Multifamily developers need to think about tech before moving dirt

by | Mar 22, 2023

A group of people discuss the potential of multifamily development at a conference table.
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(A version of this story was originally published on, written by Kelsi Maree Borland)

By connecting with an internet expert during pre-construction, multifamily developers have better control over the cost, timing and build-out.

For years, contractors have promoted a design-build approach to residential development. This model encourages developers to gather all stakeholders around the table—the architect, designer, development professionals, and the construction team—as early as possible to foster collaboration and proactive planning. Now, there is a new face at the table: the tech team.

Robust technology infrastructure is a standard in ground-up multifamily construction, and fiber internet is the backbone of a tech build-out. With supply chain challenges and increasing materials costs, providers are joining the design-build movement. Cayce Renshall, connected community sales manager in the west region at Quantum Fiber, recommends multifamily developers start planning “ahead of when the project begins to move dirt.”

The Benefits of Early Engagement

Cayce Renshall of Quantum Fiber discusses the importance of multifamily development.

It is never too early to start engaging with an internet provider, according to Renshall. Once a developer has site and civil engineering plans, they can begin working on a fiber installation proposal. “From that scope of work, developers are able to budget and include various adaptations for our infrastructure,” she says.

That budgeting flexibility is the biggest benefit of early engagement. Cost-conscious developers are already working in advance on a myriad of components for new construction as a way to lock in materials pricing, create workable timelines and secure labor. These have a net positive impact on budgets and reduce overages, a major driver of cost runup in new construction.

When developers engage internet providers early, they have increased time to plan and customize a build-out, shop for materials and services, and adjust for optimal contract terms. These contractual solutions add cash to cost-prohibitive projects and enhance NOI projections.  For instance, having a door fee or securing long-term fixed discounted internet rates with a bulk agreement.

Large institutional builders are already working ahead to capture these benefits, but small-and mid-sized developers would benefit from the same advantages, and often developers in this market segment are more exposed to rising construction costs.

Tailoring Technology Needs

Technology advancement has made fast and quality internet and future-ready infrastructure a necessity—but for many developers, this is still a new process. Early engagement is an opportunity to build a long-term partnership with a provider, and tailor an internet plan to the property for immediate and future planning.

Every property is different. Renshall worked on a senior living community in Las Vegas that she described as “top of the line.” They offer a full range of amenities to provide a high-end luxury experience, including a full technology package. Whereas other apartment developers may not be designing to support smart communities or find ways to extend WiFi throughout their property. “By conversing and working through these preferences early, it allows us to optimize and tailor our plans to suit our clients,” Renshall explains.

Quantum Fiber Connected Communities provides customized fiber solutions for apartments and communities.

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