WRITTEN BY DEBRA LYNN
The building at 1053 Maquinna in Port Alice is undergoing a major transformation, making it almost unrecognizable from its previous incarnation.
The building was formerly part of Forest Grove Apartments that was built in 1966 and then converted into condominiums in 2007. Each building in the complex, except for two that became the Alice Anglers Inn and the Forest Grove Condo Rentals, became its own strata association. The building at 1053 has only seven apartment units but demonstrates that you can really go big by being small.
Renovations were started when it was discovered that the siding was rotting and working its way through to the inner framing. The carports were also rotting and getting ready to fall down. According to strata owner and career builder who took on the project, Tim Peligren, they “caught it just in time.”
Peligren, for whom the Port Alice condo is his “beautiful getaway,” has been working as a builder out of Nanaimo since 1976. The crews working on the Port Alice structure are employed by him on a full-time basis. Friends, family and other owners also provided a helping hand with painting, clean up and additional labour, and by offering their units to house the out-of-town workers.
Another major issue that made renovations pressing was the boiler. A relic that tended to break down often—and usually at the coldest times of the year—was costing them $10,000 a year in propane bills, not to mention the cost of emergency repairs.
According to Peligren, “the insurance company wanted us to change the panels containing screw-in fuses over to multi-breakers so…it was a good time to upgrade the heating system since the propane was costing us so much money…” They then decided to get rid of the boiler and change over to electric heat.
Being that the amperage was limited, they garnered the power they needed for electric heat by replacing electric stoves with propane ones. They also exchanged their old propane hot water tank for a new high-efficiency on-demand water heater that exhausts with a PCV pipe. Peligren was happy to proclaim that they were able to get rid of “that big ugly chimney” that was out there.
Peligren and crew have also added new siding and more ventilation and insulation in the attics. The single-pane windows in the stairwells have been changed to thermal pane. The screws of the roof of the main building needed replacing: the rubbers were getting worn out and allowing some leakage. There is a new metal roof on the carports, with two of the stalls being converted into storage. Additional parking will be added around the building.
The “piece de resistance” are some 12’ x 19’ sundecks added to three of the units, and a small, enclosed ground level deck for a lower suite. They were added “for our own personal pleasure” and were paid for by the owners of those units. The huge raised decks, almost half the size of the individual units, will significantly increase the strata owners’ living spaces.
The renovations will likely total around $90,000. The strata association will use the $40,000 they have in their contingency and the owners will pay for the rest. By augmenting the insulation and getting rid of a costly and unreliable boiler, the renovations will likely pay for themselves in 10 years.
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