Jo Chivers is director of Property Bloom, which manages property development.

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Jo Chivers

20 December 2012

A year of highlights and lowlights in property development management

A year of highlights and lowlights in property development management

Phew, what a year (sigh of relief that’s it’s almost over).

This year we completed the most development projects for our clients in our business history, but it wasn’t until I sat down to lunch with one of my builders and team last week that I’d even had time to reflect.  We wanted to celebrate the massive year we had all had.  My builder had turned over a record amount, and his business was up 15% – not bad in these ‘tough’ times.  Property Bloom also had a record year, which shows in new wrinkles forming on my face. I need a holiday!

At lunch we looked at some stats I put together on what we’d achieved.

There were some highlights but also some lowlights. I had one builder go into liquidation, which I would not wish on my worst enemy but wanted to mention in the light of another large NSW builder – Procorp was swept into administration a few weeks ago.  We completed this three-unit project early this year, and I had coffee with my client recently. Of course it wasn’t what we had expected, and the delay and added cost of finishing construction with another builder is very frustrating, but Property Bloom managed this process smoothly. After getting no fewer than five quotes to complete their triplex, we saved about $80,000 by using our smaller, renovation builder.  He was more affordable because he was on the tools himself.  At the end of their project the tax rebate from the high depreciation was a good reward together with the high yield they are getting. So they were not too sad, but this was definitely a lowlight for us.

We also completed two other projects that started off very differently to how they ended. We had planned for three-unit projects but ended with dual occupancies due to a sequence of unexpected events at the council, which had its planning powers taken and an independent planning panel suddenly put in place that proceeded to reject development application after development application (DA) without warning or giving us or anyone else a chance to modify plans. These circumstances were well beyond everyone’s wildest imaginations, and so these developments were impacted by a situation totally unforeseen.

We are extremely proud of this year because the highlights far outweigh the low ones.  The reason I’m even mentioning lowlight projects is because we all need to understand the risks in property developing and also because I’m an honest person.  It’s not always beer and skittles!

If you are going to develop property, you need to be prepared for the unknown. It’s like unwrapping a Christmas gift and not knowing what’s inside until all the wrapping is gone and the contents revealed.  A development site is somewhat similar; it’s not until you get through each phase – site selection, design, planning and construction that you really know what you will end up with.


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