Affordable Housing Ventures – The Right GC Makes All the Difference

Affordable Housing Ventures – The Right GC Makes All the Difference

Throughout the region, elected officials, business leaders, developers, and housing advocates are raising awareness about the need for an increase in affordable housing. Recent economic data in Maryland suggests that the inability of families to find housing they can afford is a significant factor in their decision to move out of state. The Governor has indicated that adding affordable housing stock is a priority for the administration and is seeking avenues to ease regulatory and other hurdles. Similar attention is being paid to this issue in DC and Virginia, with legislative and other remedies under consideration. This increased attention, additional funding, and legislative efforts make it likely we will see a boom in these projects over the next few years.

Whether you are considering your next affordable multifamily project or your first, selecting the right general contractor is essential to the ultimate success of your endeavor. We’ve asked one of our affordable housing experts, Senior Project Manager Brett Roberts, for his advice on choosing the best general contractor for the job. Discover why he suggests opting for a construction partner who knows how to navigate the intricacies of this market and offers preconstruction services.

Brett recommends selecting a general contractor with an outstanding preconstruction team and bringing them on board as early in the project’s inception as possible. The more owners, designers, contractors, and other stakeholders can collaborate at the outset of a project, the fewer surprises arise during construction. Preconstruction can uncover a host of challenges that can impact schedule and budget, including the identification of long lead items, tricky site conditions, environmental concerns, etc. In addition, when the construction partner you select has experience building in this market, they can more readily identify and plan to mitigate the challenges that most often arise on these projects. A contractor with experience building affordable housing projects understands how vital meeting or beating construction schedules is to these clients and can draw upon lessons learned to make it happen.

One way that skillful preconstruction teams add tremendous value to an affordable housing project is knowing how to deliver on green building requirements. Beyond energy performance standards required by building code, the agency awarding the tax credits for affordable housing projects (in Maryland, for example, it is CDA) develops threshold green building requirements that are not standard in market-rate projects. The experienced contractor will be familiar with these unique requirements and can anticipate them even in early conceptual budgets. In addition, developers are understandably concerned about building efficiency, and preconstruction professionals can provide value engineering that delivers options to maximize energy efficiency without sacrificing design intent or raising costs prohibitively. P-C’s preconstruction team produces highly detailed conceptual budgets that illustrate value engineering options and provide owners with an accurate picture of not only what they cost but also how they’ll benefit the building throughout operation.

Another reason to engage a contractor with a preconstruction team familiar with affordable housing projects involves subcontractor selection. The majority of affordable housing projects have MBE/CBE goals; some require participation rates as high as 37 percent of the overall construction contract. A GC with affordable housing experts in both operations and preconstruction who are cognizant of these participation requirements can develop plans to meet and beat them. Selecting a GC whose preconstruction team cultivates deep relationships with qualifying subcontractors and can leverage those partnerships to benefit the project helps ensure the right trade experts are brought on board for the best value. At Plano-Coudon, we have met or exceeded every minority contracting participation goal in our 26 years in business and we know how to effectively engage our trade partners.

Stay tuned next month for advice on managing the various entities and regulatory bodies involved in affordable housing projects and get Brett’s tips on how to navigate these relationships, regulations, and requirements with ease.

If you are embarking on a new affordable housing development venture or considering doing so, reach out to Plano-Coudon to meet our preconstruction team and construction experts. Our expertise can lay the foundation for an outstanding project.

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