Western Builders

Western BuildersWestern Builders has stood out through exceptional performance on wood-frame housing and in other sectors in New England.  
By Eric Slack 

For more than 40 years, Western Builders has earned a reputation in New England for the strength of its preconstruction, general contracting and construction management services. Founded in 1975 as a business unit of The O’Connell Companies, Western Builders specializes in wood-frame structures, and working with academic, senior housing and healthcare clients. 

“Western celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, and we established ourselves in this region because of our ability to get larger wood-frame projects done,” President Chris Boino says. “We’ve evolved as needed over time to get into different market sectors and work with different materials, but we’ve seen a return to wood-frame projects thanks to advances in engineered wood products and interest in sustainability and LEED certification.”

Collaborative Approach

Based in Granby, Mass., Western Builders has a long history working on heavy timber and wood framed projects, a tradition that the company continues today. Being associated with a substantial parent firm, Western Builders offers clients a collaborative and personalized experience along with a wide range of resources allowing the company to handle a vast array of complex and challenging projects.

The company understands how to work closely with owners, architects, engineers and subcontractors to address all aspects of the construction process from constructability review and conceptual and subsequent estimating to material procurement, cost control, and warranty and closeout administration. It is comfortable working on projects whether they are fixed price or negotiated construction management contracts, and its team works together to generate and maintain accurate budgets, execute schedules, and oversee site logistics and safety. western builders box

Western Builders has worked on a variety of new construction, remodeling and repurposing projects throughout its history. It has worked on projects in western and eastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod, southern Connecticut and the New Hampshire lakes region. The company knows how to meet the building requirements of residential, commercial and municipal complexes and facilities, and it has extensive experience complying with preservation standards established by organizations such as the National Register of Historic Places and the Massachusetts Historic Commission.

“Our company has been built on relationships and keeping our word,” Boino says. “This approach to business has built trust with owners and architects, and those companies are asking us to travel with them.” 

Western Builders likewise credits the strength of the various subcontractors it partners with on a regular basis for its success. “Relationships Western builds with the subcontractors we work with allow us to bring their expertise to the table when owners and architects look to us for sound construction advice,” Boino adds. 

Recent Success

One of the current multi-residential projects that Western Builders is focusing on is the HAP Housing – Live 155 project in Northampton, Massachusetts. HAP Housing is the largest nonprofit developer of affordable housing in western Massachusetts and a collaborative partner in urban neighborhood revitalization. HAP is also a repeat client for Western Builders, inviting the company to assist the engineer and architect in achieving 100 percent construction documents. Through the combined efforts of HAP, Peter Frothingham Registered Architect, LDa Architects out of Cambridge, civil designer GZA GeoEnvrionmental, structural designer Roome and Guarracino, and MEP designer Building Engineering Resources, Western Builders’ work on the 44,000-square-foot project broke ground in September 2016.

The project involves the construction of a 70-unit, mixed-use, universally accessible and energy-efficient affordable housing development. It will serve both market-rate and subsidized tenants, and it will also include a satellite HAP office that will enhance the nonprofit’s ability to serve Hampshire County clients.

“This kind of project can be challenging because of the various funding groups involved and the complex budgeting and financial aspects,” Boino says. “It is also in an urban area in downtown Northampton, and we’ve had to account for issues such as proximity to a bike path and another building as well as demolishing an aging structure on site.”

Another multi-residential project that Western Builders recently completed was the Stonebrook Village at Windsor Locks, Conn. Working in concert with Gori and Associates Architects of Minneapolis, Minn. and Optimus Senior Living Group based in Easthampton, Mass., Western provided essential design build assistance to drive the completion on budget and on schedule of the assisted and independent living facility. Due to the success of this project, Western has been invited to team with Optimus and Gori Associates on other negotiated work. 

Western Builders worked on the four-story, 105,000-square-foot project with civil designer Close, Jensen & Miller and structural designer Nelson Rudie & Associates. The project began in October 2015 and wrapped up in time for residents to move in by September 2016. It is a senior living residence consisting of 112 units, 36 of which are independent living, 54 assisted-living and 22 memory care units. The community also includes a movie theater, dining facility, hair salon, fitness center and a chapel.

“That project was located on an entirely wooded 4 acre lot adjacent to former tobacco fields in Connecticut,” Boino says. “We completed the project in 11 months, and on-time turnover is key in that market because of complexities inherent in the timing of moves and high costs associated with temporary living arrangements if the project runs over on schedule.   Because of our experience in that market, we are able to provide tremendous value for clients and architects; producing high quality projects at low cost.”

Moving Forward

Western Builders expects affordable housing and senior living projects to continue to be a big part of its operations. Demand is high for those kinds of projects, and Western Builders has a demonstrated record for success in those areas. “Housing is booming right now in our market, whether it is senior housing, assisted living, veteran, affordable or market rate,” Boino says.

Western Builders’ approach in marketing is to allow the quality of their finished buildings to speak.  By delivering their projects on time and on budget and committing to a degree of customer service that has come to be a hallmark of Western to its clients, positive word of mouth spreads news of Western Builders capabilities.   The success of their approach has led to many repeat business opportunities, and the company emphasizes its open and collaborative attitude in attracting prospective clients.

 “We share everything,” Boino says. “We closely engage with clients throughout the entire process, providing them with the best service we can and a complete focus on their project. If we deliver great, high-quality projects that are on time and on budget, that will support our company over time.”

In the end, Western Builders plans to take a conservative approach to growth and focus on legitimate opportunities that come about by partnering with well-established and reputable owners and architects. The company has a staff that is full of experienced individuals – many of whom have been with Western for decades – and the entire team is focused on delivering projects that meet deadlines and budgets while living up to the high quality standards that Western Builders has established. 

“Making sure we deliver on our promises and satisfy clients is our priority,” Boino says. “We are always looking to improve, evolve and build on our longevity, building off of our experience and injecting it with a willingness to look ahead and change with the industry.”

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