Current Builders

After four decades, Current Builders (CB) has gained expertise in multiple construction markets, including luxury developments. “We have a lot of experience building garden-style apartment projects,” Project Manager Staci Thirlwell says. “It’s our forte; Current Builders is very competitive in this market.”

The general contractor is showing those skills as it builds The Residences at Lakehouse in southwestern Miami Lakes, Fla. When finished, Lakehouse will have 21 two-story buildings with 270 apartment units.

Project developer The Graham Cos. says the buildings will surround a 1.25-acre lake, while 26 of the units will be townhouses with attached garages. 

CB started Lakehouse in August 2011 and is contracted to finish it in November 2012. However, “We have goals to finish a couple months early,” Thirlwell reports. 

Overcoming Obstacles

CB has found it a challenge to find subcontractors with the necessary bonding to perform work on the Lakehouse project, Thirlwell says. “Anytime we required bonds from subcontractors, we had trouble with their bonding capacity not meeting the contract value,” she recalls.  “It makes it very difficult during negotiations.  Once we make a deal and send the contract requirements to the subcontractor, we find ourselves stalled due to bonding issues.

“Due to the current state of the industry, the company has to research subcontractor financials [before] they even get started out here,” she says, adding that some of CB’s longtime subs have left the industry in the recession.  

Also, subs are having difficulty hiring qualified field personnel.  Many individuals who had been out of work for over a year decided to change careers.  “We thought the workforce issues were a problem before the recession, but now it has become more critical, probably sooner than the industry had anticipated.” 

Other challenges are work delays due to shortages of building materials. “Things that used to be on the shelf [are] not on the shelf anymore,” she says. “It’s definitely harder [to build a project].” 

This includes materials for all trades and items as simple as windowsills.  Supply is short because there has not been a demand for product during the downturn.  It is also too costly for suppliers to keep inventory, so now projects have to account for fabrication time when it used to be available next day for installation.

Despite these setbacks, Thirlwell says the team has not lost sight of the project’s schedule or ignored safety on the site. “It’s a company policy that the project team ensures[safety] is maintained,” she says. “We do everything we can to make sure [everyone stays safe].” 

CB requires all subs to provide project-specific safety plans as part of their contract. 

Staying Busy

Based in Pompano Beach, Fla., CB has constructed more than 20,000 multifamily units and 4.5 million square feet of industrial and commercial projects. The company is licensed to work in Florida, Texas, North and South Carolina, Mississippi and Georgia.

CB began as a subsidiary of Gulfstream Land and Development in 1972, and became a privately held firm 13 years later. The company says its success is largely due to its associates.

“Our principals have over 150 years of collective experience with CB,” the company says. “And our staff of professionals has extensive expertise – in the office and on-site.”

Along with Lakehouse, Thirlwell says CB is staying busy with Sunrise Village, a residential multifamily project in Sunrise, Fla. The project, which will be finished in 2013, consists of 501 apartment units in 10 buildings. CB expects to start other projects this year in Miami, Alta Mira Apartments and two additional projects in Palm Beach County.  

She adds that CB should keep busy throughout 2012 and into 2013. “I am hearing that a lot of projects are coming up and things are picking up in the residential market,” she explains. “We’re going to stay strong.”

CB made a point to improve operations internally during the recession so when the industry picked up again, it could handle projects more efficiently.  CB also is at the forefront of using building information modeling as a construction application. This has saved the company a lot of time and money by avoiding conflicts before they were found in the field.

She also predicts that CB could work again with Graham Cos., since Miami Lakes has an abundance of undeveloped land. “I would think that if they would want to do another project, they would consider us,” she says.

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