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Whistler building expertise moves east

Innovative Building Group wins award for Kicking Horse development


A Whistler company is taking its skills and expertise across the province and making its mark thousands of miles away in Golden, B.C.

That's the home of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and the location of local builder Rod Nadeau's newly completed Aspens project, which just won the Keystone Award for best Resort Development.

After years building in Whistler, both condo developments and exclusive single-family homes, Nadeau has learned how to fine tune resort homes.

"It's a thousand little things we've learned over the years building condos in Whistler," he said this week. "Whether it's snow management on the roof or just a general style that people like or the floor plan that seems to work best for resort homes, it's all those little things that make the difference between a successful project and one that's just so-so."

The Canadian Home Builders' Association Central Interior recognized the Aspens project as more than "so-so" at its recent Keystone Awards ceremony, judging it on several factors including the affordability of the development and innovative detailing.

When asked what kind of things he's learned from developing in Whistler, and then applied to the Aspens project, Nadeau highlighted several of those little touches that can make a big difference.

For example, the underground parking garages are higher to ensure there's enough room for ski racks. The parking spots themselves were designed longer and with a storage room at the end of every spot. That allows all skis and bikes to be stowed away there rather than being moved up to the condo.

Other little touches include building large decks (14 x 34 feet) on the units to include room for a hot tub, BBQ and table for six.

"We just take it for granted all of these things because we've been doing it for so long," said Nadeau. "But actually other people don't know how to do it."

The Aspens is made up of 60 units, mostly two-bedrooms, costing around $300,000 each. They are built in a familiar Whistler style with trademark post and beam entries.

Nadeau's company, Innovative Building Group, is involved in the new Rainbow subdivision at Whistler. But when the opportunity arose five years ago to do some building in Golden, Nadeau jumped at the chance to get in on the ground floor of an emerging resort generating a lot of buzz.

The company, under the helm of Whistler transplants Ned Johnson, Nadeau's building partner, and Shane Mitchell, site superintendent, first built the 48-unit condo/hotel called the Palliser Lodge.

Again, learning from Whistler's mistakes, Nadeau ensured the lodge had one management company and one front desk to provide seamless customer service.

The next project was the Aspens. Just five units remain unsold.

The longtime Whistler builder said the experience of working at Kicking Horse near Golden reminded him of working in Whistler 20 years ago.

As for the future of work at Kicking Horse, Nadeau points to the master plan which calls for an expansion of the existing facilities into a year-round destination resort including a signature golf course, densification of the resort base and major improvements to the ski area.

There's potential work in the area for years to come.

"It's drying up in Whistler and this was a good opportunity," said Nadeau. "It was a great opportunity to take all the skills we've learned here and apply them elsewhere."