© Property Developers Academy Ltd 2019

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The Housebuilding Handbook

by Richard & Brynley Little

How do you build a low risk, high reward property development business?

Housebuilding can be an incredibly rewarding, enjoyable, profitable business, provided you get it right. The Housebuilding Handbook takes you through the 7 stages of the property development process giving real world, experienced insights into how to build your business through the ups and downs of challenging markets. If you have a desire to start and scale a professional, sustainable property development business that will stand the test of time, then reading this book is essential. 

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Here's an extract from The Housebuilding Handbook to whet your appetite;

Level 1 - Initial Assessment

When an opportunity lands on our desk the first thing we do is conduct an Initial Assessment. This is an 8-part data collection to establish whether there are any show stoppers that would bring an end to any further assessment and allow us to move on to the next opportunity in our pipeline.

The 8-point IA Checklist TM is;

1. Land Registry
2. Flood Risk
3. Tree Preservation Orders (TPO’s)
4. Access
5. Designation 
6. Market History
7. Planning History
8. Local Restrictions

They do not have to be done in a particular order, and once you get into a rhythm of doing it then you (or someone on your team) will be able to do this fairly quickly.

Land Registry – Check the Title Register see if there are any restrictions or covenants that may hinder or prevent any development.

Flood Risk – Determine whether the site is at risk of flooding. Find out what flood zone the site is in (1-3) and check if the site is at risk from surface water flooding, flooding from rivers & seas and also flooding from reservoirs.

Tree Preservation Orders (TPO’s) – TPO’s can severely affect the development potential of a site. If there are any trees, copses or hedgerows on or bounding the site check to see if anything has a Preservation Order. How accessible this information is will vary from Local Authority to Local Authority.

Access – This is the most common show stopper on the IA Checklist TM. Whether you are looking to build 1 additional dwelling or larger multi-unit developments, you will need to establish whether the site has sufficient access. The speed limit, contours and designation of the road bounding your site will determine the dimensions of the visibility splay needed.

Designation – This refers to the designation of the area and/or building, such as greenfield, greenbelt, brownfield, employment zones, local centres, conservation areas, and retail. The area designation can in some cases restrict or prevent new development or change of use.

Market History – Check to see if the site you are looking at is, or has been, marketed for sale. This isn’t s show stopper but gives you a potential indication as to the motivation level and expectation of the seller.

Planning History – Go onto your Local Planning Authority planning portal and see whether the site has any current or previously planning history. Has an application ever been submitted, withdrawn, granted, or refused?

Local Restrictions – Look for physical things in the locality that may affect future development, such as; overhead cables, bus stops, phone boxes, double yellow and double red lines and overlooking windows.

If you fail to find any show stoppers then continue with your appraisal onto level 2, Planning Assessment.