Happy Friday everyone.  As the Winter closes in… hopefully not us! I thought it would be good to give an update on a case that we blogged about some months ago.

The property got caught up in the lockdown back in March; it was stopped by Octopus and we were able to work with Lendwell to complete the purchase.

The property is a detached grade II house.  A solicitors practice had been using it for some considerable years and our client is reinstating it in it’s original glory and selling it.  Interestingly, whilst completing the works, an elderly gentleman (85 years old) came round as he had lived in the property as a child – his name and date were on his bedroom wall behind new wallpaper! He was able to give some valuable insight which our client found really helpful.  Our client has also managed to visit the adjacent properties to see their original features to help him with his restoration.

The important areas to focus on as an investor are timescales and costings during the current climate. The project has had issues with builders, particularly on the grade II areas.  It’s surprising that a builder can do a really shoddy job and think it looks great – but doesn’t meet the grade II regs that he has been paid for!  There have also been time delays getting materials as I am sure you have all encountered.

The client has had 2 drawdowns from the lender.  As his attention to detail on the paperwork is top drawer, the drawdowns have been really smooth and timely.  It is important to get these details right, as it can cause delays, usually when you don’t have the time or the funds for a delay. Lendwell are keen to build relationships with their clients, and the feedback that we have had for this client has been so positive.  This will make it so much easier when we approach them for the next project, as the client has proven their professionalism and commitment – which often helps when the project isn’t so straightforward or not quite as profitable!

We spoke to our client, Greg from Chamberlain about his biggest challenges about his project and he commented:

“It has been getting started on the outside works and the windows. These parts of the project have been the only areas where we’ve been at the mercy of other parties, namely the local conservation officer to sign off to sign off the window drawings and the building firm whom I had engaged to build a wall to create a courtyard garden.

The building is Grade II listed, so without the sign off of the local conservation office I was unable to order the manufacture of the new timber sash windows which has meant we’ve not yet been able to begin the installation. Once we were able to arrange a meeting on site with the chaps making the windows and the conservation officer it was agreed there and then. This week I visited the workshop where the windows are being handmade and we have a fitting date for later this month. I was hoping to have the installation begin at the end of August.

For the garden wall at the rear of the property, the original building firm I had engaged let me down. Three months in all they had managed to do was build a sample panel of bricks I was embarrassed to show the conservation officer, block a drain with the mess made in the process and grossly miscalculate the amount of bricks required to build the wall! Frustrating to say the least but during this time I had an inkling things were going the wrong way. I was able to engage a local firm who are due on site in 3 weeks’ time to begin the works, which is the final element of the project. Party wall agreements have been signed and we are ready to go.

I think pent up demand during lockdown has meant there is a huge demand for builders and quite often they don’t communicate as well we would all like. When there’s big demand I think  many become complacent and forget about the times when things may go quiet. Consequently, they don’t pick up the phone or call you back. In the case of my first builder, in hindsight I don’t think they had the experience required to deliver the works to the standard we need for a Grade II listed building. I am confident we have finally found a capable firm though, with a healthy track record and financial position”.

I have included some update pictures of where the client has got to, there are more on our Instagram page @Bayafinancial and we will share the finished article when we get there!  You can see all Greg’s progress pictures on his Instagram page, @Chamberlaingrp

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