You are ready to build your affordable-housing development! This is the most labour- and cost-intensive part of the project – but all the preparatory work of the first three phases helps construction and management go smoothly.
Before you start construction, do a last check to ensure that all the permits and financing are in place, including construction insurance.
Construction can involve some surprises, such as soil contaminants or breakdowns of machinery. Be sure to monitor construction and have a system in place for approving any changes to the plans, schedule, or design. Even if there are no changes, it’s important to have a system for making rapid advances and payments, so that you do not have to wait for materials, equipment, or services.
Market your units
Create a plan to attract tenants, taking into account the local market and competition. This can include marketing through regular channels such as advertising online or through papers. You might also consider getting in touch with referral agencies, working through the municipality to reach out to people on waiting lists for housing, or following up on outreach efforts from your community engagement.
Writing and publishing a resident-selection policy can help to attract residents in your target market. Be mindful that the selection should reflect any commitments you have made to stakeholders, investors, and the municipality (such as providing housing to families below a certain income) but cannot violate human-rights considerations (such as discriminating on the basis of race).
Prepare for management
Some of the most common management tools are controls on spending (such as limits on the amount that an officer can spend without higher approval), a risk-management strategy, and maintenance and service standards for the property.
You will also need policies that apply to residents, on topics such as late payment or non-payment of rent, use of common areas, or emergency preparation. You can also identify ways to encourage residents to get involved in the property’s upkeep, maintenance, services, or outreach to neighbours.
If you are hiring your own staff, build a strong team by developing job descriptions, an accountability structure, and personnel policies.
You might instead hire a property-management company, or share employees with another organization, such as a service provider associated with the property. In both cases, ensure that the terms of their engagement are clearly defined in a written agreement.
Prepare to welcome residents
For your residents, the fewer surprises, the better the moving experience. That means communicating with prospective residents about the property and its policies, services, and community. Your community engagement in Phase 2 is a starting point, and it can continue throughout construction, as you receive inquiries from people interested in moving in – or in referring someone else.
Make the transition to a new home smoother by preparing an information kit about the building and neighbourhood, or setting up a phone line or website. Staggering move-ins over time can also help your staff give residents the attention and information they need.
To help build a community, make residents feel welcome by planning ways to introduce them to one another, or holding an official opening celebration. This can also be an opportunity to showcase the work of your company and the dedication of any donors, service providers, or community groups that have made your development a part of the neighbourhood.
Turn over the building
If you’re working on a turnkey development, then your last task is to ensure that the property is ready for the new owner, its services, and its residents. This can involve tasks in several areas:
- Make sure all the necessary paperwork – including utility and service contracts, property insurance, leases, and building records – is completed, approved, and stored appropriately.
- Complete deficiency inspections for all units and the building as a whole.
- Have the systems in place for the building to operate smoothly – for example, by holding orientation sessions for the new property manager and staff, and establishing maintenance schedules.