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Property Development: Technical Aspects

This month, Ritchie Clapson, co-founder of PropertyCEO, explains precisely how to go about the process, and this month he looks at the technical side of development

The impressive returns and significant scope presented by the government’s recent changes to Permitted Development Rights have generated unprecedented interest and a wealth of opportunity. But how can those new to development enter the fray and make serious money without making serious mistakes?

One of the key benefits of being a property developer is the leverage you get from your team of professionals. You’ll have a significant number of highly trained and experienced people working on your project and ultimately answerable to you. While this means that no one will be looking to you personally for structural engineering advice or planning guidance, it pays dividends to have a broad understanding of the end-to-end development process. This can be particularly true during the construction phase, when you’ll be leaving much of the heavy lifting to your project manager. However, it pays to be in the loop and up to speed not only on what is happening on-site but also what should be happening.  

Before we look at some of the technical aspects of development, it’s important to remember that, as a developer, you need to be playing the role of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) rather than a hands-on project manager. As a result, you’re not trying to master every detail. Instead, you need a high-level overview of some things and a more in-depth understanding of others. A good analogy is that of the cabinet minister who has been re-shuffled to a new department. They will inherit a team of civil servants who collectively understand every detail within the department’s brief. The minister in question won’t know a great deal about their new portfolio on Day 1, but over time they will build up a high-level knowledge of what they need to know to do their job. And they’ll have their experienced team beneath them who understand the detail and who can be called on as necessary to advise. The minister is effectively the CEO of their department, and you’ll be playing a similar role for your own development business.

As a developer, you’re going to be meeting quite a few people who will be critical to your project. You’ll be working alongside maybe two dozen or so professional disciplines, ranging from the more senior team members such as your architect, structural, engineer, project manager, and contractor, right through to more specialist roles such as asbestos consultant, warranty assessor, and health and safety consultant. Forge good relationships with each of them and make a point of understanding their brief for
your project. As a minimum, you should know what their deliverables and responsibilities are.

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