The latest attempt at reinvention was a two-year study to discover the failings with three new buildings to house seniors. The study found these new units failed to meet the needs of senior residents. This isn’t a wildly new field. Communities and countries around the world have been addressing these needs for decades. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is 25 years old. Around the world, everything from castles to cruise ships have been adapted to host physically challenged individuals. So why can’t provincial developers adjust their designs to fit residents’ needs? And why does it take Nova Scotia two years to conclude the housing isn’t adequate? A group of seniors, less-abled individuals, their caregivers, seniors advocates, numerous local physiotherapists or architects could have done it in two hours.
These are not the first buildings constructed for seniors or physically challenged individuals. The designs and ideas exist and are readily available. And even if they were the first buildings local developers built, the technology exists to quickly incorporate changes into their cookie-cutter designs. If done before reaching the construction site any alterations would be negligible. And that isn’t a significant factor because the province provides a $25,000 per unit subsidy.
So why can’t developers get it right the first time and why does it take two years to reach that conclusion? This institutional lethargy is another example of why this province is so heavily indebted.
As it happens, I recently heard someone in the provincial construction industry speak about Building Information Modeling (BIM). He said that prior to the adaptation of BIM 57 percent of construction costs were wasted! BIM put increased focus on pre-construction design, providing a 3-D computer image of the building which can highlight design flaws that otherwise might be missed on a standard blueprint. Flaws caught in the design stage are solved quickly and inexpensively rather than on-site, where delays, depending on the size of the project, can cost thousands of dollars an hour or day, as well as setting back project completion.
According to this industry rep BIM drives costs down and profits up. So why wouldn’t developers take a little time to get it right? Why do we continue to subsidize people who fail to perform? And why do we throw so much money on needlessly long studies? Moreover, where lives, well-being and health are involved, where is the urgency? Stop wasting time with the reinvention.