Case Studies

Bilt – Rite Construction Inc.

Residential and commercial construction services in Boston

Chris and John Sullivan have been in the construction business for more than three decades. While working as foremen in the Boston construction market, Chris and John attended night school for business. They established their own company, Bilt-Rite Construction Inc. in 1982. After more than 30 years in business, the company has grown into a midsized commercial contractor serving public and private clients in the Greater Boston area.

The brothers now share management responsibilities. Chris is the company’s president and John is CEO of Bilt-Rite. The owners employ a strong team of professionals who have been with the company for many years, serving private companies, government departments and nonprofits. A significant component of the team’s portfolio consists of community development work, including public multifamily housing. Other work includes municipal buildings, historic renovations and multiunit renovations.

The Bilt-Rite team works to build strong relationships with its customers and large base of subcontractors and suppliers to ensure a quality finished product, completed on time. The business has completed many projects for repeat customers and has worked with several of the same subcontractors for many years.

Bilt-Rite has a strong track record in exceeding the Minority Women Business Enterprises (MWBE) goals and hiring goals for its projects, which is an important aspect of the success of any housing work in the Boston area. Bilt-Rite has established strong business relationships with many of the local- and minority-owned businesses that work on the company’s projects daily.

Bilt-Rite ConstructionRecent work

In 2014 Bilt-Rite completed the Quincy Heights Development, which involved the complete gut renovation and reconfiguration of 102 existing apartments in 10 buildings into 80 units. As part of this project, Bilt-Rite constructed seven additional wood frame buildings on nearby sites to create 49 additional apartments. This project was done in phases to help minimize the amount of resident relocation required and proved difficult because every building had to be completely abated of asbestos before any other construction could begin.

Existing structures had to be vacated, abated and razed to make way for the new construction. All of the buildings now contain green and sustainable design features such as solar panels and solar thermal hot water systems, reducing energy consumption. This project is one of the first to be completed under a new HUD Choice Neighborhoods funding program.

In 2013, Bilt-Rite wrapped up construction on Bloomfield Gardens, a four-story residential building with 27 family units. This was a new construction project, constructed in Dorchester, Massachusetts. The project is LEED-Silver certifiable and incorporates a white TPO roof, fuel-efficient vehicle parking, drought-tolerant landscaping and indoor secure bicycle storage.

The Bilt-Rite team faced a range of challenges on-site. The crew was tasked with the removal of old granite foundation walls around the perimeter and hazardous soil conditions that required additional excavation and backfill.

“The objective was to build a highly efficient, low maintenance building that enhances the neighborhood on a very tight budget,” John explains. “The entire project is built for the long term, as evidenced by the durability of the products and its energy efficient design, of paramount importance in any project built today. The interior is inviting with excellent circulation and the building is equipped with many safety features, including an emergency generator.”

Another unique project the Bilt-Rite team has been working on is 23-25 Alaska Street in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The contractor worked with owner Caritas Communities Inc. to provide a comprehensive renovation for the old building, making way for 17 affordable single-occupant rooms and several common spaces.

Bilt-Rite has worked with Caritas Communities for more than a decade and the nonprofit has come to rely on John, Chris and the team for efficiency, safety and the ability to balance modern amenities with the classic character of older buildings. As is habit for the contractor, Bilt-Rite delivered the project on time and under budget.

Looking ahead

Bilt-Rite has a reputation in Eastern Massachusetts for quality construction and leading service. This reputation has carried the business through hard times, such as the recent economic downturn. When both public and private money began to dry up, the business had to make some adjustments, but was able to retain its core team. By maintaining tight margins and nurturing relationships with existing clients and strategic partners, Bilt-Rite pulled through.

Now, John says his crew is in a period of steady growth. “Given our backlog, 2015 is going to be a good year for us,” he explains. “We have a lot of repeat and referral business, so we are playing some catch up. Some projects were stalled by the economy for several years and now they are moving forward at the same time so contractors and qualified subcontractors are especially busy. Now, the challenge has changed. As we pick up more work, we are working on reestablishing manpower, seeking out new employees and building new relationships with subcontractors.”

As the team builds these relationships, John and Chris are maintaining the back end of the operation, allocating resources to more profitable sectors. John sees a continued trend of growth in larger, more complex projects. There is currently a strong emphasis on building workforce housing in Boston, which will become an important part of Bilt-Rite’s future scope.

Current projects include a number of ongoing residential projects in the community. Bilt-Rite is working on Roxbury Crossing Senior Building, a new 40-unit senior housing facility.

The company’s St. Kevin’s Project consists of the complete redevelopment of a school campus into 80 units of housing. This project involves the conversion of an existing school into 21 residential units and the construction of 59 new units.

The contractor is also renovating and reconfiguring existing single-room-occupancy housing in two walk-up brownstone buildings on Cortes Street. The crew is also constructing a new six-story steel frame condominium project that will create 30 new units.

“Over the coming years, I think we will continue to do a lot of work in multiunit renovation and new construction of residential units,” John notes. “Our municipal work and restoration projects will make up a smaller portion of the business, but we are moving with the market.”

All the while, his team will continue to strive for quality and efficiency, as Bilt-Rite Construction Inc. remains a leading contractor in Boston’s community development sector.

Published on: July 9, 2015

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