When you’re trying to get into real estate and climb your way to the top[ of the property millionaire pile, most people think inside the box, going down the buying and selling route in some form or another. It could be flipping houses, getting in an up and coming area early or starting to make your name as a landlord with a portfolio of properties.
But what if there was a more satisfying, holistic and financially sensible way to make this your new calling in life? Yeah. We’re talking about becoming a developer with a keen eye for self-builds. We know it sounds stressful, tough, hard work and laden with pitfalls, but with the right help this can become the bigger money-spinner you were hoping for.
So, without further ado, here is some advice from industry experts that have achieved their own – or helped others achieve – real self-build success:
- Architects Know How To Snuff Out A Good Plot
One of the best things you can do is get an architect on your side early doors – before you’ve even picked out a plot of land to build on. Now we know this sounds awfully expensive, but architects that are really keen to work with you will go on a site visit with you and only charge a basic hourly rate, meaning and a couple of hours is all it takes to help you land the perfect site, instead of investing in the wrong one. Think about it for a moment: architects are educated in spying good opportunities and spotting problems most people might miss. Of course, it’s not just architects you want to get on board early – it’s your entire design team. So pick an architect you trust, choose Cochran to survey the land and make sure it is good to build on and bring on a contractor that will work well with this team. Trust us: a coherent and content project team will create the best project possible.
- Know The Expiry Date Of Any Planning Permissions
Of all the niggling little details, you need to make sure you are aware of how long is left on any planning consent because most sellers take their time selling a plot, meaning it’s months after the original permission was granted. As such, you might find there is only a matter of months left, which is never enough time. Planning authorities can take up to up to three months considering applications, investigations could be required before the work can begin and other bureaucracy could enter the fold and eat away your time. The point is: make sure you know how long is left on any planning permissions and only make a purchase subject to the granting or extension of said permissions.
- Think About Landscaping Sooner Rather Than
When you just have an empty plot, access is not an issue. But the moment you start digging your foundations, laying your substructure and watch as your building comes to life, that access becomes infinitely more limited, and that is where costs can really start to rack up. That’s why you will want to work out how much topsoil is needed for your outdoor spaces before you start building and then have delivered. It will drastically reduce your landscaping costs and make the process so much more efficient. If you don’t, and you have too much or not enough topsoil delivered – or none at all – you will then have to battle with poor access to add or remove this and that’s when costs really start adding up.
- Futureproof Your Real Estate
You never know what the future holds or what the potential buyers of your property may want to do with the building – what tweaks, changes, extensions or conversions they might want to make. So it’s a good idea to make sure you think about this up front and make it an easy sell when that time comes. We’re talking about little things, such as insulating the garage floor concrete in the same way you would insulate a house, an example of foresight that won’t cost much to do but could allow this space to be converted in the future without a huge digging and relaying operation to unfold. It is things like this potential buyers will nod their head to.
- Make Deadlines As Realistic As Possible
We get it – being in your new build property by Christmas would be incredible. But it might not be realistic, something so many self-build hopefuls are guilty of these days. Ask anyone in the construction game and they will happily tell you it’s never ever a good idea to be unrealistic with your deadlines because this will simply heap on unnecessary stress and, trust us, building a property from the ground up is already as stressful and demanding as any project can be. Building a property, big or small, is a journey that’s full of unexpected twists and turns, hiccups and hurdles, ups and downs. Your focus should be on preparing for these and riding them out as smoothly and cost-effectively as possible.
- Let Your Neighbours Know What You Are Up To
This is a little tip that could stop years of migraines and problems from wrecking your hopes of a smooth integration into the neighborhood. So, to get straight to it, you really want to engage with your new neighbors as soon as you can. If you don’t, and you fall prey to bad relations on this front, you might find the project becomes a whole lot harder to manage. Planning permissions could become harder to get your hands on, while the physical building of your property and any hopes for the future you might have could be jeopardized. Instead, engage with your neighbors, get on good terms, buy them a hamper for being so patient with your project and watch as they become more supportive of your plans. Just don’t ask for their opinions on anything. If they feel strongly about something, they’ll let you know.
- Lots Of Little Stages Is The Way To Look At It
The best way to make a big construction project more manageable is to break each stage down into individual components. Then, as you start rolling, start checking off each task you complete, preferably on a simple spreadsheet, and then give each updated copy to everyone on your building team. Not only will this help them see just how much progress they are making, they will be able to better plan ahead and that can only be a good thing. It’s about defining each part of your project and having everyone focus on these parts so that they are done to the highest standard before they move onto the next stage. If you want help breaking it down, go with things like site prep; substructures; building facade; making everything watertight; first-fixing stage; plumbing and electricals; second fixing stage; finishing touches, and snag list.
- Make Sure Your Budget Is Clearly Understood
There is absolutely no point in beating around the bush on this one: you should never, ever, ever, ever start a building project until you have a truly solid understanding of the costs, your budget, and a contingency plan. This is because you’re throwing yourself into a long-term project where so many variables can have an influence, which means costs can very easily shoot through the roof and that will leave you in a whole lot of trouble you don’t want to be in.
- Get The Experts In As Early As You Can
The thing with construction and design and all that stuff is there are loads of planning laws, building requirements, and local policies – especially with new builds – that are all extremely complex to understand, and yet you need to know all about them so that you can better navigate your way through the system as smoothly as possible. That means getting the design right and getting the planning system to okay it, which is is no easy feat. So, instead of joining the ranks of most novice self-builders and falling short at this hurdle, make yourself better equipped to tackle this by recruiting expert help. Who you choose is up to you, but our advice would be choosing only those that are highly experienced, have a proven track record, a portfolio you can visit in person and, most importantly, those that hand you trusted references.
- Get Your Team The Materials They Need
The last thing you want is for you to be paying a team of skilled workers for their time when they can’t crack on with anything because they haven’t got the right materials. It’s a much better idea to make your construction site run super-smoothly for each of your tradespeople by giving them easy access around the site and having all the materials they need ready when they need them. It won’t just boost their productivity levels no end, it will see them become more committed and motivated too. They want to do their job, so let them.