As Sue Ann mentioned the other day, I spent the weekend in San Diego at a class called the Construction Management Academy. It was two full days under the tutelage of JD Esajian, formerly of Flip That House and one of the founders of CT Homes and Pacific Builders.
There were a lot of details to pick up on, but we didn’t spend as much time on management systems as I would have preferred. Instead, JD used several of their current projects to call out the things you have to be aware of in a construction project, many of them unique to projects that sell for more than a million dollars in California.
Here are a few of the chestnuts I brought home for the Hermit Haus team:
- It is cheaper to fix problems uncovered in planning than in construction. Spend the time needed to thoroughly plan every project instead of trying to minimize the time between closing on the purchase and the start of demolition.
- Some neighborhoods have lengthy delays for permitting. (We know this is also true of Austin, where two of our projects have taken more than a year to permit.) That’s okay so long as you know it going into the project and take the appropriate steps:
- Factor the extra holding costs into your purchasing decision. Usually, this means negotiating a lower purchase price, but it may mean leasing the property out for a year while you work on getting the permits.
- Make sure your financing plan takes the lag into account. You don’t want to have to repay the purchase and renovation loan(s) before your have started your project. Also, you probably don’t want to be paying high private- or hard -money interest rates for a year before you start work.
- You can’t count on appreciation to help you out if you buy wrong. Run your numbers many times before you fork over the cash.
- There has to be a transparent, workable system to facilitate communication and accountability among all team members, including yourself, contractors, lenders, and anyone else involved in the project.
- Always have a contingency in place. There is a truism that you never know what you’ll find when you open a wall. Or a floor, for that matter.
- You’re not alone in this business. Network with your peers. Chances are someone else has already solved the problem that has you stumped.
- Every company should have a mission statement and a code of conduct. Make sure yours are prominently displayed on every job site.