When existing apartment assets choose to renovate, the construction process poses unique challenges, tight inflexible schedules driven by lease expirations and market seasonality and working around occupied units and common areas while limiting the impact to residents. However, the value added from such renovations typically prove fruitful as demonstrated in improved rental rates as well as refreshed reputation and branding.
Focus recently delivered on this type of value-add construction for their client AIMCO at Evanston Place Apartments in the Chicago suburbs. The multifamily development consists of (2) 9-story apartment buildings containing 190 units in downtown Evanston and caters to the student who attend Northwestern University. AIMCO needed the work completed on a very tight timeline as the goal was to reinvigorate the apartment interiors while students were off campus during summer break.
The first phase of work included the renovation of 52 units on 3 floors within one occupied tower. All renovation work was completed, from start of demolition to turnover, in 8 weeks. Work totaled 49,290 SF and included all new; cabinets and countertops in the kitchens and bathrooms, appliances, plumbing fixtures, showers, door hardware, light fixtures, flooring and window blinds. Teams also scraped the popcorn ceilings, skim coated the ceilings, and applied new paint throughout.
In order to deliver on such a tight timeline, the Focus construction team took several unique steps to prepare. To begin, teams performed a test by completing the full scope of improvements on two units during the winter before construction began. This preconstruction test allowed teams to answer a lot of questions about what would be needed to renovate nearly one unit a day. The team also field measured all spaces in the days leading up to construction. This enabled trade partners to pre-order all necessary materials prior to the start of construction. With all requisite supplies on hand there would be no issues with lead times, allowing teams to turn over units quickly.
Additionally, when awarding contracts to trade partners the Focus construction team mandated a 6-day work week instead of the typical 5. By negotiating the overtime up front, Focus shortened the construction timeline and minimized extraneous cost associated with labor.
These adjustments along with overlapping trade construction schedules allowed the Focus construction team to renovate all 52 units in just 8 weeks. By delivering on the timeline, client AIMCO marketed and leased the new units in time for the fall semester.
As an integrated developer and general contractor, when providing construction management services for our 3rd party clients, Focus’ team acts as owner advocates, our experience with our in-house owners allows us to anticipate the unforeseen and address potential challenges from the onset. This mind-set was particularly helpful at the Evanston Place project, allowing staff to focus on the client’s timeline and deliver smart solutions to minimize impact to the occupied building and meet the aggressive schedule in order to support our client’s marketing and leasing efforts.