SBI Builders Inc. – Fuller Street Apartments

SBI Builders Inc. CFO James Amlicke considers the company to be a small, boutique builder capable of working on large-ticket projects. “We’re a company doing three to five projects a year with a total value of $50 million to $100 million annually,” he says. “Our senior management knows every person in the company.”

Although many of SBI’s counterparts in the California multifamily construction market have a much larger capacity and higher project load, the company is more than competitive when it comes to quality and knowledge. “The level of sophistication and technology that we utilize for a company of our size is what truly differentiates us from competitors,” Amlicke adds. “We’re leveraging technology that only the largest construction companies are using.”

One of those technologies – VICO Office Suite – 3-D BIM system is being used on one of the company’s current projects, the $30 million Fuller Street Apartments project in Redwood City, Calif. The software enables the project manager, architect and designer to see pre-construction details to solve problems during design as well as improve team communication and estimate the project scope, the company says. 

“Clash detection is our first reason to use this technology, but beyond that, it allows us to better stack our trades and build better and more efficient schedules,” Amlicke says. “This technology gives us more insight into the building’s various assemblies and how those impact the timeframe, cost and labor requirements.”

The 3-D models generated by the VICO system will also help the company place HVAC and plumbing elements that are fabricated off site, CEO Paul Nuytten says. The company will also use the Smart Components shear wall system to frame the building; those beams are also pre-fabricated. The metal studs used in the building will also be predrilled offsite at three different places to accommodate wiring. 

In addition to BIM, the company maintains paperless methods of communicating with its subcontractors. The company uses Procore for project management collaboration and Textura Construction Payment Management to digitally process invoices and payments, Amlicke notes.

Project Amenities 

The use of BIM technology and prefabricated building elements will allow SBI to complete the Fuller Street Apartments project on a narrow timeframe. Foundation work on the project began in June 2014, and framing will begin in January. The project is anticipated to be finished in November 2015.

The 128,310-square-foot building will feature five levels above grade and two underground parking levels. The building’s majority will feature detailed stucco as well as precast concrete.

The complex will include 133 total market-rate and affordable apartment units. Building amenities include a fitness center, landscaped courtyard, dog park and rooftop deck with a spa, grill and entertainment area. Each tenant will be able to access these amenities as well as their units using a digital key.

The building will also include a digital notification screen near its main elevators. Tenants will receive package notifications as well as other information on the screen, Nuytten says. 

The two-level basement garage will have spaces for 160 cars and 32 bicycles, and will also include 50 electric vehicle-charging stations, Amlicke says. 

The electric charging stations are one element of the building that will allow it to meet California Green Building Standards (CALGreen) standards. The building will also include a solar hot water system, a photovoltaic system, low-flow plumbing fixtures and Nest learning thermostats. The thermostats, which are typically not used in multifamily projects in the region, learn heating and cooling behaviors and adjust themselves automatically, he adds. 

Relationship Building 

This is SBI’s first project with developers Acclaim Co. “Our hats go off to them,” Amlicke says. “They’re a phenomenal group to work with, and an up-and-comer in the Northern California marketplace; I think they will be doing amazing things, including this project.”

SBI started in 2005, at a time when single-family residential communities in California were thriving. Although the company initially focused on single-family projects, several of its owners and project managers had previous experience in the multifamily sector. This allowed the company to transition to affordable housing projects when the single-family market collapsed during the recession, he adds. 

The company today focuses on mid-market or luxury apartments, but also builds affordable housing apartments as well as some for-sale units. SBI works with many of the same subcontractors and architects on several of its projects. “The vast majority of the subcontractors we’ve working with on Fuller Street Apartments are companies we’ve worked with multiple times before,” Nuytten says. “All of our relationships with the architect team and the subcontractor team from the top down have been outstanding.”

SBI also looks to build long-term relationships with its clients. “Our overall goal is to be a client-oriented company and maximize repeat business more than just searching for work,” Nuytten adds. “We want to work with the companies we know will treat us well.” 

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