Fortress® Railing Case Study
Location: Oklahoma City, OK
When Tom Wyche performs apartment maintenance and rehab for his multifamily clients, he wants to make it last. And after 25 years in business, he knows which materials stand the test of time.
As owner of Oklahoma City-based General Property Construction, which renovates approximately 500 units per year, he recommends composite decking and treads on balconies and stairways for his apartment owner clients. He also encourages them to use powder-coated steel framing under their balconies and for stair stringers. Finally, he points them toward powder-coated steel handrails and railings that screw together, instead of wrought-iron railings that need to be welded and rust more quickly.
“Using the right materials extends your maintenance cycle by at least five years,” Wyche says. He estimates that composite decking and powder-coated components can extend the regular maintenance cycle for those items from seven to 10 years to 12 to 15.
That’s especially important given the context of ballooning repair and maintenance costs today. According to the 2019 National Apartment Association’s Survey of Operating Income & Expenses in Rental Apartment Communities, operating expenses swelled by 9.8%, the highest year-over-year increase during the current apartment cycle. Repair and maintenance accounts for 9% of net operating expenses for garden apartments and 6% for mid- and high-rise buildings.
By using composite and powder-coated products, Wyche hopes he can offset those increasing expenses for his clients by extending how long his work lasts.
“I’m probably going to be cutting into my own business seven to 10 years from now, because I won’t need to replace the stairways and balconies I just installed,” Wyche says. “But it’s worth it for my clients.
Wood rots. The old metal stairs with concrete steps and wrought-iron railings don’t last—it’s just not money well spent.”
Wyche specifies Texas-based Fortress Building Products’ Evolution steel framing for balconies and stairways; its Fortress® Infinity® I-Series decking for balcony floors and stair treads; and Fortress Railing Products for railings and handrails. The company’s Simple 1.2.3. installation system, which fastens together with brackets and screws, allows his clients’ maintenance teams to address any interim repairs on their own.
“You don’t need a cutting torch and a welding machine to fix these railings, so you don’t need to call somebody else in,” Wyche says. “Your maintenance staff can do it themselves.”
By using composite and powder-coated materials upfront, Wyche makes sure his clients get lasting dividends when it comes to apartment maintenance for years down the road.