We have dealt with a lot of developers at all ends of the experience spectrum. One thing that always holds true is that correctly appointing a good team will always make a development run more smoothly, and will help you deal with the many known and unknown challenges of building houses.
Seneca’s Relationship Manager, Paul Fitzsimmons, has the following pointers for developers about putting a strong team together.
- It’s never too early to start thinking about building the right team. View an architect’s or a builder’s completed projects and find out how they delivered a build and overcame any problems.
- It sounds obvious but it’s absolutely critical that you establish your supplier’s ability to do what you’re asking them to do.
- It’s not just WHOM you appoint, it’s HOW you appoint them – architects and structural engineers (known as Consultants), as well as main contractors employed on a design and build contract, should all be formally appointed; simply accepting a quote from one of these parties will potentially cause you headaches. There are resources online with sample Letters of Appointment, but I’d always suggest this is a task best left to your lawyer.
- Development funders, such as ourselves, take collateral warranties over the appointments of these parties. These are legal documents that also give a property’s subsequent owner or mortgage provider some peace of mind regarding the design standards that have been employed in a project.
- Listen to the Planners and engage a good consultancy. It’s amazing how many developers seek pre-application advice from local authorities then don’t adhere to that advice! Planning applications can be straightforward, but they will be longer and more costly if you move the goalposts.
- We’ll also want to see a new homes warranty or latent defects insurance policy. Developers should take the time to shop around as there are several providers in the market. Make sure you understand what your liabilities will be and the service level agreements the warranty provider can offer.
- Make sure your lawyers are competent to undertake development finance work. It’s very different from conveyancing and it’s worth paying a little bit more for the expertise provided by law firms with banking and construction expertise.
- Developers should consider bringing an experienced project management firm onboard to sit between themselves and the various contractors and consultants. This gives lenders peace of mind and ensures there’s the necessary expertise on the team to deal with the unexpected. Project Managers are used to dealing with lenders and lawyers in particular and can be of great assistance when it comes to having any difficult conversations with your suppliers.
- If you’re a broker, or a developer, engage our expertise as early as possible. We can answer a lot of questions whilst a project is still in its infancy, meaning completions are quicker, saving time and money.