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  • Sarah May

From Concept to Completion: A Behind the Scenes Look at an Apartment Makeover

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes during an apartment renovation project? Here's the basic process for bringing a recent design concept from paper to completion.

While some renovations can be as simple as telling contractors what's needed, approving the bid and checking out the final product, sometimes a more hands-on approach is required!

This project we're going to dive into was a recent exterior makeover for our 128 unit property Tree Top Apartments in Grand Prairie, TX.

Develop Conceptual Design

Step 1 for any large project is to come up with the design and scope of work. Sometimes our GP team does this ourselves, but in this case we hired a design company to come up with a modern exterior concept that we felt was achievable and wouldn't break the bank. The main elements of the design include painting over the old yellow brick, updating the color scheme, and adding wood accent "cladding" to each of the buildings.

With digital design files in hand, our team was getting even more excited to update our 1970's-built property and bring the new design to life!

Test Paint

Often overlooked, the "test paint" is critical, and you want to try out the colors FIRST before approving any bids. With exterior paint, it's tricky to get the colors right because the sun often brings out hidden paint undertones and can make paint look lighter or darker than you thought. For this project, after the test paint, we decided to lighten up the colors a bit.

Look for Savings Opportunities

On the site visit to check out the test paint, we learned that the property had just been painted 2 years before in a medium gray paint. Our new paint concept actually could incorporate this medium gray, so we were able to save a considerable amount of money ($100k!) on paint by just keeping the medium gray as-is rather than painting over it!

Test Paint at Tree Top Apartments

Find Materials

This project called for unique wood "cladding" for the modern wood-look accent in our design concept. Finding this wood cladding was easier said than done, and our contractors originally couldn't find any good options. The solution? Online suppliers! After a few comprehensive Google searches, we found ONE vendor that had the product we wanted at a price that was in our budget.

Wood Cladding Test

Negotiation, Pricing & Ordering

After a bit of price negotiation on the wood cladding, we then had to figure out shipping logistics. Typical manufacturing of the wood would normally be 6-8 weeks, but we were able to get this expedited to 3-4 weeks due to the large size of our order, followed by a week in transit from Atlanta, GA to Dallas, TX. Thankfully, this manufacturing timeline coincided with the time we needed to finish up the exterior painting anyway; this meant that right after the exterior paint was completed, we'd get the cladding delivered and could start installing it right away.

Shipping Logistics

Now it was time to wait for delivery... and after 4 weeks, the cladding got loaded onto a semi truck and started its journey to Tree Top Apartments. Unfortunately, the delivery company didn't realize we didn't have a loading dock for them to unload the material... and the standard "lift gate" (the motorized platform at the end of the truck to load and unload material up and down) on the semi wouldn't work either because the wood boards were too long!

Undeterred, we asked what we'd need in order to make it work, and we discovered we just needed to have a fork lift with extra long forks onsite at the time of delivery.


Well, a few phone calls later to our contractor, and they lined up a fork lift and storage for the 2,000+ pounds of wood cladding that was soon to get dropped off at Tree Top Apartments. And after all that, it all went to plan, and the cladding got delivered! Installation only took a couple weeks, and now Tree Top has a fresh, modern new look!

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