Today the Canadian Embassy was able to arrange a meeting for us with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) to discuss the call for proposals on imported emergency temporary housing. We were able to clear up a few issues, but it was also apparent that many of the details still need to be worked out and that much of this will be done later at the prefectural level.
One of the big questions we had was whether or not JAS plywood had to be used for these units. Basically if you are building a 2×4 home in Japan you need to use JAS stamped plywood. In this case though, temporary housing units are to be built (they are not asking for 2×4 construction specifically). Therefore, it is important that companies do not submit proposals to build “2x4 housing,” but rather just say they are planning to build “temporary housing units” regardless of the construction method they plan to use. Please contact me if you would like further information on this.
Aside from building regulations, suppliers will have to meet tough budgetary constraints. In the case of the Kobe earthquake, temporary housing units were built for about Y5 million each and this included the pre-fab unit with all interior finishing (e.g. toilet, bath, etc.), shipping, onsite construction, as well as maintenance for the first two years. While this is not set in stone, MLIT is using this figure as a guideline and obviously hopes to keep the budget within this level for the projects in the Tohoku region.
As for the schedule, there was some hope that the deadline could be extended past the date of April 25th as was set last week, but this will not happen. The government is under a lot of pressure to get the units built by the end of July (i.e. before typhoon season) and thus does not want to extend their deadlines for imported or domestic produced units. Having said that, the 25th is only the first step in the bidding process. After MLIT receives all of the proposals, they will compile them into an approved supplier list which they will then give to the prefectures of Fukushima, Iwate, and Miyagi. Each prefecture will then be responsible for going through the lists, short listing strong candidates, and then beginning contract negotiations specific to construction sites. It is at this time that greater detail will be provided so that more comprehensive estimates can be provided.
The basic layout for the temporary housing will be a standard Japanese 2DK pre-fab unit consisting of 30m2 in floorspace for family use (please contact me if you would like a sample plan). MLIT said that other layouts and concepts including trailer type housing could also be considered, but following a similar layout to the Japanese pre-fab standards will make it easier for the prefectures to compare and evaluate bids. Translation, you have a better shot if you follow the standard plan.
Having met with MLIT about this call for proposals, we now have a contact person that we can go to with follow-up questions. Therefore, please let me know if there is anything about the proposals that you would like further clarification on. In the meantime, the BC Wood Japan Office is reaching out to our contacts here to see which companies are interested in partnering with Canadian firms to submit a bid.