Wilson Blake: Why Cabinet and Countertop Partners are Critical in Timely Student Housing Delivery

Wilson Blake, CEO of Blake Solutions Wilson Blake, CEO of Blake Solutions

Is there anything more important than opening on time? In the student housing industry, timing is everything. Developers can’t extend deadlines or move out completion dates, period. The partners you choose for your cabinet and countertop scope are crucial allies in on-time delivery. Working with an experienced partner who understands the student housing business will save you worry, headaches and potential late delivery.

Aside from picking the right site, the right deal and other preconstruction functions, most developers agree that once the decision is made to start a project, finishing on time is most important.

There are dozens of things that can happen to delay a project between start and finish. Often site work, weather delays, structural, framing, multi-phase extraction (MPE) systems, drywall, painting and other activities delay the start of installation of cabinets and countertops, which occur close to the end of construction. 

What happens when delays occur? It all runs downhill and piles up on the final trades. Many projects have 30 or more cabinet boxes per unit. In a 200-unit project, that’s 6,000 boxes to hang, plumb, level and adjust. It takes time. Proper management of labor, material, schedule and interface with preceding and subsequent activities is paramount. It’s important to plan ahead and acknowledge, rather than denying, that a project is behind schedule well before the scheduled commencement of cabinet and countertop installation. 

Why do so many developers and general contractors wait until close to the originally scheduled start date for installation before communicating to the cabinet and countertop (C&C) subcontractor that they are not ready, that there is no drywall hung or painting has not started? Notifying the C&C subcontractors that their start will be delayed and thus, their timetable compressed, enables them to work with the entire team to reach a viable completion solution.

The more notice given, the better and more cost effective the solution. Skilled construction labor availability is at historic lows. C&C subcontractors can’t just ring the fire bell and have installers slide down the pole, board the trucks, turn on the sirens and race to the site.

It is important to understand that when the duration of finish trades are compressed by weather or delays of precedent trades, ramping up the workforce doesn’t yield a 1+1=2 result. Two crews on the same project cannot install twice as much as a single crew. Logistics, distractions, the lack of readiness of units for installation all contribute. Two crews may install one and a half times the units of one crew in the same period. Three crews may install two times that of one crew, but at what cost? You guessed it: three times.

If the developer or general contractor has selected the C&C subcontractor with the low price for the project, that subcontractor is likely local to the project and has many repeat, competing customers within their market. Subs like this are unlikely to leave their regular, repeat customers high and dry while they devote additional resources to the student housing project with developer X, as this will likely be the only project they ever complete for them.

The better solution is to have a C&C subcontractor partner that travels with the developer from state to state year after year. This partner will be highly motivated to help the developer succeed, even when a project is delayed; thus, compressing the schedule. Your partner will be there for you not only to save the day on the delayed project, but to service you and earn future business. Qualified, committed  partner subcontractors help ensure that cabinet and countertop installation is done on time and properly. At the end of the project, that’s what matters.

As a founding partner and CEO, Wilson Blake leads the Blake Solutions™ (BSI) team in all facets of the business, including relationship management, project management, procurement, logistics and field operations. Blake Solutions™ understands the schedule and maintenance challenges of student housing like no other cabinet and countertop supplier, having provided products on and off campus to universities from coast to coast ranging from Washington State to Florida State and everywhere in between. 

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