With the demand for student housing—both on-campus and off-campus—continuing its upswing, developers, property owners and universities are allocating resources toward renovating existing dormitories and apartment complexes in an effort to appeal to the student demographic.
As a result of fierce market competition, housing in college towns nationwide is beginning to take on the aesthetic of five-star retreats, commonly referred to as “executive housing,” equipped with high-end counter tops and cabinetry, as well as modern furniture and fixtures that need to be moved and installed in each unit.
Subsequently, the need for professional moving partners to coordinate these complex and time-sensitive improvement projects is becoming increasingly critical. Whether renovating an existing building, relocating to a new facility or starting from the ground up, developers and property owners seriously need to question how they can find the right vendor for their project. What should they look for in a relocation company? What services are vital to the success of their project? One minor delay, or mistake, can negatively impact both the project’s timeline and budget.
Understanding the value a qualified moving partner can provide, and appreciating the range of services that accompany that expertise is the first step in selecting a company to meet the project’s unique needs.
The tight deadlines and logistical challenges presented in student housing projects makes the scale and scope of every relocation and renovation a significant undertaking. The following list of tips, reminders and considerations outline for developers and property owners certain professional characteristics and capabilities to be aware of when vetting potential relocation partners:
Preparation is key
With any major project, proper preparation will factor into the success of a move. There are many moving parts and pieces—from ordering new furniture, removal of furniture and accessories, to coordinating the delivery and installation of new items—that require close communication and team work between all parties well in advance of the first day on the job site. Therefore, it’s best to begin vetting moving partners about two to four months prior to your targeted start date, allowing for a seamless and customized move plan to be implemented.
When dealing with a large project on a tight deadline, it is important to field a sizeable and experienced crew with capacity to fill multiple shifts. Many universities and college towns will kick off a project once school lets out for the summer with the goal of coming back online within a matter of months. For 500-room complexes, small moving companies may not have the manpower needed to disassemble and remove furniture in an efficient time frame outlined by your general contractor, delaying the project’s timeline and impacting the budget.
On-site project management
Whether moving 100 rooms or 500, the complexities of student housing facilities make coordination between multiple parties essential. The best relocation experts are able to function as project managers, coordinating communications and logistics and acting as a liaison between contractors and the customer. Having your moving vendor provide on-site project management will also ensure that each piece of furniture moved is properly separated, categorized and inventoried, increasing efficiency and guaranteeing all necessary parts are present and accounted for.
Proper research will pay off, especially when dealing with on-campus housing that is often furnished with specialized beds and desks. Make sure to ask vendors about their installation capabilities, such as assembly and disassembly of shelving systems, floor-mounted furniture, fixtures, etc. Not all movers have a trained installation crew, so be sure to ask for references that support their claims, and be sure this service is included in the quoted price.
Although warehousing services are not always utilized in housing projects, as many prefer to have new furniture delivered directly to the job site, some universities and large-scale off-campus complexes may require short-term storage. In the event that storage is needed, find a company with a large enough warehousing footprint close to the job site to cut down on travel costs.
Falling for a moving scam can be extremely costly, so don’t be afraid to ask hard-hitting questions. One question that should always be asked is whether they have performed a similar relocation in terms of size and scope. Before making a final decision, be sure to talk with their references to verify their experience and services. Any credible mover will have a list of previous customers that can provide you more information from their experience.
Occasionally, housing projects take place in the presence of students, either at the end or the beginning of the school year. To ensure on-site safety, be sure your mover has completed their due diligence in assembling their crews. Vendors should run crews through a complete background check, and provide movers with a full uniform and photo identification.
For developers and property owners looking to enhance their properties to increase appeal to students, an understanding of the basic needs and challenges of these specialized housing projects will go a long way toward an educated and informed decision, ensuring they’ve made the right move.
Dan Burke is director of business development for Corrigan Moving Systems, a Michigan-based relocation company. He can be reached at [email protected].