How to profit from property; Can you still make money from property development in the current climate? Karen Wilson gets some tips for budding Sarah Beeneys.

21 Avr 2016 - 06:30:08
JAMES Chapple was just 22 when he got the property developing bug.With a pounds 8,500 deposit saved from his job as a travel guide hebought his first home - a three-bed terrace in London. "I did allthe work myself ," says James, 36 who now lives in Alnmouth withwife Elly and two children Ella and Reuben.

"It took me two years but I made a good profit and thought I could do a few more of these!" Although he made lots of mistakes at the beginning, 45 developments later, James now knows all the pitfalls and can work out in minute detail a contingency plan for every eventuality. His advice, whether you're planning a property development or simply want to maximise your home's sale appeal, is invaluable. "I'm not convinced the market's depressed," says James. "If a house is in the right location at the right price, people will buy it. I've yet to be proven wrong by that."

James has just finished his latest project - a luxury four-bedroom house in High Buston, near Alnmouth, created from a "knackered old barn" and one of the adjoining cottages which he bought in December 2009.

Part conversion and part newbuild, it's now a beautiful light-filled space with well proportioned rooms.

A second one-bedroom cottage has been extended to create a separate two-bedroom home next door.

Forward planning was key to the success of the project. Before he'd even viewed the property James had done his research and knew exactly the kind of couple who might buy it, what the finished sale price might be and even how much rent they could get as a holiday let if it didn't sell.

"I knew it was coming on the market so I was the first personto view it," says James. "I had a letter from the bank andevidence my funds were in place so I could agree to buy it thatday."

Before the sale went through, James approached the planning department who suggested a few amendments. He also sent his plans round the village, changing a window at the request of one neighbour.

"We didn't do anything too daring to ensure we would get planning permission," explains James.

However as they had to exchange contracts in "a ridiculously short space of time" and securing full planning permission would take months, James had to rely on the positive indications he'd already had from the council.

"We wouldn't have got finance without the planning permission in place, so we had to buy it up front for cash," he explains.

As with any building project, there were hiccups along the way but "all of these were knowns" according to James.

"You have to anticipate every possible problem," explains James. "For instance it was a tricky sloping site so we had to excavate more rock than we thought. We also had to underpin the foundations of the property next door and factor in extra money when installing the sewerage treatment plant."

The main surprise was the six months it took to get the pounds 20,000 covenant lifted as the land was owned by the Duke of Northumberland.

"It was a very high fee but I knew before I bought it," says James. "We couldn't start work without it."

In the end James went over budget by 10%, choosing to upgrade his spec as the property market changed.

At every step of the way, he had his target buyers in mind - a second home owner, retired couple or a family with older children. "It couldn't be too minimalist but not too olde worlde either," he says. "We needed to factor in comfort so there's underfloor heating, hardwearing finishes and a wood burning stove."

The kitchen/diner was a key room with quality cream units from Callerton Kitchens and folding sliding patio doors that open right up to make the terrace feel like part of the house. In the bathrooms James chose high use fittings from Porcelanosa because "it's a luxurious brand that people recognise" and tiles from both Porcelanosa and Classic Tiles of Newcastle. All the bedrooms have fitted storage too.

When it comes to staging the property for sale James believesit's all about creating a lifestyle. He's used some of his ownfurniture to keep costs down as well as items from previous developmentsto dress the rooms. "There's a little bit of beg, borrow andsteal," he admits.

"But don't overdo it. You only need a few key pieces."

Upstairs James has only dressed the master bedroom, which has a dressing room and en suite, opting for a bespoke headboard to add wow to an ordinary double bed.

Next on the horizon, once the neighbouring cottage is finished, is to convert a large house into flats in Alnmouth. But James also has an exciting new project up his sleeve as part of his strategy to diversify his portfolio - a new concept called 'galleried living', that he hopes will bring executive rental apartments with double height ceilings to Gateshead.

Seafields House, High Buston, Northumberland is for sale through Rook Matthews Sayer at pounds 540,000, tel 01665 510044.


QUALITY James Chapple relaxes in the lounge at Seafield House. TOUCH OF CLASS The contemporary kitchen/diner at Seafield House. STYLE The courtyard leading into the kitchen. Right, one of the bedrooms. HOME James Chapple in the kitchen of his latest development, the luxury four-bedroom house at High Buston, near Alnmouth.

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