Large-Scale Apartment Renovations: Five Tips to Create a Positive Resident Experience

by Taylor Williams

By Ron Fanish, co-owner, Rainbow International Restoration of Westchester

Operating an apartment complex is no easy task. Property managers must juggle a long list of duties, from serving current residents and recruiting new tenants to maintaining buildings.

Among the most challenging of these tasks is implementing large-scale apartment renovations. These undertakings comprise many complicated moving parts — managing contractors, overseeing budgets and ensuring the project does not significantly disrupt residents’ quality of life.

Ron Fanish, Rainbow International Restoration of Westchester

This last element is especially important. Apartment renovations have the potential to be majorly disruptive by generating noise, clutter and limited access to utilities. In some cases, residents may even be temporarily displaced from their homes. For this reason, it’s essential for property managers to prioritize positive resident experiences during the renovation process. Here are five strategies for doing precisely this.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Since large-scale apartment renovations can have such significant impacts on residents’ day-to-day lives, there’s no such thing as over-communication. Start by giving advance notice about the project as soon as possible and providing thorough details on duration, potential noise and other disturbances. Also, operators must ensure that they’re communicating across multiple channels so residents don’t miss any updates. Use email, paper bulletins, text messages and other mediums as necessary.

Explain why renovations are essential. To build trust and buy-in with residents, it’s critical for property managers to make compelling cases for why renovations are necessary. What are the residents getting out of the inconvenience? Explain how the renovations will ultimately improve residents’ long-term experience at the property. For example, renovations may deliver a more modern look and feel, lower energy costs or long-overdue repairs. Paint a vivid picture of how residents’ quality of life will be elevated once the renovations are complete. Once residents are equipped with this information, they can more easily tolerate any disturbances caused by the renovations.

Mitigate inconveniences. Large-scale renovations will almost always create inconveniences for residents: loud noise from construction equipment, temporary internet outages, closed entrances and exits. Property managers must acknowledge and mitigate these inconveniences to the best of their ability. For example, with tenants who work from home and view noise as a major disruption to their routine and livelihood, property managers can consider subsidizing a coworking space. Or if the building’s internet will be temporarily offline, managers can provide Wi-Fi hotspots.

Maintain – or exceed – maintenance standards. Yes, property managers are busy during renovation projects of all sizes — but that’s no excuse to deprioritize regular maintenance. Residents shouldn’t have to deal with slower response times. In fact, property managers and their teams should strive to exceed maintenance expectations during this period, since residents are already tolerating disruption. Whether it’s a leaky faucet or a blown fuse, residents still deserve world-class service amid renovations.

Survey residents on their experience. When the last nail is hammered, that doesn’t mean the renovation is complete. Property managers should speak with residents and collect data about their experiences. What worked well and what did not? Residents will appreciate you asking for their opinions and feedback, and property managers will uncover key learnings for future renovation projects.

While large-scale apartment renovations are always stressful, they don’t have to be overwhelming or exceedingly unpleasant for residents. It’s a property manager’s job to foresee what disruptions may occur and then confront them head-on.

Ron Fanish is co-owner of Rainbow International Restoration, a full-service, one-stop-shop for restoration, cleaning and reconstruction based in Westchester County, New York.

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