Development land – how do you assess its suitability?

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At Fibre Architects we are often involved in projects from the early ideas stage, this involves assessment of buildings and or land with development potential. If you are thinking of developing land or starting a new project, then you will need expert advice to successfully achieve your desired outcome(s).

We have listed a few things to help you, although we do recommend that you get in touch and arrange a free consultation to get you started on the right path for a successful project.

Finding your perfect piece of land

Local councils are a good starting point as they identify appropriate land and outline the development needs. If you have a piece of land and are unsure if you can develop it then you will need to look at the following:

Suitability is a key word for you – this means a measure of how well the qualities of the proposed land matches the requirements of the land use. Each piece of land is unique, so just listening to friends and neighbours or following what someone else did alone is definitely not advisable.

A good local knowledge of likely planning requirements, possible constraints or abnormalities as well as a keen eye for detail and the relevant development expertise are essential before you make firm plans– it may save you a lot of money before you invest in what seems the perfect spot.

It is possible to change landscapes and their features, but does that fit with local authority wildlife and ecological policies? Each piece of land also has specific use classifications that relate to the council’s overall objectives, so great care must be taken when assessing suitability.

Key areas to consider and seek advice on:

  • Determine area and site size
  • Review all existing information available
  • Site and condition survey(s)
  • Estimating the development potential – suitability, availability and viability
  • Overcoming constraints or issues – what are they and how do you resolve them?
  • Ensuring you have all the relevant background information to prepare your assessment
  • Ensuring that the land you wish to develop is suitable for the appropriate residential or commercial development
  • Check the deeds – planning approval alone does not always give you the legal right to build or develop the land so consult your solicitor
  • Review all drainage, services, transport and parking requirements and consult relevant professionals for advice
  • Architect initial feasibility layouts, designs and plans for viability assessments and any necessary applications
  • Social and economic plans to support your project
  • Research and support from the community, local councils and neighbourhoods will be valuable
  • Once the initial assessment is complete and satisfactory – move to the planning stage based upon sound evidence and assessed risks

Start to prepare an initial programme and delivery schedule for the development, taking into account financing requirements and all necessary approvals.

Fibre Architects are experts in this field so do give us a call for the best advice and a free consultation appointment to discuss specific opportunities or projects.

Liverpool housing development nearing completion

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One of our largest housing development projects to date is making significant progress.

 

Sandhills Village, a £3m development of 30 homes to the north of Liverpool City Centre is expected to be complete by Christmas 2017. Our team were first asked to look at the site back in 2007, and were not fully commissioned until 2014 due to the recession taking its toll, so it’s pivotal and really pleasing to finally see this project coming together.

 

The majority of these 3 and 4-bedroom homes are now sold having proved popular with families, professionals and investors alike.

 

The modern homes have been designed with striking Portland stone dressings contrasted with red brick, a style that is synonymous within residential many properties in the Liverpool area. Many of the homes have been designed over three floors to be contextual, which additionally, has allowed us to create more residential space per site area. Some of the final properties within the development have been built timber frame, which along with other benefits has significantly reduced the build time as the project nears completion.

 

The developers of the site are really pleased with what’s been achieved thanks to the work we have done, marketing feedback has been very positive in all respects and phase 2 of the project is expected to begin work next year, comprising a further development of 80 apartments on the site immediately to the rear.

View the images of the site so far >

How to Renovate for Profit

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Even the most ambitious of renovations can turn a profit if you follow these basic rules. Property developer and author of Renovating for Profit, Michael Holmes, shares his top tips.

1. Buy the Worst House on the Best Street
You can’t influence an area or change the street, but you can completely transform the house and totally rebuild it if necessary. At this point the price you pay is absolutely critical.

2. Get the Essentials Right First
Prioritising your budget, always put money towards the essentials first, to make sure the building is warm, dry and free of damp, and is a secure property.

3. Don’t Get Carried Away
Think: Who is going to buy this? What are they looking for? Do your research, have a look at what other developers are doing in your area.

4. Add Central Heating
Updating the central heating system will always add more to the value and is a priority to buyers. Seal any draughts, replace windows with double glazing and adding insulation into the loft space. If the existing boiler is in reasonable working order, try to make use of it by adding new radiators, a heated towel rail, or underfloor heating.

5. Consider Remodelling While Renovating
After looking at the basics, focus on making the best use of your space. Add space in order of cost-effectiveness:
• First, remodel the space that you have already got.
• After that, convert spaces perhaps the loft, a garage, or a cellar.
• Next, think about the possibilities of extending up because that’s always cheaper than extending out, and you don’t lose garden space; if that’s not a possible extend backwards or sideways.
• Extend down and create a basement, but that is expensive.
• If nothing else works, you can usually add extra space at the bottom of the garden with an outbuilding.

6. Fix Superficial Defects
Small defects don’t directly affect the value of a property. However, together they will prevent it selling at the optimum price. Examples of typical defects:
• Peeling paint
• Squeaking or sticking doors and windows
• Door latches that don’t work
• Mouldy sealants in kitchens and bathrooms
• Dripping taps
• Loose tiles

7. Remember the ‘Ceiling Value’
There is a ‘ceiling value’ – a maximum value that any property can achieve. The best way to identify this is looking at what other people’s homes have sold as; look on Rightmove or Zoopla.