How to get started in property development


How to get started in property development checklist

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So you want to make money from property? One of the best ways to do this is buying land or a project and developing it, but it's not easy to do, it takes time, a lot of expertise and it's risky, especially if the market goes south.

John Howard is an extremely experienced property developer who has ridden many property market ups and downs - unlike the many so called 'property gurus' who have often gone bust or owe the banks or private individuals money.
Here are his 'Top 15 property development tips' to get you started:

1. Don't start with a 'deal'. First you need to learn what you can and can't do, whether it's a small or a large project:


When can you use permitted development rights?

Are you likely to be working in a Conservation area - what are the restrictions?

Are the planners development friendly or not?

What building regulations will be required?

  2. Understand the Local Plan - by law each Local Authority has to have one. It explains what homes are wanted and needed and highlights where they are planned to be built.
  3. How long are planning approvals taking in your area?
  4. Renovation projects need to drive 20% profit - can you make this stack up in your area?
5. Self build/bigger projects should be delivering 30% profit - how achievable is this?
6. Be realistic about the costs of a project, don't under estimate costs and over value the property. Don't assume you can sell at a higher price than anyone else has done before.
7. Can your project survive a 20% fall in prices? Can you let it if you can't sell?
8. Find an architect that has successfully worked with the Local Authority on similar plans and ideally overturned rejections on appeal.
9. Find local builders and understand their timescales - the good ones may be booked a year in advance, understand their payment schedules and insurance.
10. Understand what national/local resources are available to find projects eg Plotsearch, or if you want to build your own home, your Local Authority must consider your request via a Custom Build Registry.
11. Find a local surveyor to work with to help you with valuing land/projects and renovation/build costs.
12. Check out what access you have to development finance. How long are the loans for? What will it cost?
13. What if the project takes longer or you need more finance? What checks will you need at each stage to release the next phase of finance funding?
14. Is there any government finance available?
15. What insurance will you need - for the site and for the build? What will the costs be?
For more property development hints and tips from John Howard, visit and subscribe to his YouTube channel.

All our information is brought to you by Kate Faulkner OBE, author of Which? Property books and one of the UK's top property experts.
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