The Five Stages of a Successful Residential Property Development

Dominique Grubisa
Dominique Grubisa

Published 7:40 am 25 Jun 2018

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If you want to become a property developer, knowledge is power. DG Institute Founder Dominique Grubisa explains that by understanding the five stages of the property development process you’ll improve your chances of pulling off a successful project.

It’s one of the great Australian dreams. Giving up the grind of a nine-to-five job and becoming your own boss by developing residential property. Rather than being chained to the desk and helping to build someone else’s business, you’re free to run your own day and pursue your own wealth creation dreams.

With interest rates at record low levels and strong property markets in the eastern state capitals, increasing numbers of people are taking the leap and chasing this dream. And there are plenty of success stories. While the stakes and risks are high, so too are the rewards, with successful developers realising millions of dollars in profits for even small-scale developments.

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The problem for many would-be residential developers is that property development is a complex business. Unlike the relatively simple process of flipping a property, property development often involves the consolidation of multiple blocks or the subdivision of a single large block. There are a range of professionals to deal with, strict council regulations to comply with, and an ever-changing range of finance options. Often the amount of work involved and the expertise required to pull off a successful development are so daunting that all but the most resolute are scared off.

The good news is that like any other process, residential property development can be broken down into a series of different steps. By learning a little about each stage and seeing where it fits in, you can demystify the process and make a more informed decision about getting involved. As your knowledge grows, so will your confidence that, yes, this is something you could actually do. (We share this same approach with students in the DG Institute’s free event Property Developer Workshop). So, take your time and read through the five key property developments processes of a typical residential property development below.

Property Development Process

Phase 1 of Property Development: Research

Good research is the foundation stone for a successful development. Long before a single dollar leaves your pocket or a signature is signed, you will want to have a firm picture in your mind of what it is you’re hoping to achieve and what sort of development you want to undertake.

The process starts by arming yourself with all the information needed to determine which locations have the potential to make money. This involves evaluating potential suburbs, neighbourhoods and sites, doing a preliminary market study, putting together a budget, carrying out a preliminary financial analysis, preparing a timing analysis and reviewing the political climate and the council approval process. Additionally, you’ll need to study the council zoning maps, identify potential sites, and discuss your potential development with a council planner.

Phase 2 of Property Development: Feasibility

Once you have completed your research, you’ll need to conduct a feasibility study. This is basically a business plan for your development and its purpose is to demonstrate that it has the potential to turn a worthwhile profit. Feasibility work involves completing a market study and working out a preliminary program for the project. You’ll evaluate the design criteria, set a target budget, pull together your initial financial plans, set milestones and confirm zoning and required approvals.

Phase 3 of Property Development: Pre-construction

Once you are satisfied that the project will be profitable, it’s time to prepare for construction. You’ll need to finalise the acquisition of the site, get any required government approvals and begin talks with builders and the other professionals you will need for the construction of the project. You will also need to get your finance in order, engage an architect to produce your plans and DA, and evaluate prospective builders and project managers. You’ll submit a Development Application, revise and update your feasibility study, and potentially begin presales.

Phase 4 of Property Development: Construction

This is one of the most exciting moments in the process. During this phase, your development project will finally become tangible. While you may not be doing any of the actual construction work yourself, you will gain great satisfaction seeing your hard work come to fruition. You’ll need to choose a builder, issue a construction contact, and potentially appoint a project manager to oversee the different building stages and milestones and eventual handover.

Phase 5 of Property Development: Marketing and Selling

Finally, you’ll need to prepare a marketing plan for your development and sell the properties to realise a profit. This involves researching your target market, commissioning creative materials that suit the marketing channel, deciding on a channel, and executing a sales campaign.

So, now you have a basic grounding of the property development process. Continue to build on this and you will be well on your way to realising your wealth creation dreams.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a property development process?

If you have never undertaken a property development before, the concept of taking an empty or under-utilised block of land and creating a residential development may seem daunting. But just like any other complex task, property development can be broken down into smaller steps. By understanding each step of the process and taking each of these on one at a time, you can make the undertaking far more manageable. It’s a lot like learning to swim or ride a bicycle – you won’t grasp it all at once, but you will get there. The stages of the process include research, feasibility, preconstruction, construction and marketing and sale.

What are the stages of property development?

The good news for first-time property developers is that the development process can be broken down into five distinct and manageable stages. The first stage is research, during which you will arm yourself with all the information needed to determine which locations have the potential to make money. Next comes the feasibility stage where you create a business plan for the development and ensure it is potentially profitable. Next is preconstruction where you purchase the property, followed by the construction phase when bricks and mortar are laid. Finally, comes the marketing and sales phase where you put find buyers for the development product you have created and reap your rewards.

What are the 5 stages of building a house?

The process of building a house can be broken down into five distinct stages. The first of these is the base stage. This is when the site is prepared and the concrete foundations upon which the house will sit are poured. Next comes the frame stage, during which the frame and roof are erected from materials including timber and steel. This is followed by the lock-up stage when the windows and doors are installed and external cladding added. Next is the fixing stage during which internal components such as plasterboard, cabinetry, insulation and doors are added. Finally, comes the completion stage when light switches, taps and door locks are fitted.

What are the stages for land development?

If you are planning to conduct a property development on a greenfield (previously undeveloped) site, there are a number of processes you will first need to complete. The first of these are earthworks to ensure the site is level, cleared of any obstructions and suitable for building. Next comes installation of infrastructure to manage waste and water. The next step is carrying out works to connect the property to the existing street infrastructure, followed by the installation of cabling for electricity and communications. The development process can now proceed, with landscaping carried out at the end to complete works.

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Lawyer, Asset Protection Specialist and Property Educator

Dominique Grubisa is a practicing lawyer with over 25 years experience. She is a property investor and developer, an entrepreneur with businesses in Australia and Southeast Asia, a speaker, educator, writer and published author.

This column has been written for general information purposes only. It is not intended as legal, financial or investment advice and should not be construed or relied on as such.

About DG Institute

Founded in 2009, DG Institute strives to empower everyday Australians to grow and protect their wealth. Our goal is to provide direction, motivation and inspiration to our clients and help them perform at their very best. We do that through our professional services, in addition to teaching them how to grow their wealth through property and business education.

This column has been written for general information purposes only. It is not intended as legal, financial or investment advice and should not be construed or relied on as such.

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