Monthly Archives: August 2013

Energy Efficiency and Mutifamily Housing

Multifamily housing provides homes for over 40 million people around the country, and there is a huge potential for improvement in energy efficiency in the industry.    State and local governments are moving rapidly to adopt benchmarking and disclosure laws as a part of their efforts to make existing buildings more energy efficient and lower energy bills for local residents.  Six major cities (including Austin, Texas) and two states, have adopted disclosure and benchmarking laws for multifamily housing energy efficiency, totaling over 1.3 million housing units.  The goal is to introduce competency and competitiveness in the multifamily housing industry that previously, was not seen.  Most apartment buildings are 36 years old on average and were built prior to energy efficiency laws were in place.  CNT energy conducted a study in 2012 with the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), which shows that energy efficiency upgrades in multifamily housing could save building owners and residents up to $3.4 billion annually.  Where do most of the energy compliance problems exist?  What repairs need to be completed to ensure energy efficiency?

  • Air Ducts

The energy commission estimates that improper air duct installation is responsible for 20 to 40 percent of energy loss in residential buildings.  Animals, rodents, and age can also result in tears or rips in duct work.

  • Insulation

The standard width of insulation rolls is 16 inches.  When the space between the floor and beams is narrower, many subcontractors will simply stuff the insulation into the space without cutting it to fit insulationproperly.  When insulation is compressed, it reduces the R-Value, a measurement of its insulation capability.

  • Framing

The energy commission advocates energy efficient design and construction methods that reduce the amount of framing and studs, and increase the amount of insulation.  Generally speaking, the more framing that exists creates a greater chance of energy loss.  Air penetrating through leaks in walls and framing can cause particles from fiberglass insulation to become airborne, causing potential respiratory problems.  The potential for air leaks also increases and can be even greater in buildings with various ceiling heights.

  • Windows

Heat gain through windows is responsible for 50 percent of the cooling load in warmer climates.  Improperly installed windows are a major source of air and water intrusion from unconditioned spaces.  Besides energy loss, water seepage can cause mold and decay, resulting in extensive damage.

  •  Roofing

The heat from a roof makes an air conditioner work even harder to cool a space.  Leaks or gaps in tiles or shingles can create for leakage or water seepage that could result in structural damage and mold.

With energy costs on the rise by more than 20 percent, along with a greater focus on energy efficiency, multifamily housing can gain profitability by focusing on improvements and gain tenant loyalty.

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Making Your Property More Attractive to Renters

If you want your multi-family property to be profitable, it’s important that you attract financially secure and responsible residents. There are a lot of rental properties out there so it’s important that your multi-family units stand out from the crowd. There are many things you can do to make your property tempting to potential renters.

condo-rentalFirst, it’s important that your property is clean and in good repair. Neglected properties will not be tempting for the kind of renters you want in your community. They are looking for homes that look attractive. They also want rental units that are in good shape. If your property appears run-down, renters will worry that they will have plumbing, electrical and other problems. First impressions are critical to attracting tenants.

You can make your property stand out by keeping the units up to date. This means having plumbing and electrical equipment in perfect shape. The inside and outside of the building should have fresh paint. The roofs should be in good repair. You will also need to consider details like stairs, railings, trim and concrete. A well-laid out clubhouse will also be attractive to prospective tenants.

You can keep your property in good repair by building a relationship with an experienced, qualified contractor. It’s important to work with a contractor that is experienced with multi-family units. This type of company will be able to perform maintenance without seriously inconveniencing your tenants. They will help you troubleshoot problems so you can keep your property running smoothly. It’s a good idea to work with a contractor that has a variety of expertise in areas such as plumbing, electrical, welding, concrete, painting and roofing work. This way, you have a reliable contact in case of problems or emergencies.

When damage occurs from weather or fire, you should repair it immediately so that your tenants don’t lose confidence in your community. The right contractor can help you work with your insurance company to get the right settlement for your damages. The contractor can set a timeframe for repairing the damage. Your contractor should provide you with a full estimate that details all the work to be done. This way, you can ensure that your property will be fully repaired and is situated to be profitable in the future.

Ensuring Your Contractor Finishes on Time and Under Budget

Are you planning a big remodeling project on your multi-family unit? Do you need damage repair after a storm or fire? Do you want to update the units in your buildings? Hiring the right contractor can make the difference between a nightmare and good experience. It’s easy to find a local contractor, but you shouldn’t hire anyone on impulse. It is worth your time and money to do some research so you can find the right company for your needs.

CliffsOne of the most important things you can do is work with someone who has a local presence. If there are problems with the project, you will have a local contact that can help you immediately. Next, the company will be properly licensed to do business in your area. There will be local references that you can check.

You should hire an experienced contractor. Inexperienced contractors often underestimate budgets because they don’t plan for the problems that typically occur during projects. Inexperienced contractors may overestimate the amount of work they can do during a period of time, causing the project to extend past the due date. They may not have reliable staff which can lead to interruptions in work flow.

Hire a company that has extensive experience with multi-family units. They will have the skill and knowledge to complete the work without inconveniencing your residents. These kinds of contractors often have experience in multiple types of work, such as roofing, electrical, plumbing, painting, remodeling and concrete. You can build a relationship with this type of company so that you can rely on them for a variety of projects.

Always check with the local Better Business Bureau for information about your contractor. You can also check reviews on Angie’s List and other online rating companies. Reliable and experienced contractors will have good reviews and no formal complaints. You can also talk to neighbors, friends and co-workers about their experiences with contractors. First-hand information can be very helpful. Your insurance company is another resource for recommendations. They often have extensive experience with contracting companies and can give you a list of reliable companies.

How Do I Know I Have a Good Contractor?

If you are remodeling or repairing units in your multi-family complex, the most important step is finding the right contractor. Only consider companies that have experience with multi-family properties. Companies that don’t won’t be able to fully meet your needs and may overextend your timeline and budget.

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A good contractor will provide you with a detailed estimate of the work to be done. It’s extremely helpful if the contractor itemizes each work item so that you can easily compare the estimate to others you receive. Experienced contractors often include potential work items and costs that may be necessary during the course of the project. Having this information ahead of time will help you plan and budget accordingly.

Ask the contractor for references and check them before you make any commitments. Check with your local Better Business Bureau to make sure no complaints have been filed against the company. You can find rating services online such as Yelp and Angie’s List that have unbiased customer reviews. Ask people in your community about their experiences with contractors. You can also contact your insurance agent, who may have a lot of information about local companies.
You should always check to make sure that the contractor is properly licensed and bonded. The company should have adequate liability, worker’s compensation and auto insurance. This will protect you in the case of an accident. The company should be able to produce all relevant insurance forms so that you can verify coverage.

A good contractor can help you work with your insurance company in many cases. The contractor can fully document any damage caused by hail, rain, storms or fire. They should be able to provide you with recommendations on filling out your insurance claims. Experienced contractors can help you negotiate with your insurer so that you receive fair compensation for all damages.

You should look for a contractor that provides warranties on the work they perform. This will protect the workmanship and materials. When contractors provide warranties, they are often experienced and qualified enough to guarantee their work. Warranties will usually vary depending on the type of project. Don’t work with a company that won’t provide warranties.