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Property Investment Updates

Construction time – Part 3 of 3 part series

Property development can be daunting so I’ve put together some FAQs to help address some of the important questions that will arise as you start your development.

This has been broken down to a three part series;
  1. Getting Started
  2. Design, Planning and Approvals (as seen last Thursday)
  3. Construction Time
2. Construction Time 
 “Each of us is carving a stone, erecting a column, or cutting a piece of stained glass in the construction of something much bigger than ourselves,” Adrienne Clarkson.
Construction time is the best part of developing property…seeing that first sod turned and standing back as the excavator starts to form up your site is truly satisfying.  The groundbreaking, also known as cutting the site marks a massive milestone in your development project. 
There is so much work that needs to be completed before getting to this stage.  You’ve found a site, negotiated to purchase it, researched with council and other authorities, run your feasibility, got your designs done, had your building quotes completed, prepared documentation and lodged your DA, perhaps battled with council.  Then you’ve obtained your consent and engineering and construction certificate plans and the CC consent.  Once fully approved there are still more hoops to jump through and it’s off to your lender to get your finance organised and finally unconditional approval.  
The development process is like an iceberg.  Most of the work required in project managing your property development is done before you cut the site.  It’s all hidden below the surface. 
So by the time your project comes out of the ground, you have done most of the work.   Inexperienced developers won’t understand this but I know the sheer volume of hours required to get a project to the construction phase is phenomenal.
When can I start construction?
As soon as you have your DA – Development Application & CC – Construction Certificate consents and you have obtained an unconditional finance approval, your builder can start construction.

What is the first process?
Site clearing is required before you can start preparing your slab or footings. So ensure your builder has included vegetation and tree removal.  If you are demolishing an old house or building then ensure this is done before your builder is ready to start as you do not want to hold up the process.

How should I manage my builder?
It’s important to have open communication with your builder from the start. Explain to him that you want to be involved and depending on your experience and time available let him know if you will be project managing the development or engaging a project manager.
As project managers, we are in constant communication with our builder’s site or construction mangers. 
What does a project manager do and do I need one?
A project manager can help you to fast track your development. A good project manager will:
  • Save you money
  • Save you time
  • Minimize your risk
  • Teach you how to manage your development
  • Give you access to sites not on open market
  • Professionally manage, record and report the process for you
  • Share their local knowledge, experience, contacts, suppliers 
  • Allow you to keep your day job
  • You can learn the process then hopefully feel more confident to manage our next project.
You could use a project manager if you are inexperienced or time poor or both. It’s a good idea to use a project manager if you want to learn the process of developing, you can have your hand held through the development and will be amazed by what you will learn by being guided through the process.

Main steps in the construction phase include (for typical slab & brick construction):
  • Site preparation. This involves clearing of the site, pegging out of the site by the surveyor. Sometimes retaining walls will also be built at this stage if required.
  • Slab. The plumber will need to lay plumbing that will be located beneath the slab of the development. This needs to be done before the slab can be formed up.  The slab piering is then completed as per the engineer’s specifications and plans and then the slab can be poured.  It’s very exciting to see the slabs go down.  
  •  Frames & roof trusses.  The frames are generally prepared before being delivered to site and can be erected very quickly with a day or so. It’s great to walk around the site once the frames are up and get a feel for each room.
  • Roof tiling of metal roofing.  Some builders prefer to complete the roof before starting the brickwork and other builders work the other way around. I’ve found predominately builders want to get the roof on as quickly as possible to protect the frames.
  • Brick work. This stage really gives the development true structure and you can feel the development making good progress when you see the brickwork completed.
  • Rough ins.  This involves the electrical and plumbing wiring and pipes to be installed before the internal linings to the frames.
  • Internal linings. After the rough in is complete, the insulation will be installed into the wall and ceilings and then the plaster will start on linging the walls and ceilings. You really get a good sense of space within the dwellings at this stage.
  • Waterproofing and tiling.  The wet areas will be water proofed in preparation for the tilers to start work, generally after or even during the timber mould out.
  • Timber mould out. This stage involves the carpenters installing the skirting boards, architraves, door jams and doors and kitchens.
  • Lock up is when all external doors including garage doors are on.
  • P.C.  fit out.  P.C. is a term for a Prime Cost Item and includes tapware, bath, mirror, vanities and other accessories which are installed at this stage.  
  • Practical Completion. This is the point in time when an inspection is conducted when builder is almost finished. You will walk through the development with the site manager and point out any items that still need attention. By this time it should only be touch ups and minor items requiring installation.
  • Handover.  This is when you are happy the construction has been completed to your satisfaction and to the plans and after paying the builder’s final invoice, keys will be handed over to you.

When can I lease out or sell my development?
Once handover is completed and you have received the Occupation Certificates from council or your private certifier, you can lease the dwellings out.  If you are building more than one dwelling then you may also be subdividing so you cannot sell the individual dwellings before you have subdivision approval. They may be sold subject to approval or registration of the subdivision. 
Seeing your development emerge from the dust and dirt and slowly take shape until it resembles exactly what you have planned is one of the most exciting and satisfying moments you could experience as a property developer.  

As I see Property Bloom projects come to completion, it really makes me feel like we’ve achieved an amazing thing for our clients; manufactured equity, provided education, created strong yields and most of all helped them fast track their portfolio and plan for their future.  It is such a wonderful feeling to step back and look at what’s been created and understand the needs that have been met for our clients and for the local communities we develop in. Seeing the dwellings tenanted or sold and lived in by families that will get to enjoy the fruits of your labour is what it’s all about.

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