Leader in the multi-family cabinet/ quartz counter top industry

Understanding the Basics of Building Multifamily Structures

Most builders understand how complex and challenging it can be to build an apartment complex or multifamily building. There are lots of steps involved, including selecting the right location, complying with building codes, and carefully planning and executing each step throughout the building process.

Indeed, building a multifamily home requires a lot from you as the builder. But, with the right plan in place, you can turn your construction plans into a multifamily building that your tenants can enjoy for years to come.

Today’s blog addresses the planning and design, building codes and regulations, and construction process of any multifamily building. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about these phases of the building process. 

Planning & Design

There are four aspects of planning and designing a multifamily structure: selecting your site, architectural design, floor plans, and amenities and common areas. 

  • Site selection and zoning requirements. Several factors will ensure success in building a multifamily home, including researching local zoning laws, location accessibility, proximity to public transportation, and essential services like grocery stores and doctors.
    When selecting your site, you’ll want to analyze the topography, soil type, and potential environmental hazards to ensure it’s a good place for your building. You’ll ultimately want to choose a site that meets your developmental objectives while meeting the needs of your future residents.
  • Architectural design considerations. You’ll want a design that factors in aesthetic appeal and functionality. In other words, you want it to look nice and have a layout that works for your future occupants.
    The number of units, unit mix, and the configuration of common areas impacts the building’s layout. It’s also important to consider accessibility and compliance with local building codes and regulations.
    Finding a balance between form and function will create a desirable living environment while meeting the practical requirements of a multifamily structure.
  • Unit mix and floor plans. The unit mix refers to the ratio of different types of units in the building, including studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, or three-bedroom apartments. Market demand, demographics, and resident needs are essential to planning the unit mix.
    Floor plans should maximize the available space while considering how many occupants there will be, along with the need for privacy and accessibility. Storage, in-unit laundry, and outdoor space should be incorporated where possible.  

A well-designed unit mix and floor plan will provide comfort for residents while maximizing your rental income.

  • Amenities and common areas. Fitness centers, swimming pools, outdoor spaces, and communal workspaces are among the amenities many residents expect. You can determine what to include in your multifamily building based on market demand and your target demographic’s needs.
    Your lobby, hallways, and outdoor spaces should be visually appealing while accommodating the number of residents in your building. The design should promote social interaction and community building with seated areas and landscaping that encourage resident engagement.
    A well-designed amenities package and common areas will enhance the property value and increase resident satisfaction, contributing to long-term financial success. 

Building Codes & Regulations

The next aspect of building an apartment complex involves building codes and regulations. This is a four-step process:

  • Local and national building codes. Building codes are designed to protect your occupants’ health and safety and ensure that your building is environmentally sustainable and energy-efficient.
    Local building codes vary, so it’s important to research and comply with all relevant requirements. The International Building Code (IBC) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes set the minimum building design, construction, and maintenance standards.
  • ADA compliance. Building codes must comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure accessibility for all residents. The ADA is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities and requires that buildings be designed to provide equal access for everyone.
    Not complying with building codes and regulations can land you in legal trouble and compromise the safety of your occupants, so it’s imperative.
  • Fire and life safety requirements. There are minimum fire and life safety standards, including sprinkler systems, smoke alarms, and fire-resistant materials. There must be accessible emergency exits to ensure safe evacuation in an emergency. Regular maintenance, training, and drills are also essential for keeping residents safe.
  • Environmental regulations. Energy consumption, water usage, and waste generation are essential considerations. Local, state, and federal regulations are in place to limit your building’s environmental impact and ensure that it’s constructed in an environmentally-friendly manner.
    Regulations vary but might include energy-efficient HVAC systems, sustainable materials and finishes, and low-impact stormwater management techniques. Complying with environmental regulations protects the environment and enhances your building’s value and reputation. 

Construction Process

Finally, building an apartment complex involves four more steps: pre-construction, foundation and framing, MEP systems, interior finishes, and landscaping. 

  • Pre-construction phase. This is when your project team finalizes the design, budget, and project schedule. If there are potential issues, this is the time to identify and resolve them. 

Developing detailed architectural and engineering plans and selecting contractors and suppliers are also part of the pre-construction phase. So are permits and approvals from local and state regulatory agencies.

  • Foundation and framing. You need a strong, stable foundation to support the building’s weight and occupants. A strong foundation will also protect against shifting soil and seismic events. The building’s framing must be carefully designed and constructed to support the floors, walls, and roof. Pay close attention to the foundation and frame to ensure everything is correctly built and any issues are identified and promptly addressed.
  • MEP systems. An MEP system refers to mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems used in construction and building operations. These systems are essential for functionality and safety.
    Mechanical systems include HVAC, electrical systems that provide power for lighting and other electrical needs, and plumbing systems that provide water and waste disposal services to the building.
  • Interior finishes and landscaping. Interior finishes refer to the materials and finishes used on interior surfaces, like walls, floors, and ceilings. These finishes can range from functional and utilitarian to decorative and luxurious, depending on how you use the space and what your occupants prefer. Landscaping is all about the outdoor spaces surrounding the building. Green spaces, walkways, and outdoor amenities are essential parts of any multifamily building. Residents want to enjoy spending time outdoors, and increased aesthetic appeal will encourage this. 

Each element — from planning and design to building codes and regulations to the construction process — plays a crucial role in the success of your build. 

Contact Superior Commercial Solutions

Whether this is your first time building a multifamily home/apartment complex or you’re a seasoned builder, Superior Commercial Solutions is here to help you through the process. Call us at 385.273.6670, or contact us through the form on our website to get started. Let’s work together to build your multifamily structure.