Everyone loves a good renovation!

With the HGTV show "Fixer Upper" ending this past week, the news has been filled with stories on home renovations.  While this was once thought to be a trend in "reality" television, these shows seem to be more popular than ever.  

Stonebridge Builders is known for their amazing multi-family unit renovations.  We can do anything from simple "surface" renovations to complete renovations from floor to ceiling and wall to wall.

Below are a few of our favorite transformations! 

Scavenger Hunt

After our Senior Leadership Retreat back in January, Stonebridge Builders made a conscious effort to focus on our culture... we wanted to make sure we were a fun place to work.  So we formed a committee to concentrate on the people of Stonebridge.  One of this committee's initiatives involved engaging in quarterly team building activities.

Our first quarter team building activity was a Scavenger Hunt.  Each small team had 3 required stops: a current project, a vendor, and a first-responders' station and drop off tokens of appreciation for each group.  After that, we provided a list of "bonus" points for each team to attempt to win the overall contest.  Many ideas were open to interpretation to encourage creativity.  They also practiced time management with only 2 hours to meet for lunch.  We had employees riding in grocery carts, doing the YMCA, searching for dinosaurs, and spotting "celebrities."  If you and your team would like to use our template, contact us and we would be happy to share!

We pre-selected teams so our employees interacted with departments that they normally might not.  We met at Woody's in Golden for lunch and our team morale was high and everyone had lots of fun!

Luke Edwards Nominated for Denver's 40 under 40

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Congratulations to our Director of Operations, Luke Edwards, who has been nominated for Denver Business Journal's 40 Under 40.  

Luke joined Stonebridge Builders in June after he earned his MBA from Colorado State University with a concentration in Project Management.  His responsibilities include managing the operations team to ensure projects are finished on time with high quality and evaluating how Stonebridge can operate even more efficiently.

When he isn't overseeing your project, you can find Luke skiing (he is a former ski school instructor!), working out, or exploring the great outdoors.   Originally from Broadalbin, New York,  Luke supports the Jets and the Knicks.

Salt & Stair Treads


We’ve had a pretty mild winter so far in the Front Range of Colorado, but we haven’t been immune to snow and icy surfaces. Stairs and pathways have been heavily salted.  While this is great for protecting your residents from falls, rock salt isn’t good for the concrete and can hurt your stair treads in the long run.  The most popular de-icer is sodium chloride which releases a high concentration of chloride as it dissolves, damaging both concrete and metal.  Calcium chloride is another de-icing salt that can also chemically attack concrete.

With Stonebridge Builders’ new Stair Integrity Program (SIP), we can make stair maintenance one less thing on your mind.  By choosing our Annual or Semi-Annual Program, Stonebridge will have our experts analyze each of your stair treads either yearly or twice a year.  We will then give you our recommendations for treads that need to be immediately replaced or may need to be replaced soon.  As a member of SIP, you are then eligible for quantity discounts on our stair tread products and services.

“Many of the community managers we support are dealing with multiple issues to increase lease rates, and we have found that stair tread maintenance can really be a headache,” states Stonebridge Builders’ President, Chris Tolar.  “We have found that providing lifecycle management services, including setting a baseline for a community’s current stair tread inventory, then crafting a stair tread maintenance schedule for each clearly identified tread, can really be a time saver and reduce costs and time for the property.”

To learn more about our Stair Integrity Program, contact Stonebridge Builders today at 303.425.9999 or email us at info@stonebridgebuilders.net


Stonebridge's 2018 Trends

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Everyone has their lists recapping 2017, but here at Stonebridge Builders, we are looking forward to 2018.  Many times with trends, you read the list and think “Who actually does that?” but our list is coming directly from our sales, estimating, and construction teams… it’s exactly what they are seeing.  And it just so happens that it’s right in line with the national trends we’ve been reading about!

1.      BBQs- Stonebridge Builders has been consistently providing contract documents for outdoor kitchens and bbqs during the last half of 2017, in preparation for this new amenity to be ready for residents in 2018.  This is an easy way to upgrade your overall amenity packages since most multi-family communities have the space within their pool area.

2.      Dog Parks- Living in dog friendly Colorado, dog friendly amenities are high on current and future residents’ wish lists.  We’ve seen some unique, unused spaces renovated into a simple park.  Some communities have also added a dog wash room.

3.      Solid Surface Countertops- Quartz countertops in both the kitchen and bath with minimal textures are hot right now.   

4.      LED Lighting Upgrade- Many units are being updated with LED lights throughout… a great savings for both tenants and management.

5.      Matte Finishes- Shiny silver and gold fixtures are out and matte finished hardware throughout the interior of homes is trending.

6.      Scandinavian Design- This trend features simple and clean lines giving the minimalist effect. 

7.      Neutral Palette- This trend is listed on almost every trend list for 2018.  Our question is… how is this a trend?  We’ve been seeing this for years and years!  It’s almost more of a staple!

8.      Package Solutions- This isn’t a trend but a necessity at any multi-family community.  We’ve seen empty offices renovated into package rooms, we’ve built small buildings to house them and repurposed outdated amenity rooms for them. Amazon boxes installed outdoors can also be a smaller scale solution. 

Stonebridge Christmas Party 2017

We had a great time at our 2017 Christmas Party held at Fat Cats Bowling in Westminster.  After a friendly competition of bowling, the winning team of Chris, Brad, Eric, and Michael earned themselves an extra day of PTO!  Honorable mentions for the highest overall scores go to Michael (248) , Luke (243), and Chris (229) for the top individual scores.

Our Business Development Specialist, Kim did a wonderful job organizing the party and White Elephant Gift Exchange.  She selected some fun gifts that we all had fun "stealing" including a "Squatty Potty," "The Claw," and a beanie with earbuds.  















AAMD's Silent Auction 2017

Stonebridge Builders was proud to participate in the 2017's Silent Auction and Charity Gala at Mile High Station in Downtown Denver.  Our donation of a gift certificate to the Denver Performing Arts Center garnered a nice amount towards Family Homestead.  

Congratulations to Melvin Eyestone!

Melvin Eyestone

Melvin Eyestone

Stonebridge Builders is pleased to announce that Melvin Eyestone has been promoted from Service Technician to Assistant Construction Manager.  While he has been with Stonebridge Builders just a short while, he has already made a big impact while temporarily filling in the Assistant Construction Manager position.

Stonebridge Builders' President, Chris Tolar, praised him further saying, "Stonebridge had a team member take a sabbatical and we decided to give Melvin the roles and responsibilities of the Construction Manager in charge of the project.  Melvin stepped in and with very little management oversight performed extrordinarily well on a large scale project that was challenging to say the least.  There was an enormous responsibility to perform to Stonebridge's high standards and maintain high customer satisfaction.  We were very proud of Melvin's accomplishments.

And it's not just management who has taken notice of Melvin's job quality.  A resident from his latest kitchen and bath renovation at Bell Flatirons exclaimed, "I can't say enough GREAT things about the Stonebridge crew.  They were efficient, friendly, courteous, and just wonderful to work with!  They were always there to answer any questions."

When he is not working, Melvin is a professional disc golfer, travelling around the country for various tournaments.  He recently just returned from a trip in Arizona to compete in the Sedona Golf Resort Disc Golf Tournament.

Melvin is also active volunteering for Rocky Mountain Village (Easter Seals), Throw Colorado, and Mile High Disc Golf.

Congratulations to Melvin and his well-deserved promotion!

Welcome Michael Anderson!

Michael Anderson

Michael Anderson

Stonebridge Builders is excited to welcome Michael Anderson to our team!  Michael is our new Sales Estimator.  He will be focusing on new business development and assisting our estimating team.  

A native of Rockford, Illinois, Michael served our country in the U.S. Navy before transitioning into sales.   He currently resides in Westminster with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.

An avid golfer and fisherman, he can usually be found with a Mountain Dew in hand.   He loves to cheer on the Green Bay Packers and the Colorado Avalanche.

To learn more about what Stonebridge Builders has to offer, contact Michael today at 303.425.9999 or email him at manderson@stonebridgebuilders.net.

Celebrating Our 3rd Quarter Successes!

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Stonebridge Builders had a fun Sunday celebrating the success of our 3rd quarter goals!  (If only the Broncos would have the same success!).  We began the day with lunch at Homegrown Tap & Dough in Olde Town Arvada followed by taking the RTD buses directly to the Stadium.  (If you never done this, we highly recommend it!)  

We all had a great time at Mile High Stadium, despite the Broncos bad game.  For Melvin, Amy, and her son, it was their first Broncos game ever!

Voice of the Employee:  Online Reputation Management 2.0 by Jen Piccotti of ManagInc

A Recap of the Breakout Session from TechCon 2017

Jen Piccotti of ManagInc

Jen Piccotti of ManagInc

You can have as many Pinterest-worthy resident events that you would like, but when it comes down to it, your resident turnover rate is usually right in line with your employee turnover rate.  So are your employees happy?  Think about how you operate your business with your residents.  Many times there are policies in place to ensure that you respond back to any resident communication within a 1 to 2 hour timeframe.  Do you have a policy in place for responding to your employees? 

The old school of thought was that the customer is always right.  We’ve heard this additive for years and years and years.  But do you know the origins of this phrase?  It was coined by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the owner of Selfridge Department Store in London, England in 1909!  1909!  Think of how many things have evolved in 108 years.  The new phrase that we should be focusing on is by another Brit, the very successful Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic, “The way you treat your employees is the way that they will treat your customers.”


Think about customer service in the grand scheme of things.  Who comes to mind as to having superior customer service?  How about comparing Chick-fil-a to McDonald’s?  In my experience, at McDonald’s, I’m lucky to get my order correct and the interaction between myself and the employee is nothing remarkable.  But now think of a Chick-fil-a experience.  It is always their pleasure to help.  The quality of the employees is always very noticeable as well.  Better pay, better hours, better training.  All this correlates to happier employees. 



So if you have noticed a high turnover in residents, take a look at your employee turnover.  And think of ways that you can better manage your employees to give them a better working environment.  Treat them as if you would a resident or a client, and they in turn will enjoy their work experience, which will then give your residents or clients a better experience with your company. 

TechCon 2017: A Recap

Members of our Sales and Marketing Team, Amy and Lance recently attended the Apartment Association of Denver’s TechCon 2017, hosted at Mile High Stadium (or whatever they are calling it these days!  True Denverites know it will always be Mile High!).  The day started out bright and early with networking beginning at 7:00am followed by 3 Breakout Sessions with 3 options for each.  Here are some takeaways from the event.  Look for more in-depth analyses on future blog posts!

The Voice of the Employee: Online Reputation Management 2.0 by Jen Piccotti of ManagInc

·The old adage of “The Customer is Always Right” goes back 117 years to a department store in London.  We need to shift our thinking to Virgin Atlantic’s Richard Branson’s philosophy: “The way you treat your employees is how they will treat your customers.”

·There is a direct correlation between resident turnover and employee turnover.

·If you are experiencing high turnovers with both your residents and employees, take a look at your policies.  You most likely have policies in place for timely resident communication, but do you have a similar policy in place for your employees?  They appreciate prompt responses just as much as your residents do.

·Treat your employees as if you would a resident or a client, and they in turn will enjoy their work experience, which will then give your residents or clients a better experience with your company. 


Email Remarketing:  The Most Cost Effective Tool in Our Arsenal by Donald Davidoff of D2 Demand Solutions

·Follow up on leads.  Email them back, call them back, text them back, whatever, just respond to their inquiry. You’ve spent so much money trying to get the leads, so why let that money and your potential money go to waste?

·It is more important to have a clean, quality list than a huge list with those uninterested.  Unsubscribes are actually a good thing.  Don’t waste your time, energy, and money on those who aren’t interested in your services.

·Make your content as specific as possible.  With today’s technology, this is easier than ever to achieve with a little extra effort on your part.  The example that he used was during a tour you learn a potential resident has a black lab, you tag them on the path of a pet owner.  And they receive pet specific emails, which includes a photo of a black lab, while others may receive a cat photo or another dog breed.

·Make sure each e-blast has both a purpose and a call to action. 


Denver Data Review by David Pierce of CoStar

22,000+ units in construction in Denver Metro Rent increases leveling in downtown Denver (due to increased supply?)


Smart Communities and Sustainability by Terrance Kane of Systems Management Group

Smart apartments are here, but this is just the beginning….new technology increasing rapidly The smart grids are modern electric power grid infrastructure for enhanced efficiency and reliability through automated control, high-power converters, modern communications infrastructure, sensing and metering technologies, and modern energy management techniques based on the optimization of demand, energy and network availability.


Resident Panel Focus Group by Elaine Williams Consulting

The Resident Panel featured apartment residents representing the Ballpark, DTC, Cherry Creek, Golden Triangle, Glendale, Central Downtown, Speer, Uptown, and Union Station. 43% were Millenials, 43% were Gen X, and 14% were Baby Boomers. 72% of the panel has lived in more than 2 communities in the past 3 years.  They represented garden, midrise, and high rise buildings ranked from A+ to B.  The age of the buildings range from brand new to 12 years old.

·Features that they want: location, security/key fob/concierge service, pet-friendly, fitness center, view, new modern appliances, interior amenities

·They all thought they would use the pool and the fitness center, but the majority do not.  Reasons included: prefers the gym closer to their job, broken equipment, dirty gym, sub-par equipment, no time for swimming.   What would make them use the gym would be on-demand classes, yoga instructor, lounge chairs, pool attendant, and towel service.

·Parking was one of the biggest issues for all of them. 

·They are all interested in having their apartments wired to be a Smart Home.  They really like the idea of a fingerprint entry.  As for a built-in Echo or similar, they would like just the capability to have it wired then they can bring their own system to use.

·Concierge Services were huge for them.  They liked having a gatekeeper and someone to take their packages.  They would be enticed by a building that had refrigerator/freezer storage for their online grocery shopping deliveries.

·More common workspace areas with plenty of charging stations, printers, and small conference rooms.  All of these panel members work from home in some capacity, so this was important to them. 

·As for the interior, they wouldn’t even dream of living in a unit that did not have an updated, modern, kitchen.  Their wish list includes granite or quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, and updated cabinetry.  Flooring must be hardwood or a vinyl that looks like wood.  

2017 AAMD Chili Cook-off

Stonebridge Builders once again had a great time at the Apartment Association Metro Denver's Annual Chili Cook-off.  This year's theme was "Food Nation."  Our Sales and Marketing team of Amy & Lance had a difficult time narrowing down their choices of a booth theme.  There were so many directions that they could have gone in from Food Network shows to regional themes. Ultimately, they narrowed it down to "St. Patrick's Day" featuring a Guinness Chili and "Jamaican Me Crazy" featuring a Jamaican Jerk Chicken Chili.  We let the Stonebridge employees vote, and our "Jamaican Me Crazy" theme won!  While we didn't win any prizes at the event, we got plenty of compliments on our Jamaican Jerk Chicken Chili and Jamaican Rum Punch!

Get the recipe HERE

4 Trends To Attract and Retain New Renters

In this modern housing market, in order to become and remain competitive, multifamily communities, developers and property owners need to understand and implement the current housing trends that attract new renters and keep them happy enough to stay put.   From construction and renovation trends to smart home technology, renters have made it clear what they want. Now it's time to deliver.   

Open Layouts

Floor plans in newly constructed multifamily communities are now following the same trends we've been seeing in the residential single-family housing for years. Open layouts with fewer dividing walls between the main living spaces like dining, kitchens and living areas look and feel bigger than their counterparts with the same square footage. Open floor plans are here to stay, so it makes sense to invest in already constructed properties and renovate to attract new renters. If you're considering renovating existing units to new layouts with open floor plans, call Stonebridge Builders, a Denver based commercial construction firm that specializes in apartment and multifamily renovations. Stonebridge offers expert consultations in design and renovation.   

Modern Materials 

Granite Countertops used to be the "it" or "go to" kitchen upgrade.  But now, builders and developers are answering the call for a more modern apartment concept that appeals to a new generation of renters. Poured concrete countertops combined with rustic looking lighting and metallic accents all create a more modern look and feel that satisfies the new renters' desire for a more urban and industrial look and feel. While traditional lighting works, replacing standard outdated lighting with a trendy new product is a low cost upgrade that will turn heads and deliver signed leases.   

Smart Home Technology 

The newest generation of renter is tech-savvy and they want home technology that aligns with their lifestyle. While it may seem like a poor investment for multifamily properties to adopt new in-home technology given that technology changes so rapidly, there are certain tech upgrades that are universally accepted and desired and come with minimal cost upfront, but may save money in the long run. LED lighting, web connected sensors for turning lights on and off and digital thermostats controlled with a mobile device save residents money, but also decrease the property's energy costs for common areas.   


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It used to be that a pool was all that was needed to create the feeling of luxury. But today's renters are looking for more. They want updated amenities that align with a more modern lifestyle. As more people are working remotely, renovating a common area to provide a business center or co-working space to accommodate residents that work from home can be a huge selling point to prospective residents.  Additionally, fenced in dog runs, on-site dog washes and package delivery rooms attract residents. 

If your community currently doesn't offer these amenities, Stonebridge Builders can design and build one at a low cost for a big return on investment. 

Are you a leader or THE leader?

Here is a blog post by our new marketing and sales coordinator, Amy Zamostny:

Ryan Avery presents at the Apartment Association of Metro Denver's September Power Lunch

Ryan Avery presents at the Apartment Association of Metro Denver's September Power Lunch

Yesterday, Lance and I went to the monthly PowerLunch hosted by the Apartment Association of Metro Denver.  Normally (or so I’m told!) they have just average speakers that don’t really make an impact on you, but yesterday was definitely different.  While it was geared towards sales and leasing consultants, Ryan Avery’s message resonated with everyone, because he gave small pieces of advice that are easy to change and better yourself. 

The title of Ryan’s seminar was “Go from “A” to “THE”: Stop being a leader and start being THE Leader.   Immediately my thoughts went to my alma mater, The Ohio State University.  People will ask me where I went to school, and I always say “The Ohio State University.”  I’m not trying to be snotty about it, but it’s the legal name. Back in 1878, they were on to something. With over 125 colleges and universities to choose from in Ohio alone, and with 2 other prominent nationally known OSUs, The Ohio State University knew that they were THE leader:

The “The” was actually part of the state legislation when the university was renamed in 1878. The following excerpt is from the Board of Trustee minutes: ”...the educational institution heretofore known as the ‘Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College,’ shall be known and designated hereafter as ‘The Ohio State University.” Those who wanted the name change thought the original name was too narrow in scope, and that it was inadequate for the institution that was the only beneficiary of the land grant act. President Edward Orton was insistent that a new name would separate the institution from other colleges in Ohio. Legend also has it that “The” was used to show the other colleges which institution was supposed to be the leader in the state - both in size and in financial support from the legislature.
— The Ohio State University

And Ryan’s program started out with examples similar to that.  They showed a football team (my beloved and frustrating Cleveland Browns) and then they showed THE football team (your beloved Super Bowl Champions Denver Broncos).  They showed a football player (I can’t even remember who it was) and then they showed THE Peyton Manning.  They showed a basketball player (a Denver Nugget, maybe Carmelo?) then they showed THE Michael Jordan.  You get the idea.  You can be a builder, but you want to be THE builder, the one we want top of mind when anyone thinks of THE builder is Stonebridge Builders.

Here are a few of his thought processes to turn you from a leader to THE leader in whatever your job position is.  Once we are all THE leaders of our field, then overall Stonebridge becomes THE leader of apartment renovations in Denver.  Think about how each of these can apply in your daily life.

  • When a leader talks, people pay attention.  But when THE Leader talks, people take action.
  • A leader gets ready, but THE leader stays ready
  • A leader has confidence, but THE leader demonstrates confidence.
  • You should always be prepared with the “4321” for your conversations.
    • 4 stories to share at any time:  1 personal success story, 1 professional success story, 1 personal failure story, 1 professional failure story (but never tell a story that does not add value to your situation).
    • 3 facts related to your industry
    • 2 quotes related to your industry
    • 1 question that you can always ask anyon
  • Confidence creates competence
  • People remember what they see first and feel last.
  • 90% of first impressions don’t change
  • Silence is the most powerful tool to use in sales
  • How your body moves dictates how you speak: Every time you move backwards, it’s a sign of weakness.  Step/project your body forward as you speak.  (Try this in the mirror.  The results are pretty amazing!)
  • Eliminate 2 words from your vocabulary: Just and Only. Lose those words and your confidence will soar. i.e. It’s just me in the marketing department.  I’m the only one in the marketing department. I am the marketing department.
  • Words are free, but they cost you a lot
  • “Do what you love because people are going to criticize you anyway.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Do not let one thing ruin everything
  • Confidence is the by product of you being courageous.  Where can you be more courageous?

A link to the preview of his speech:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDKPPbt2PP4


Stonebridge Builders Welcomes New Marketing & Sales Coordinator

Amy zamostny

Amy zamostny

Stonebridge Builders is pleased to announce that Amy Zamostny has been hired as our new Marketing & Sales Coordinator.  She will lead Stonebridge's marketing efforts, including our digital presence, advertising, social media, events, and assist our sales department.

Amy recently relocated to the Denver area from Bluffton, South Carolina, just outside of Hilton Head, where she was the longtime Marketing Director of the area's premier real estate development company.  While she is new to the multi-family industry, she brings a wealth of high-end real estate knowledge and unsurpassed creativity and ideas.  

Originally from the Cleveland area (yes, she remembers "The Drive" differently than most Broncos fans!), she is the newest Ohio State University Alumnae to join the Stonebridge team.  Amy lives in Arvada with her husband Russ, daughter Meredith, and son Jake.  In her "spare" time, she enjoys traveling (only 5 more states to go to hit all 50!), reading, and actually doing what she posts on Pinterest!  She is an avid Buckeyes fan and loves all Cleveland sports.  Amy also volunteers as the Communications Chairman for the PTO at her children's school.

The "Next Generation" Apartment - survey results of what renters really want

What is The Next Generation Apartment?  Read on for some interesting stats on what renters want based on results from the recent MFE survey.

Multifamily Executive Magazine recently engaged their Concept Community data partner, J Turner Research, to uncover the wants and needs of the next generation of renters in one of the largest research studies collecting over 84,000 responses nationwide. They dove deeply into the question of which unconventional amenities are renters willing to pay for.

The multifamily industry is consistently trying to come up with new ways to entice renters; upgraded interiors like hardwood flooring versus carpet, stylish lighting and trendy lifestyle amenities. But are those efforts attracting renters who are willing to pay extra for them? The clear answer from the research is No, especially given the consistently increasing rental rates over the past several years. But there are some exceptions, and if you’re looking to make some changes to your community, considering certain amenities over others may pay off in the end.

Nationwide, 84,924 residents living in 1,555 communities representing 26 apartment companies responded to the J Turner research survey. The majority of respondents were Millennials (18-34 years) at 59%, followed by Gen Xer’s (35-50) at 25% with Baby Boomers (51-70) and the Silent Generation (71 and older) combined at 15%.

The study was weighted to gain greater insights into certain topics like health and fitness amenities, electric car charging stations, bike storage and bike sharing opportunities, and Common Area and Smart Home upgrades. Here’s how they stacked up:

Smart Home Technology: Sure! If it saves money

Smart Home Technology.jpg

Renters want technology options that will ultimately save them money: number one on the list is free, in-home Wi-Fi, followed by smart thermostats, and then Energy Star kitchen appliances. However, it’s not just about money, they also want technology options offer convenience like keyless electronic front entry, in-unit built-in USB charging ports, motion-detection cameras, and motion-sensing lighting. Unfortunately, the survey didn’t yield statistics on the additional monthly amount renters are willing to pay, but the desire for money-saving smart technology was consistent throughout all demographic groups and spanned all generations.

24/7 Package Lockers: They want it!


Over the past several years, the recent popularity of online shopping has substantially increased the volume of packages delivered. There is minimal impact to single family homes but has a dramatic affect in multi-family residences. When asked how many packages residents receive per month, excluding the holiday season, over 25% answered at least one, 20% said two while 17% said 5 to 10. Owners and managers are having trouble keeping up with the increased volume and often have to come up with new systems for making sure packages are delivered securely to renters.  In some communities, because packages can go missing once delivered to a doorstep, residents authorize entry to their unit for package delivery in their absence. Despite creative approaches, over 27% of respondents said they have experienced problems or delays in receiving packages. When asked to rate the importance of 24/7 access Package Lockers, over 28% rated secure on site package storage as a top priority amenity and are willing to pay for it. 20% said they would pay additional rent of $5/month for this amenity.

Fitness Classes: Some do, most don’t.

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The survey asked renters to express their interest in several fitness related amenities, among them were yoga rooms, spin studios, golf simulators and conventional fitness equipment with Bluetooth connectivity etc. Three unconventional fitness amenities stood out as having the greatest interest and potential revenue generating impact: fitness classes, steam rooms and walking trails. 46% of all renters are willing to pay at least $5 extra per month for fitness classes. Of the 46%, 14% said having fitness classes would be worth an additional $15 in additional rent per month.  Steam rooms came in a close second with 43% of all renters willing to pay an extra $5/month. Of that 43%, 12% said a steam room would be worth $15/month extra.

Bike storage: Yes… if they have a bike or plan to get one.

Over a third (32.3%) of all renters currently own a bike and 11.8% more say they plan on getting one in the near future. With 44% of renters having a potential need for bike storage, does it make sense to create a designated bike storage space? The stats look good on this one, especially when you consider that 20% of all renters, whether they own a bike or not, are willing to pay $5/month for bike storage. 7.4% would kick in an additional $10/month and 4% would pay $15. In the end, 30% of all renters are willing to pay for bike storage, independent of bike ownership.

Bike sharing: Nah, not at this time.

Bike Sharing.jpg

The results show that while renters are enthused by the idea of a bike share program, few are willing to pay for it. Over 10% of all renters showed great enthusiasm for bike sharing. Another 22% ranked their interest at 5 on a 10 -point scale. However, when it came to putting money where their mouths are, only 26% are willing to shell out even $5/month for it. More renters are willing to pay for bike storage than bike sharing, so save the upfront and ongoing expense of a bike share and build a secure bike storage facility.

Electric Car Charging Stations:  Nope!

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J Turner’s Survey results found that 15% of renters intend to purchase an electric vehicle within the next 5 years. Of this 15%, just over half would be willing to pay for on site charging stations. However, that still leaves 85% of renters with intention to buy and no need for EV charging stations on-site.

When considering adding new amenities that will benefit renters and bring the biggest bang for your buck, the research shows that offering bike storage, providing 24/7 Package Lockers and upgrading units with smart technology are the best bets.  Stonebridge Builders specializes in common area upgrades and build outs for added amenities as well as in-unit renovations. Call to schedule a consultation today to generate more income tomorrow!

Look for full survey results of “the Next-Gen Apartment” study when they’re officially released at the 2016 Multifamily Executive Conference next month.

Maintaining Market Share With Rehab and Renovation

Last month in our newsletter we talked about how Denver is in the midst of a boom. U.S. News ranked Denver #2 in the 100 best places to live in the US. A report that analyzed employment trends in the nation's 100 largest cities, also ranked Denver second in the nation for job seekers. The local multifamily housing market hasn't hesitated to take advantage of Denver's reputation.

Over 80 new projects were completed in the last 5 years. 25,000 units are currently under construction and will be completed this year with 3,246 new apartments already delivered in the first quarter. In a typical market, that might push vacancies up and drive rents down, however Denver isn't a typical market and properties like Dakota Ridge, a Berkshire Community located in Littleton, CO. know this.   Despite increases in inventory, rents are up. In March, metro Denver rental rates were 3.2 percent higher than last year. This exceeds the national average of 2.4 percent. Unincorporated Arapahoe County, Littleton and South Lakewood were among several other areas that saw increases at 5% and more. Given the market, existing projects need to look at ways to compete and hold their market share. And that's exactly what Dakota Ridge, a Berkshire Community located in Littleton CO, has done.

Stonebridge Builders has been fortunate to work with Berkshire Communities on several multifamily renovation and rehab projects. Their current project, the ongoing renovation of 480 units at Dakota Ridge, is a true partnership, with top to bottom oversight from Stonebridge and consistent timely feedback from Dakota Ridge.   Property manager, Kelsey Carter explained that in order to justify rent increases, maintain their share of the market and compete with other complexes, they needed to update the look and feel of their units as well as improve function and efficiency.   Based on market research, Dakota Ridge was anticipating adding an average rent premium of $65 - $225 based on the number of bedrooms in the unit. With the project a third of the way complete, a premium has been added to the rent for renovated apartments, however it exceeds their projections by as much as 37% in some cases.  

Dakota Ridge deliberately chose specific upgrades based on industry and market trends as well as feedback from residents and prospects. Certain upgrades were selected more for aesthetic purpose. For example, outdated bar level counter tops were replaced with single level surfaces to align with more desirable current kitchen design features. Other upgrades were chosen for improved function, durability and reduced maintenance long term, in addition to appearance. Vinyl blinds were replaced with 2-inch wood blinds. According to Carter, resident misuse has a greater impact on vinyl blinds and from the outside looking in aged vinyl blinds give a dated, unpolished look and feel. Replacing them with wood reduces maintenance costs, extends the life of the product and provides a more cohesive appearance between the interior and exterior.   In first floor units, plank hardwood flooring was installed to replace carpet and vinyl. According to a survey done by Multifamily Executive's Concept Communitythe current renter wants hardwood flooring over carpet and they are willing to pay extra for it. Aware of this trend, Dakota Ridge believed they could achieve an additional rent premium of $15-40 for first floor units with plank hardwood over second and third floor units where it is not yet an option.  Given market conditions, on average they were actually able to achieve premiums 40-75% higher than projected.  

Choosing the right builder is one of the most critical components when undergoing a major renovation project. Berkshire Communities chose Stonebridge Builders for the Dakota Ridge rehabilitation project based on a long standing relationship and proven track record of success on previous projects.   About Stonebridge, Carter says that the main thing that sets them apart from other builders is how they handle situations with unexpected outcomes. Even with a perfect plan, things can still go awry. She explains, "Stonebridge works to make things right rather than placing blame where things went wrong. They are solution focused versus situation focused. Stonebridge's attitude is, it doesn't matter how it happened or who's fault it is, it's about how are we going to make it right."  

Stonebridge's President and CEO, Chris Tolar, says, "Our client relationships are equally as important as the quality of our work. Communication is paramount to the success of any project and we make that our number one priority from our first contact with the client, throughout construction and long after the completion of the project. That's how we do business."  

As an industry expert and leader, Stonebridge is the natural choice for any multifamily community or apartment renovation and rehabilitation. Contact us for industry insights, planning and execution of your next project. 



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Value-Add Projects Like Kitchen and Baths Yield Big ROI

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When a local multifamily community was feeling the pressure of Denver's highly competitive rental market, they turned to Stonebridge Builders for help. They needed to consider upgrades not only to address deferred maintenance issues and outdated amenities, but also to justify rent increases to be consistent with local demand.   In densely populated urban areas with many options for apartment living, property owners need to set themselves apart from the competition. For many, this means rehabilitation projects to bring value where others don't. By industry standards, a successful renovation project should generate rent increases between 10-30%from interior improvements, and renovations to kitchens and baths tend to generate the greatest ROI.     

A great example of this strategy is Home Properties, headquartered in Rochester, NY. The company owns over 43,000 units in 121 properties primarily located in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. The company strategy is to acquire assets that most other developers would not be interested in. They're not looking for the newest, most attractive or luxury communities. The assets they acquire are in need of rehabilitation. The company knows that by rehabbing and renovating properties that are "a little beaten up and a little run-down" they can achieve substantial rent increases, which ultimately drives revenue. This strategy has yielded an 11.4 percent average annual total return over the past 10 years, and a 5- year compounded return of 11.7 percent.

Deferred maintenance is certainly an area of focus in multifamily renovation, however the most significant investments are made in upgrading kitchens and baths.   In Denver, Stonebridge Builders helped the local company to exercise this strategy and achieve the same results. Kitchens were upgraded with updated cabinetry and counter tops, state of the art appliances and both pendant and recessed  lighting to create a brighter look and feel. Baths were also remodeled with upgraded materials and lighting, which justified rent increases, encouraged retention and decreased vacancies.  

If your multifamily property could use a little TLC, and you're considering a value-add project, look to Stonebridge Builders for a consultation and ultimately for a seamless and successful process.  

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In the Midst of a Boom, Existing Properties Need to Compete with New Construction

Denver is in the midst of a boom in the multifamily market. Over 80 new projects were completed in the last 5 years, and with 25,000 units under construction this year and 3,246 new apartments delivered in the first quarter, existing projects need to step it up to compete.

Average rents for apartments built since 2010 are 60% higher than rents for apartments built in the 1970’s. Compare $1729 versus $1079 respectively and it’s clear that outdated multifamily properties need to renovate, remodel and add amenities in order to take advantage of rising rental rates. 

Chris Tolar, President of Stonebridge Builders, a Denver-based commercial construction company specializing in apartment renovations says, “The bulk of our business is in multi-unit apartment rehabs. Regardless of location, property owners are feeling the pressure to upgrade and update individual units given the current market conditions. The increase in inventory of brand new units is creating a pressure to keep up and compete. “

Stonebridge Builders Business Development Director, Lance Miller, confirms that complete unit renovations and clubhouse remodels consist of the bulk of their contracts for properties with larger renovation budgets. However, for apartment communities with tighter budgets, upgrading existing common areas and clubhouses and adding amenities like BBQs, dog runs, dog washes and especially package rooms, allows them to compete with new construction.

Construction of a package room can be a big upgrade at a relatively low price point compared to other renovations. Package rooms provide a much desired, convenient service for residents. Safe, 24-7 access to package retrieval is an amenity most residents are willing to pay extra for, and can be a deciding factor when choosing a community.

Tolar says, “Since Amazon has come on the scene, with most people doing the bulk of their shopping online these days, it can be a major burden for the on-site staff to constantly have to pull packages for residents. As a solution, we convert space inside of a clubhouse or common area into a self-service package retrieval facility. For communities that just don’t have inside space to convert, outdoor/weatherproof lockers are also available. Also, we can, and have built additions to house a new package room when space is limited.”

Whether you’re considering a complete overhaul of your multifamily property, a new clubhouse or looking to add or upgrade specific amenities, call Stonebridge Builders, the industry expert in Rehabs and construction.