Imagine the thrill of being part of a team that takes the idea of an apartment community and a plot of land from the drawing board to tangible reality.
That's what people who work in multifamily development and construction experience. It's challenging work, but it's creative and immensely satisfying, and it calls for an extremely wide range of talents.
It's also a part of the multifamily industry that looks to be very busy in the coming years. According to one report, the U.S. will need 4.3 million new apartment homes by 2035 just to keep up with growing demand.
Add it all up, and multifamily development and construction is a fantastic career choice. Best of all, this career is more than simply collecting a paycheck. It's a career that engages you. Because you're helping to build people's homes, it's work with a purpose.
Click on the links below to learn about the specializations within multifamily development and construction and the kinds of jobs available within those specializations:
This is where the planning of an apartment development takes place, from researching markets and the feasibility of a community to obtaining the necessary entitlements and permits. A well-organized and effective pre-development is essential to the long-term success of the project.
Market Research & Feasibility
Market research and feasibility experts determine whether a proposed apartment development is economically viable. They dig deep into a local market's business and economic data to analyze whether demand would be strong enough to support the new apartment community.
- Development Analyst
These analysts help apartment companies identify development opportunities by tracking potential development sites and conducting thorough market analysis. They analyze the potential cash flows of a proposed development, and they also may support a developer's rezoning efforts and help prepare RFPs.
- Financial Analyst
The financial analyst determines the financial feasibility of a development, examining the complex financial matrix of the project from land exploration to the final brick. Financing an apartment development often involves numerous partners including equity investors, lenders, ownership partners and more. They need a dedicated resource to manage all of the moving parts.
- Market Researcher
Market researchers are the oracles of the local public. They dig deep into the data of the people who live in the market, the people who might want to live in the community and how much they might be willing to pay to live there. Ultimately, they determine whether the target prospective renters can afford and would want to live at the community. Market research is critical to predicting the potential success or failure of a multi-million dollar investment.
The entitlement process consists of obtaining local government approvals to develop a community. It is vital to the development cycle. Before construction can start, a developer has to have the right zoning designation for a site (this may require going through the rezoning process) and make sure all required permits and permissions have been granted.
Planning & Design
Let the creativity begin. The planning and design phase is where architects and designers put their collective creativity to work. They design the community to not only fit into the future vision for the neighborhood, but also the hopes and dreams of potential future renters. They can be a little particular.
Apartment communities, like all buildings, are works of art, just on a slightly more restricted canvas. The architect’s job is to design them to reflect the artistic vision of the developer while meeting the requirements of local governments and ordinances. But their duties extend beyond just creating the look of a new development. They consult with engineers, surveyors and other specialists to make sure a proposed design is practical and adheres to relevant regulations and building codes.
- Interior Design
Interior designers create the ambiance and ultimately set the tone for the living experience, bringing an apartment community's interior spaces to life. They define the personality of a community. Interior designers are in charge of selecting such items as the paint colors, appliances and fixtures that are featured in rooms. But they also must be well versed in building codes, wiring and plumbing to make their visions a reality.
- Landscape Design
Landscape design is three-dimensional art at its very core. Landscape designers are charged with meticulously creating the ambiance and feel of an apartment community’s outdoor spaces. They plan where trees, plants, walkways and water features will be located, as well as what type of trees and plants will be installed.
Managing the development of a multi-million dollar apartment community is project management at its most sophisticated. Scheduling and managing literally thousands of details from securing permits to ordering light fixtures, development project managers are responsible for ensuring everything gets done on time and on budget. This career is perfect for the detail-oriented leader.
Management of a multi-million dollar development is a big job. Development managers oversee everything from land selection and research to handing off the community to operations. They have to exhibit both passion for the project and a real attention to detail to ensure the community is successfully developed.
- VP Project Management
The VP of project management isn’t responsible for just one development project. At any given time this associate could be managing several billions of dollars worth of development projects. And the VP has to be well versed in seemingly miniscule details to ensure every project starts and finishes as efficiently as possible.
- Project Manager
Project managers oversee all aspects of an apartment development, from the design phase to the construction and the marketing of the new community. A project manager also oversees the budgeting and funding of a new development.
Talk about needing a talent for organization and an eye for detail. Putting together an apartment development's schedule is a beast of a job. It involves determining what tasks need to be done, when they need to be done by and what resources are needed to get the job done. A project schedule outlines all of the work needed to deliver the development by the targeted date.
Developing an apartment company is kind of a big deal. So big that no one person (or company) can get the job done. You need an array of subcontractors to handle the many different, highly specialized tasks like installing carpet, planning electrical wiring, framing, roofing, painting and so much more.
Estimating & Purchasing
When you were in college, you probably never thought you’d have a budget with so many zeros following the first digit in it. Estimators and purchasers working on development projects have enormous budgets and the responsibility that comes with them. They’re responsible for estimating the costs of a development project and building a complex budget. They also are tasked with managing the procurement of all necessary materials and contractors to make the project a reality.
Construction managers get the job done. They’re responsible for overseeing the construction of the community from the first shovel to the final brick. This includes making sure all building codes and regulations are followed, and involves leading and managing subcontractors and the onsite labor force.
Onsite Managers live for the sites, sounds and activity of the construction site. They’re there every day to make sure that the community is being built on schedule and in accordance with all applicable regulations.
- General Contractor
A general contractor is an individual or a company that manages the day-to-day operations and oversight of a construction site. They select and manage subcontractors, make sure construction is proceeding on schedule and on budget, and keep all parties firmly in the loop on the progress of the project.
- Construction Supervisor
The construction supervisor gets deep in the weeds on a construction site. They’re responsible for managing a specific aspect of the construction project, like framing or the parking garage. They report up to the construction manager or director to ensure every detail of their project is on schedule and in alignment with other responsibilities.
- Construction Director/Manager
Construction directors/managers plan, budget and manage the construction of a new apartment community from start to finish. They spend the bulk of their day at the construction site itself, where they oversee the project and make on-the-spot decisions as issues arise. They manage a project's subcontractors and report on the progress of the project to the developer.
- Safety Inspector
It's hard to imagine a more important role than safety inspector. Safety inspectors monitor all phases of an apartment development's construction to make sure it's adhering to all applicable rules and regulations, including OSHA requirements. They also make sure the finished product meets all relevant building codes and zoning requirements.
From air conditioning specialists to painters, these are the various skilled workers who put the guts of an apartment community into place. They don’t make anything that’s pretty by marketing standards, but their work is key to both the functionality of the community and the long-term value of the asset.
- HVAC Specialist
HVAC specialists install an apartment community's heating, ventilation, cooling and refrigeration systems. Their work is quite physical, as they use a variety of tools and often find themselves in cramped spaces. This is definitely a job for someone who hates the idea of sitting behind a desk every day.
In new developments, electricians design and install a building's electrical wiring systems. They determine the best locations for electrical outlets, light fixtures, heating outlets and ventilation systems. Being an electrician requires a variety of skills, including an ability to easily read blueprints, a comfort with a variety of tools and the ability to quickly troubleshoot issues that arise suddenly.
Plumbers install and repair everything that involves water, including water supply lines, drainage systems and the connected appliances. If it involves the transfer of water from one place to another, the plumber makes sure it works without leaks now or in the future. This is a physical job that's ideal for those who don't mind working unconventional hours as plumbers often are called upon to address after-hour emergencies.
Framers build the foundations and the wooden frames of the buildings of an apartment community. This is a position for those who love working with their hands and enjoy a physically demanding job. Responsible for building the skeleton of the community, framers lift heavy materials, use power tools and need to stand, crouch and bend while on the job.
Drywallers hang wallboard onto a building's framing and then prepare the wall's surface for painting or wallpapering. Creating a flat, beautiful wall is a more artistic endeavor than it appears on the surface. And it’s physically demanding, requiring drywallers to spend their work days bending, lifting and standing.
Multifamily painters are at the top of their game, recommending the right category of paint to maintain the beauty of the interiors and exteriors of apartment communities. They need to understand what types of paint will hold up best in the conditions they’ll be applied, while possessing physical stamina and good balance to work on ladders and platforms. Those with a fear of heights need not apply.