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Civil Engineering for Affordable Housing

08 Oct 2020, Posted in Innovation

Civil Engineering for Affordable Housing


Affordable housing projects’ effect on the community goes beyond assisting those in need; these projects also have significant economic impacts including but not limited to an increase in job creation and new tax revenues. Since 2011 our civil engineering team has provided design services for over 40 affordable housing projects spanning multiple states and jurisdictions throughout the country.

Since these projects are tied to local and public funding, housing facilities hold unique requirements, budgets, and interests. From a civil engineering perspective, the design and construction processes differ from office, industrial, or even other residential projects.

Providence at the Heights – Aurora, CO

Tiny Tim – Santa Ana, CA

The unique needs of affordable housing projects have transformed civil engineering practices, resulting in a more focused design that integrates the needs of the jurisdiction, the budget for the project, and the available area to work in. The following are a few of innovations in the civil engineering process:

Stormwater Innovation 

  • Integration of rain gardens and water quality swales in the site landscape – By providing a sustainable approach to the stormwater that is integrated into parks, gardens, and playgrounds more opportunities to provide efficient areas to utilize for the residents are created.  In some areas, we’ve provided learning activities for families to see how stormwater treatment works.  In other solutions, the stormwater treatment is completely integrated into the surrounding landscape, making many unaware that the playground they are enjoying also provides a benefit to the downstream system by filtering the stormwater below their feet.
  • Installation of pervious pavers within parking lots – These pavers reduce the amount of storm water runoff entering downstream waterways and provide infiltration of the rainwater into the ground to recharge groundwater all while utilizing parking areas that are required for site plan approval and leasing requirements.
  • Using rooftop detention, cisterns, and roof drain filters for the proposed development – Installation of these devices helps to detain and treat stormwater quality with minimal open space, providing more buildable area to allow for additional housing units, parking areas, or open space. Integration of underground detention/infiltration systems provide for detention and water quality in some cases, allowing for larger floor area ratios, more units, and more leasable area.

Budget & Schedule

  • Financing is often based on specific approval timing benchmarks. We understand that often the amount of funding required needs to be defined prior to the competition of design.  The initial plans that we prepare are critical to define the unknown site costs and need to be realistic evaluations of the proposed development requirements.
  • In many ways we work to meet deadlines while offering problem-solving solutions. The project approval is paramount and the dynamic nature of the design brings changes and challenges in real time during the design and approval process.  We keep the project on track by quickly solving these project demands.  Some other areas where we help the speed to permit include:
    • Obtaining permit-ready letters as required for financing to closing.
    • Breaking out foundation/demolition/grading permits to help construction sequencing to meet tight construction timelines.

Collaborative Solutions

  • Our team molds the civil engineering design to fit specific criteria for amenities and ADA accessibility when multiple ownership/financing parties are involved in site planning decisions.
  • Bringing in water use modeling consultants for Water Tap Sizing Negotiation and discounts with jurisdictions.
Wintergreen Affordable Housing – Keystone, CO

Affordable housing projects aim to maximize the community impact with a minimal budget. Value engineering our design assists in making sure to utilize the most cost-effective methods. Our civil engineering team is client-focused on creating the best outcome while understanding the importance of the financial timeline. We are also highly knowledgeable of the local jurisdictions and the entitlement process to ensure all pieces are accounted for as we move forward with design review. By understanding the importance of site planning and collaboration with all parties, our team incorporates civil engineering design to achieve the project’s ultimate goal.

Our team of civil engineering experts can assist in providing innovative solutions for your affordable housing development and a vast array of commercial and residential land development project types. Contact us and let us know how we can help!


Chris Strawn

Principal, Civil Engineering

cstrawn@waremalcomb.com

Ted Swan

Director, Civil Engineering

tswan@waremalcomb.com

Luke Corsbie

Director, Civil Engineering

lcorsbie@waremalcomb.com