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  • Property-a-holics

    Overcoming the fear as a novice developer

    I'm not exactly a novice but neither am I an experienced developer. I have around 30 years experience as a competent DIYer and lodger landlord and 4 years experience letting my parents property through an agent when I inherited it. I'm not a tradesman, but have always been happy and able to do handyman jobs for others and have received positive comments.

    I've taken the bold, or possibly foolhardy, move of selling my inherited property and all but giving up work to invest in a development and rental property. Some careful research and a big chunk of luck have resulted in a 4 storey mixed use property which I have now started to renovate.

    (As a sidenote, my tenants have been exceptional. I explained my intentions to the residential tenant when viewing in February and again when completing at the end of April, and they vacated at the beginning of June after receiving a S21, but voluntarily paid the rent up to the end of the month. My commercial tenant has been very helpful in setting up a payment contract, which is a new experience for me, and is paying their rent without any problems)

    I have a maisonette, over 2 floors, at around 130 square meters, which I have started work on. Below this is the 70sqm commercial unit and a 40sqm storage unit. Finally below this is a 130 sqm basement. I've started work on the maisonette and thought I may be able to start on the conversion of the storage unit at the same time. I quickly realised that was too ambitious and have put the conversion on hold.

    I wasn't fully prepared for the scale of work that I am undertaking. This is a large building with very generous proportions, ceiling heights are around 3m. Simple things such as getting materials into the building are proving challenging. The nearest kerbside is around 100m from the rear of the property, access to the maisonette is then up a 7m external metal staircase with 3 half landings. There are then a further 3 staircases and a half landing within the maisonette. Its a physical challenge to get the materials to where their needed before any work can be started.

    There have been several moments this month where I have doubted my own abilities and have pushed both my physical and mental boundaries. I am confident and competent with most DIY tasks, such as stud partitioning, flooring, rewiring, replumbing, plastering, kitchen and bathroom fitting, etc. I have never undertaken them all at the same time or on a property of this size. I finally conceded to find a plumber, my least favourite task, to take a little pressure off.

    I've set a target of 1st September, to reconfigure the top floor to include a luxury bathroom, reconfigure and fit a new kitchen on the first floor and create an ensuite lodger room on the lower first floor. I may come close with the assistance of the plumber, who is also starting out as a property developer.

    The greatest challenge so far has been self doubt, from the point of selling my parent's country bungalow, to investing in a large mixed use property in a town I barely know and dropping my employed hours to around 15 a week. There are times when I know I am pushing my luck and my limits, but each time I overcome the fear it boosts my confidence for the next challenge.

    I have conceded one further task as it may be my demise, a suspected blocked box gutter behind a parapet wall at the front of the building. The easiest access is from the rear with 2 roof ladders over the roof, the apex of which is around 15m from the street below. I've found a roofer who has the necessary equipment to do this, but is inevitably very busy. Sometimes its better to accept the fear and opt for self preservation.

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    Hi Gary,

    I tip my hat to you.  As the old but true saying goes "The comfort zone is a lovely place, but nothing ever grows there".  In other words, you have to step outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself, which you are most certainly doing.

    I do think you have the fall-back to employ tradespersons if it all gets a bit much for you.  I think you main challenge is realising what is achievable by yourself or when the time comes to admit that you cannot manage, and bring in some support.  This will obviously depend very much on what you have in your budget to pay tradespersons and what your overall margins are.

    Good luck and do keep the tribe posted as to how it all goes ... 

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    I'm attempting this refurb on a very tight budget, but have a healthy contingency fund should I need it. If I'm successful in keeping within budget, the contingency fund is around the lowest local property price, which will give me 2 unencumbered properties, somewhere to live and 4 rental income streams. I do have a pre-approved £20k unsecured loan for 12 months with my bank should I overspend, but it would be nice not to need it.

    I purchased the property for just over £170k including fees, I'm hoping to refurb the maisonette for £10k and develop the storage unit for £20k, so around £200k in total. Rental income will be around £22/24k pa. 2 local agents (HUTH style) valued the completed project at around £300k. I will update as I progress.

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    I reckon you're doing brilliantly. You have a plan, you've taken the plunge, you know what is entailed, you know when you need help, you're realistic about the whole project. You've assessed the risk vs the reward otherwise you wouldn't be doing it.

    Pay someone else to climb ladders. If you doing something to save a few quid is going to delay the first rental income,  spend the money on a professional to get it finished and on the market quicker. 

    Crack on. Well done.

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    Thanks Bob. One of the limitations I've encountered is my own brain capacity. There is a limit to how much I can plan and keep organised. I've set what I feel is the maximum pace I can cope with, although it will delay rental income for a few months, losing control will probably cost me a lot more.

    I don't mind the ladders internally, their a necessity with 3m ceilings, but I'll leave the external stuff to the professionals.

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    Sounds like you need to invest in an electric hoist take all the work out of getting materials up and down. As your doing work yourself invest in access equipment  and then sell it after.

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    A hoist could have saved a lot of effort Smile

    I've got most of the kitchen, bathroom and plasterboard up already. I hope it will get easier now.

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    Where are the before and after pics Gary?!

    Well done with this. I'm sure you're already doing it but writing everything you need to do and everything you need materials-wise on a piece of paper and try and get some job order. I wouldn't worry too much about the timescale as you will be doing this as quick as you realistically can, and other trades will add delays in which you won't be able to control.

    Anything that can make your life easier as suggested by WW above is well worth considering. There's bits of helpful gear out there you may not even know exist!

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    I'll have to educate myself on some photo editing software, not an area I'm familiar with. I have a few snapshots but they're too large for PT.

    The plumbing is being done for the whole maisonette, electrics are being planned floor by floor and after that I have outline plans for each room. It seems to be working ok so far.

    I used to drive a reach truck in a previous life, it would have been a useful tool but access is very limited. So far its been old school muscle power and levers but I've got the majority of the heavy stuff up.

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    Gary,

    You have put a lot of effort into this, you have taken a bold step but i am certain you will do really well with it, the bonus of having a commercial tenant on the GF is a great start.

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    Phil Stewardson.

    Stewardson Properties.

    Stewardson Developments Ltd.

    Burson Land Ltd. & Jennings & Gilchreaste Ltd.

    http://www.stewardson.co.uk

    Follow me on twitter - @philstewardson

    Thanks Phil.

    My commercial tenant is Greggs Bakery and they have made the commercial element stress free, even telling the delivery drivers how to find the access to the flat at the rear.

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