Design-Build Makes the Difference: Jules on 3rd Delivers $1M in Cost Savings, 6 Weeks Early


The Project: Jules on 3rd

Jules on 3rd is an eight-story, 285,000-square-foot apartment building in downtown Boise, Idaho, with 173 units and a covered parking garage. The ground floor has 3,000 square feet of retail space, including outdoor seating.

The developer originally engaged in a design-bid-build approach. When the project was over budget with no guarantee of price, the developer asked Opus to take over the project architecture, design-build construction and interior design. 

The Challenges

With the project significantly over budget as they took over, Opus needed to find ways to rein in and reduce costs. Boise was also experiencing a construction boom, and it was difficult to find subcontractors.

A phased delivery expectation also complicated the project. The county owns the parking garage. They wanted to start using it six months before the apartments would be complete. This required making it safe and accessible for users.

Finally, with construction happening during the COVID-19 pandemic, Opus implemented strict safety protocols. While these minimized health risks for workers, they also slowed the construction process.

The Solutions

Opus' architects and designers​ refined the original design with the following solutions:

  • optimized the structural concrete frame by right-sizing the footings and eliminating unnecessary concrete beams and rebar mats
  • simplified wall construction and enhanced the apartments' design by moving mechanical and electrical services so they weren't exposed
  • designed electrical panels to meet the needs of each apartment unit instead of a one-size-fits-all approach
  • enhanced the design throughout the building with cost-efficient lights and electrical systems
  • reduced costs by using pre-manufactured balconies instead of component-building the balconies onsite
Facing labor shortages and being new to the Boise market, Opus searched for quality subcontractors.

“We partnered with Boise-based design partners to find local subcontractors knowledgeable in multifamily construction," said George Parrino, Senior Project Manager. “With our experience in multifamily, we knew the right questions to ensure they could perform. We also leveraged existing relationships nationwide to bring in out-of-town subcontractors."

To deliver the parking ramp on time, Opus worked with the city to create an occupancy plan that detailed construction staging, safety and access to ensure safety for parking garage users during construction.

The Opus operations team developed guidance for potential COVID exposure scenarios. Opus managed crews that had to quarantine due to exposure and dealt with material shortages and delays. Maintaining open communication with the client and presenting options to reduce delays and risks was key to success.

The Results

Opus significantly reduced costs and delivered a best-in-market apartment building six weeks early. And lease-up of the building has progressed quicker than anticipated.

“We worked with the original design concept but incorporated refinements that added value, saved the developer over $1 million and reduced the construction timeline," said Jeff Smith, Vice President of Construction.

“Our design-build process is built around helping our clients make informed decisions," Jeff said. “Whatever the client's goals are – be it a fast schedule, low price, high-end design, super-efficient MEP systems, or something else – our process is built to deliver on those goals."

“The Opus team and approach took our vision and made it a reality," said Kevin McGraw, President of River Caddis Development, developer and owner of Jules on 3rd. “Their experience, sophistication and collaborative efforts created the efficiency and innovation required to pull this off and it was an absolute pleasure working with their team in all stages of the delivery process."