Snead Construction

Snead ConstructionR.S. Snead Construction LLC is helping to bring many projects to life in the Washington, D.C., metro region, such as South Cathedral Mansions.
By Eric Slack

Founded in 2010 by Chris Heisey, Snead Construction is a full-service general contractor serving the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Since its inception, the company has demonstrated success on a diverse array of projects, specializing in the multifamily and single-family home residential sector.

“We average three to four on-going multi-family projects each year, ranging in size from four units to 165 units. We also have a division of our company, Snead Custom Homes, that focuses on single family homes in the suburbs of D.C.,” Senior Vice President Chris Mansuy says. “The residential market here in D.C. made a relatively quick turn-around after the bubble burst in 2008 compared with much of the rest of the country, and it has remained strong for us since.”

Making its Mark

Over the last few years, Snead has showcased its ability to tackle challenging urban infill, historic renovation and specialty projects. The company seeks to help project owners in creating value by providing deliverables on time and within budget. It looks to maintain high-quality construction that exceeds clients’ expectations, allowing Snead to build strong relationships by providing an efficient construction process on renovations, new construction projects and tenant build-outs.

“We’re not a national company,” Mansuy says. “We’re able to keep up to date on every changing building code and permit processes here in the District that cause a project to succeed or get held up. D.C. is small town, and everyone knows each other or knows someone via one degree of separation, so you have to be always on your game or your reputation can take a hit. We’ve built strong relationships very quickly with everyone involved in the development and construction process.” Snead

Snead started out doing smaller, 20-unit or fewer projects. As it grew, it added to its staff, bringing in people of different backgrounds with their own ideas, experiences and connections. It also developed a reliable subcontractor and vendor pool while also learning how to grow into a more professionally run and process based company while still holding onto the ability to be flexible and think outside of the box for clients.

“Often, our existing building renovation projects have tenants in place or involve historic preservation to some degree, which introduces a whole new level of logistical challenges that new construction projects don’t have to deal with. We’ve built our company with a core group of construction managers who are able to plan for and manage construction around these logistical challenges while keeping our clients’ end goals in mind,” Mansuy says. “As a result, our advantage in the marketplace is that we don’t approach typical construction work with just a builders’ mindset. We approach all of our construction projects with the end-goals of our developer clients front and foremost in our mind at all times.”

Devotion to Duty

Among the projects that stand out for Snead is the South Cathedral Mansions project. South Cathedral Mansions is a property located at 2900 Connecticut Ave NW at the northwest corner of Cathedral and Connecticut avenues in Woodley Park nearby the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan Metro station and three blocks from the Cleveland Park metro station. It is across the street from The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and close to Rock Creek Park. It is a walkable environment with markets, restaurants, retail, a movie theater and more all close to the property.

Snead has been working to fully renovate this historic property. The renovation includes adding units to the existing building, full interior renovation of existing units and the common area, as well as upgrades in mechanical, electrical and plumbing throughout the building. Amenity space includes adding a gym and party room to the existing building. The project was phased over two years, as some tenants remained in place during construction.

“We worked hand-in-hand with the developer on the project, working with existing residents and looking at how people live in 2016 and beyond,” Project Manager Dan McCarthy says. “Our goal was to bring the property up to modern functionality while retaining the historic look and feel.”

The project has been underway with planning starting in 2014 and is nearing completion before the end of the year. The finished project will feature 165 units, fully new MEP systems throughout, all new kitchens and baths with upgraded finishes, all new windows and facade restoration, and extensive landscape improvement.

“We improved internal spaces while upgrading the exterior,” McCarthy says. “From street level it looks fresh and new. The inside is above and beyond what it was, adding Nest thermostats, smart door locks and upgrading MEP packages. These are the kinds of things you see in custom homes in a rental apartment in the city. We created amenity spaces by recapturing existing boiler rooms and basement storage space, and installed a pool and a planting area in the rear courtyard.”

“Having this high-profile project in our portfolio is important for us,” Mansuy says. “This will definitely be something we can point to with pride. It is always challenging to renovate historic properties with tenants in place and future clients will recognize the unique challenges that we had to overcome to successfully complete this project.”

Moving Forward

As Snead looks ahead, it understands the challenges in its market. There is a lot of activity taking place, and the subcontractor community is stretched thin. As a result, material, labor and construction costs are going up. The strain on the market resulting from many subs being at capacity means it is important for Snead need to get into projects early, working with owners on pre-construction agreements and getting subs involved early as well.

“We want them to work with us through design so we can move away from competitive bids and toward negotiated bid situations,” Mansuy says. “There is a need for all parties to commit to each other early, build a level of trust and understand everyone’s expectations.”

The company is also staying on top of what developers – and tenants – want in their properties. That is why Snead is looking to install more backbone systems and hardware to allow multi-family dwelling units to be compatible with the ever-changing wireless smart home products that are hitting the market.

“Infrastructure wiring for smart home features in multi-family projects is something that we’re seeing on the rise. More and more developers are requesting and discussing the cost benefit analysis on those elements so they can choose to include those elements as units are set up during the base building without needing a lot of rework at the point of sale,” Mansuy says.

In the end, Snead is confident that it can pursue growth in the coming years. Its performance on projects such as South Cathedral Mansions has helped the company build a reputation that should provide it with ample opportunity to bring more exciting projects to the marketplace.

“Over the next five years, we are looking for growth in all aspects,” Mansuy says. “We want to provide opportunities for personal growth for employees while finding growth in projects in terms of both quantity and size.”

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