6 Ways to Make Your Build-to-Rent Community Built to Last
Build-to-rent, or BTR, communities are helping millions of people experience the American Dream of single-family living without the cost of a mortgage. It’s a not-so-new concept that’s gaining more and more momentum across the country. Imagine a community of maintenance-free, single-family detached or attached homes that are fully amenitized with fitness centers, maintained walking trails, and resort-style luxuries like a pool and hot tub.
1. Hire a specialized general contractor
One of the first questions you should ask prospective general contractors (GCs) is, “Do you have BTR experience?” If the answer is “no,” then you should consider finding a firm that has BTR-specific experience and can perform both civil and vertical scopes. You’ll want an experienced team that understands the nuanced friction points and can mitigate that friction in advance with careful pre-development tactics.
2. Know the amenity needs of your market and demographic
All BTR communities aren’t the same, nor should they be. They can be horizontal apartments, attached and detached single-family homes, to any number of combinations of these types. The design variety means it’s critical for developers to create amenity programming that resonates with renters in specific markets and with their targeted demographic. For example, an amenity for electric vehicle car sharing may work in Los Angeles, but not in Dallas. And, if your community is located in a strong school district you will want to ensure you’ve got programming for children.
3. Maximize value by optimizing units for the ‘renter’s mindset’
In addition to having great, relevant amenities, BTR developers should clearly understand what a buyer wants and will pay for versus what a renter wants and will pay for. The needs are different. Many BTR renters, for example, will pay for an extra bedroom, community gym, and dog park, but not for more energy-efficiency or higher-end finishes. It’s important to understand the avenues from which you will get your ROI in a BTR setting.
4. Pay closer attention to your civil plans
Conflicts on the horizontal side of BTR construction can break a project, resulting in delayed construction, added cost, and could potentially risk upsetting your trade base. BTR sites are generally denser compared to typical single-family sites. Developers should spend more time reviewing the civil plans and their overlap with the vertical side of construction, and even consider hiring a GC that 3D models everything.
5. Plan for construction phasing to boost pre-leasing interest
Construction on BTR projects moves quickly: Vertical construction often commences before horizontal is completed, and the pace of vertical starts is challenging. Construction phasing is more important than ever, and you need to be meticulous about every single detail, from maximizing revenues with early occupancies to delivering amenities ahead of schedule to support leasing efforts.
6. Prioritize multi-party trade coordination and communication
BTR sites involve more commercial trades for the horizontal work and residential trades for the vertical work. These two groups are generally not used to coordinating and interfacing with each other. Creating a solid, consistent communication structure and cadence between all trades is even more critical on these projects than is typically required. A GC with a strong coordination and communication process will ultimately win the day.
We are currently a broad range of BTR communities, with more than 4,000 planned units across six markets in the south and southwestern U.S. These communities not only represent a new housing type, but constitute a platform through which the industry can rethink how houses and communities are designed, financed, built, managed and eventually lived in. Our team and technology work every day to unlock efficiencies in the BTR development space. With control over starting cadences for these homes, we continue to push these efficiencies to new levels.