21. November 2008 03:12
One of the most basic advantages of systems-built construction versus stick built, of course, is the way it cuts time on the jobsite. It almost goes without saying that this has tremendous impact on virtually any project; if you can reduce the costs incurred by extra days on the site, the likelihood that a project will be profitable goes way up. It's an essential element in the value of modular construction.
But there are jobs for which the advantages of systems-built construction are even more pronounced. Sometimes performance-based standards require that rigorous timely milestones be met. And systems-built construction - especially as delivered by Deluxe - can have a direct, positive effect on the funding of any such project.
Here's an example. At the North End Gateway housing project in Hartford, Conn., a venture in which Deluxe took part, fast and predictable construction was central to the project's success. Our bonded performance on timeliness was required to maintain the $12.5 million project's funding at full levels.
The developer, Carabetta Brothers of Meriden, Conn., contracted for North End Gateway (NEG) as a low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) development of 57 units, of which 45 offer reduced rents subsidy and 12 are market-rate rentals.
It's an exceptionally attractive apartment complex, four stories high and including a number of features and amenities that might not be associated with other low-income housing. Tenants can choose from two-, three-, and four-bedroom units. Two elevators and a 16-camera security system with controlled visitor access serve the complex. The larger apartments feature two full baths. All units include washer/dryer hookups; gas and electric service is individually metered. There's covered parking for about half of the residents. North End Gateway's design is handsome, and it's convenient to downtown - less than a mile away. For the available apartments, hundreds of applications have already been received.
Though it's a private project, NEG relied heavily on grant funding from state and federal tax credits (Carabetta was chosen for the project by the Connecticut Housing Finance Administration and the state Department of Economic and Community Development.)
That heavy reliance on grant money helps explain why timeliness was so important. Among the terms of the grants were requirements to adhere to a rigorous construction schedule. There was a lot at stake here. If these performance standards were not met, part of the grant funding would be lost. As we know, timely construction is vital on any apartment project. For obvious reasons, the grant elements of the job made it even more crucial this time around.
Carabetta's selection of Deluxe reflected their recognition that we could do what was needed, both in terms of engineering prowess and manufacturing capabilities.
Before anything could move forward, Deluxe had to provide a $5.5 million performance and payment bond. We entered into a contract to build the project last December, and got production cranked up in late April 2008. Placement of the boxes started in mid-July; they were all set by September. â€œSubstantial completion" criteria for the project were satisfied by early October, and occupancy will begin in December, within weeks of this writing.
Deluxe nailed every target under the grants' timeliness requirements. Completion was achieved on schedule and the project's grant funding was fully maintained.
To manage this would have been a challenge with even a very basic structure, but the NEG project involved details that were out of the ordinary for a modular installation. For instance, half of the building is on an elevated structural frame that creates the parking space. This imposed extra design and engineering demands that could not have been met on time without Deluxe's exceptional engineering and manufacturing capabilities.
The essential reality here is that systems-built construction saves jobsite time. On any job, that can mean enhanced profitability. At North End Gateway, this advantage was doubly important. With the full value of supporting grants at stake, rapid construction became absolutely critical - and Deluxe delivered what the client needed right on time.