Who is the most important person to approve the design of your project?

By Jo Chivers
Is it the draftsperson/architect who is designing them?  Or, perhaps a town planner at council?  Or your lender?  maybe you?  In my opinion not. 
I can’t tell you how many plans we look over and present to our builders for tendering.  Some come to us as DA approved sites, some also have the Construction Certificate issued - they are our favourites as all the fees & charges have been paid and we can start building immediately. 
But most often we will find a development site and have to start from scratch designing the development.
We may use an architect to design the project depending on the location and type of dwellings we want to build. Or we will ask the builder’s in-house drafting department to prepare plans based on a standard builder’s design.
I often find that the stock standard builder’s design works best because the builder has built it time and time again and they know how much it will cost and any issues with the design have been ironed out long ago.  We can usually make some small changes to the floor plan or façades to put our own stamp on it and make sure it’s different to what’s been built in the area very cost effectively. But every site is different so it’s important that the design you use, is adapted correctly to the site.
One of my biggest issues as a project manager is when the architect or draftsperson has not bothered to go to the site.  
Today I had one of my site managers phone me and the conversation went like this... ”Jo, did that @$##8 draftsperson even come to this site when they were working out their levels?” I said,” I don’t know, this site was DA approved before our client came to us to project mange it...what’s up?” 
“Well I doubt it” he said “as the plumber has just installed the drainage pits to the level on the plan and now we have to bring in tonnes of fill and retain this area to make the drainage work”.   
You can only imagine my response.  Three hours later, we’d worked out a better solution at no additional cost to the client, but it took several discussions between me, the site manager, the engineer and the draftsman. So that’s where my morning went. This could have been avoided if the draftsman had come to site to see in real life what was there.
As a standard practise, we have the Construction Manager of the builder we are using to oversee all our drawings and plans and make sure he is happy with them from a construction perspective before they are submitted to council.  This has made the construction phase a lot smoother.  Often a draftsman’s lack of understanding of the actual building process or the site can mean costly corrections when under construction.
So the most important person for me to check our plans is the Construction Manager. He is going to be the one standing on the site bringing the project to life and if hasn’t picked up an unforseen issue then I don’t know who would have.  

“I was bitten by the property bug, there was no turning back.”

Jo Chivers proves that women can indeed have it all- a career that you are passionate about and a family.  While all of this sounds great, it does require hard work, dedication, perseverance and a bit of risk-taking.

Jo’s love of property development inspired her to leave her corporate career and pursue her true passion. After educating herself in property investing, she started building up her own property portfolio. After purchasing a few blue chip properties in Sydney, she soon realised how negatively geared they were and began researching outside of Sydney. She discovered a more affordable, large region of NSW where she completed her first property development.  Soon her friends were asking her to find them sites and manage their developments. 

She realised there was a need for an all encompassing project management service and her business Property Bloom™ was born.  Ten years down the track, she has developed over 60 properties for clients, creating literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity and high end yields.