Jack Lawrence is finishing the final touches on a lower ground floor flat in North Kensington; his first development and a project that has taken over two years of work, with a steep learning curve. The flat has been beautifully designed, the project ran on time and to budget with aspects that we felt other ‘would be developers’ could gain experience from. We caught up with Jack to go over the development and his experiences;
This is your first development, what made you go for it?
I had been looking around for a flat with potential for ages, but when I saw this one at auction I could see almost immediately it had the potential to be something special. To be honest, I was probably a bit naive about how easy it would be, but it was on for a good price and listed incorrectly as a commercial site which built up my confidence to go for it.
Do your parents work in property?
No, there’s no real connection. My dad has some properties that he lets out, but nothing on the development side.
Right, so really jumping in at the deep end!
Yeah, I definitely went into it with very little experience!
How long has the development taken?
This one has definitely taken longer than I would have liked, but for a first project, in the condition I bought it, I guess that was inevitable. For my next project, I feel I’m in a better position given the experience I’ve gained.
The first part was organizing all the paperwork (Planning permission, parting walls, contractors etc.) before anyone could even lift a tool. That took about 12 months. After that it is going to be close to two years of building work.
We have put a huge glass pane over the roof of the kitchen, we had to winch that in over the side houses by crane!
What went wrong, what would you avoid doing again and what went well?
To save money I decided not to use architect and do it myself. That was definitely a mistake and ended up costing a lot more and wasted time. For instance, not having someone overlook the structural engineer and temporary works scheme meant that they didn’t link up on one occasion. When the temporary scaffolding was up, it meant we couldn’t get the RSJ in. We had to go back to the drawing board on that one! If I had an architect involved I’m sure he would have flagged it up and also would have have been in a better position to resolve the situation.
Apart from that everything else went pretty much to plan. I would say the best aspect is all the experience gained, ready for the next project.
Who did you use for the building work and design?
Initially it was Ledbury Contractors and then Boiler Surgery; www.boilersurgery.co.uk. I can really recommend both to anyone looking for a great team.
I did all the design myself.
What parts of London are you looking for your next development?
I feel like the suburbs are probably the way forward. Now that I’ve flipped my first, I am looking for two properties to refurbish and then let out to maximise their capital growth. Possibly Forest Gate, Manor Park, New Cross or Acton. I think following the Crossrail and Crossrail 2 will offer a good return as a medium to long term investment.
It sounds like you are going to focus on making this your full time business, how do you intend to scale the business?
Well I do need to focus more on a long term strategy. Generally though, I will focus on investing in up and coming areas for buy-to-let and build up a portfolio.
Do you have any worries about the London property market?
Not really. I am confident we are going to enjoy continued growth. A lot of what I am seeing and reading suggests good growth, with analysts looking at 6% on average for the next few years. This on top of the value I am looking to add means I should still have a successful business model!
Finally, what do you do to relax after a week of work in the flat?
Catching up with friends for a few drinks. I used to own a restaurant, so I enjoy hunting out the all new food spots. My parents have a place in Wiltshire and it’s great to escape to the countryside at the weekend.
A big thank you to Jack for sharing his experience over his first development and we wish him all the best for the next one. His property should be available to buy in about 4 weeks 10 seconds walk form Ladbroke Grove tube. Watch this space and check out how it developed below. Pictures of the completed project coming out in a couple of weeks.
Starting to come together
The garden area; now extended for the kitchen and dining area.
We can’t wait to show you the finished product soon!
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