The value added by a general contractor with value-add experience

21 May 2024

Value add construction, or major renovation construction projects are different from ground up construction projects and as such, they require a different set of skills.

So what skills are important in a general contractor managing a value-add construction project? And what value does that unique experience add for project owners?

What is value-add construction

Value add construction projects are characterized by restoring, reimagining, or adding to the original designed purpose of a structure or space. Renovations like revitalizing an office lobby, small additions like new public parks or green space, to major projects like the conversion of office towers into apartment buildings or the reimagining of malls all fall under the value add construction category. Sometimes called adaptive reuse, value add projects are also considered to be more sustainable. By repurposing or recycling an asset instead of replacing it, you limit the carbon impacts of construction, materials, and waste.

Characteristics and considerations of value add construction

Value add construction projects have a tendency to be more complicated than a ground up construction projects. The reason for this is two-fold:

  1. Value add projects e require accurate assessment of site conditions, and preparedness for the unforeseen.
  2. In some cases, value add projects occur while the asset is still operational.

In both cases, these characteristics of value add construction directly impact construction schedules, materials and methods. Here are two examples of these impacts on real value add construction projects.

Atrio Apartments

The Atrio Apartments project included the renovation of over 249,000 GSF including a new rooftop deck. Dating back to the 1960’s, the existing structure features a unique combination of exterior pre-cast columns and interior poured in place floors and columns. As part of the renovation, portions of the exterior pre-cast were removed and replaced with new floor to ceiling windows. Along with the extensive exterior changes, the team also oversaw the interior overhaul of the existing 272 apartment units.

As an integrated developer and general contractor, anticipating the unforeseen is part of the culture at focus. It drives the construction team to ask questions to deliver smart solutions that weren’t previously considered. This is particularly important during a renovation project, where it is impossible to know what conditions will be discovered once demolition starts. This approach mitigates as many of the hidden costs as possible to the benefit or building owners. Focus’ value add pre-construction approach considers this and adjusts project budgets to limit the risk of potential scope gaps. Investigations performed before demolition on the Atrio Apartments projects provided valuable information that allowed teams to address conditions onsite accurately including:

  1. Surveyed the existing windows to determine what repairs or replacements would be necessary.
  2. Performed selective demolition of plumbing & duct chases to evaluate the condition of pipes, current wall construction and the existing floor-to-floor construction. T
  3. Evaluated demolition plans compared to the new floor plans to coordinate locations were wall or ceiling patching would be necessary due to demo work even though this scope was not specifically identified.

This detail-oriented approach helped to produce an accurate budget which mitigated cost overruns and unforeseen delays.

SCIO at the Medical District

Located along Ashland Avenue between Polk and Taylor streets, the Scio at the Medical District sits on over five acres of property. The two, 12 -story towers included an existing 410-unit rental community with a mix of studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments. Focus renovated the existing residences and built a new amenity pavilion connecting the two residential towers. All the construction work was executed in such a way that the building was able to maintain occupancy and the property management team could actively lease the newly renovated spaces as they became available.

Renovating an occupied building complicates the standard construction process. It typically extends the construction schedule because there are additional considerations and fewer working hours. Work must be scheduled well in advance, must be as quiet an as clean as possible, and conducted outside of the typical working hours to reduce disturbances. On the SCIO project, the Focus construction staff was in constant communication with the property management team to ensure the existing tenants were kept informed about construction progress and the schedule for completion.

Teams also established procedures for moving through the building systematically, working in certain sections of the building which were vacant or less occupied than others. All construction was structured in phases. Working from the top floor down, the Focus team renovated one floor, or 18 units, every eight weeks with a short overlap between floors. This meant that only two floors were ever under construction at a time which helped to reduce the impact on tenants. Additionally, by keeping the spaces as clean as possible, and by creating a separate construction entrance, the team effectively reduced the number of times tenants even encountered construction staff.

The entire renovation lasted 24 months - during which, through a careful approach and strong collaboration with the leasing team, SCIO maintained occupancy and increased leasing activity. After the renovation, rents grew by an average of 36% and the occupancy level of the building increased by 15% in the year following the end of construction.

A general contractor with relevant experience adds real value during value add construction projects

It is clear from the two above examples that there are unique considerations in value add construction projects that are important for a successful outcome. Without the right general contractor, your value add project might run into unforeseen site conditions which can delay delivery, impact day to day operations of your active assets and more.

At Focus, our integrated model for development and construction lends benefits to out third party clients. As owner’s ourselves, our construction staff are trained to considered impacts to ownership that they might not otherwise consider. In addition, our long track record of successful deliveries, including multiple value add construction projects, gives our staff a competitive edge for success. To learn more about our unique approach to value add construction, or to discuss a project of your own, please contact us today.

Subscribe to learn more.

Next Article - Florida YIMBY: FAA permits issued for 39-story mixed-use tower at 128 SW 7th Street in Brickell, Miami

Get in touch

Back To Top