Alex Wright and his partner Chelsea Nelson hadn't planned to become developers. They simply wanted to build a home.
After buying a site at auction, their neighbour offered to sell them an extra piece of land allowing them to build a second house, which they have sold. Their latest development is an infill plot within the Lindley Estate in Peckham, South London.
Our five takeaways from Alex’s talk are:
1. Finding sites takes organisation and time. Alex checks the relevant estate agents’ websites every day and has alerts set up on Rightmove and Zoopla. He does the same for auctions and has alerts for when catalogue are released – typically two weeks before the auction.
2. Setting up a practice was ‘really important’ as a first time architect developer because it reassures lenders you know more about the construction industry "than the average Joe."
3. Quality is more important than profit. However, Alex knew that for Leybourne Road, the "profit would be there and it would be substantial", so he wasn't worried that materials ended up costing more than the original budget. His approach is that ‘generally in London you can afford to do quality design because people will pay for it’.
4. Always have a contingency built into the loan. Alex had to use nearly all the contingency for services to site – water, electricity, drainage and gas installation– because he had mistakenly assumed they would be included in the construction contract.
5. Do make complaints about solicitors if they under-perform. Alex went through seven solicitors before finding the right one.
Alex Wright co-founded his practice with Nelson, an interior designer in 2019. Prior to this he worked for Hawkins Brown working predominantly on housing and mixed use schemes.
The next talk in the series is architect developer, John Smart on June 29th.