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Adapting for a New Sector: Multifamily

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Date: January 31, 2019

by Larry Knox

In 2015, a longtime customer of Bob Moore Construction for commercial and industrial projects came to us with an opportunity to leverage our construction management expertise in a new product type and sector: multifamily construction.

We hesitated internally at first. Were we straying from our core competencies by getting into a sector so radically different from what we’ve done? Though we’ve constructed highly complex industrial, office and manufacturing projects, this was more intricate than the “big boxes” that we are so often associated with.

Ultimately, we accepted the challenge and decided to utilize our existing construction management skills, while realizing we would need to adapt.

To adapt, we brought in an experienced multifamily project manager and superintendent. We would use Bob Moore processes, but we understood we had much to learn. This team brought relationships with quality subcontractors, which allowed us to be competitive in the bidding process and win our first multifamily job.

We broke ground on a five-story podium-style complex in Dallas called Modena in August 2015.  The project was a 230 unit/183,260 sf podium with 160 parking spaces below grade and 125 spaces at grade level. The project was made very difficult because the building footprint covered 85% of the lot which left virtually no room for material storage or staging. Because of limited site storage materials were brought on a daily basis and distributed by a tower crane until the building was topped out.  It was a massive undertaking, but in the end we learned a lot from the experience and had a finished building we were all proud of. One takeaway from the Modena project was that, due to the resources required for this new sector, our business plan going forward was to only pursue one or two multi-family projects per year while simultaneously working multiple projects in our other sectors.

In February 2018, we broke ground on our second multifamily project, an eight-building, garden style apartment complex in Haltom City called the Grand on Beach. This is a 304 unit/249,037 sf apartment complex located on 15.4 acres. Despite some setbacks due to weather and some other uncontrollable circumstances, we’ve maintained schedule and have turned over 93 units of the 304, per the contract schedule.  As we prepare to complete the Grand on Beach project in the summer of 2019, we are actively searching for our next multifamily project.

It is very easy in our industry to stick to building what you know and not branching out to new sectors. At Bob Moore, we feel that the phrase “we’ve always done it that way” is one of the most dangerous phrases in business. When one client objected to BMC bidding a multifamily project because we’d never built a multifamily building, we told him “we never build a tilt-wall building until our first one, and 40 years later we’re leaders in tilt-wall construction. Regardless of the sector, it all starts with that first project.” As we prepare to finish our second multifamily project in the coming months, we are actively seeking out the third project.

To anyone looking to for a general contractor to bid a multifamily or other commercial construction project please reach out to myself, Larry Knox, or Glenn Denham at (817) 640-1200.