A delay of nearly two months — so far — in gaining access to Whistle Bend lots purchased in the most recent Yukon government land lottery is adding up to increased costs and potential crew layoffs for at least one Whitehorse builder.
John Vogt of Vogt Homes said in an Aug. 25 interview that when he put his name in the lottery for properties in Phase 6A of the neighbourhood, he and other purchasers were told they would get access to their sites by June 30 after the territory’s contractor finished with infrastructure development there.
Vogt put down the 20 per cent deposit required for the two lots he got and agreed to the three-year build commitment and the five year period, to pay off the full cost. Interest costs also began accruing with the purchase. As he waited for the land to become available, he got the paperwork in place to develop and planned for the construction season, hiring a couple of extra crew members knowing that along with some other projects Vogt Homes had on the go, there would also be work at the newest Whistle Bend sites.
Since that June 30 deadline though, he’s been left waiting, unable to start work on the properties; told week after week by officials, that it will just be another week or two before it’s ready.
As Aisha Montgomery, director of communications with the territory’s Department of Community Services, explained in an emailed statement, the original deadline for development to be finished in the area was June 30, but repairs to some of the infrastructure have been required.
“One last water leak in a water service pipe has been difficult to trace and repair; however, the contractor has made progress in the last two days [and] is confident the issue will be resolved in the next week,” she wrote.
“Once these issues have been addressed, the Yukon government will achieve a Construction Completion Certificate from the City of Whitehorse; this will then allow for the issuing of development permits to lot owners.”
She noted the government understands the frustrations for lot owners and appreciates their patience. The territory is coordinating with the City of Whitehorse to notify property owners “to ensure they are kept informed and updated about site progress as we go forward.”
As Vogt waits to get on his properties to build, he’s considering the possibility he may have to heat the ground if he wants to get started this year and that there will be a long list of builders at the same time looking for contractors to help start their builds.
“There’s only two concrete companies in town for footings,” he said. “Everything just adds up.”
Heating the ground for the build would mean getting tarps and heaters in place. With no power to the lots, it would also mean any heaters they run would have to be gas-powered.
“Fuel’s expensive,” Vogt said, noting there could also be an issue finding contractors willing to work with frozen ground because not all contractors are.
The most Vogt and his father, who he owns the company with, have seen a delay like this has been a month. As Vogt noted, typically the government would get the development area ready and then hold a lottery in the fall with builders ready to start their work in the spring. Vogt said he heard of one person who had bought one of the lots and sold their current home, expecting they would move in by Christmas, given the expected June 30 start to building. Now they are scrambling to find a rental.
It’s just one example of the impact such a delay can have.
“We hired extra guys, we have money invested over there ready to go and I turned down other jobs,” he said.
If, in the worst case scenario, he can’t go ahead with the planned work for the lots this year, he may look for renos the company could do in the fall or he may have to lay off the extra staff he hired and one or two others on his crew.
“My hope is that one of these times, the ‘being a week out’ is actually a week out,” he said, noting adding if that doesn’t happen he’ll be issuing complaints to the government over his money being tied up and interest being charged.
He said he may end up seeking the interest back if he can’t get to work on the properties as planned.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at email@example.com