Before we look at some of the technical aspects of development, it’s important to remember that, as a developer, you need to be playing the role of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) rather than a hands-on project manager. As a result, you’re not trying to master every detail. Instead, you need a high-level overview of some things and a more in-depth understanding of others. A good analogy is that of the cabinet minister who has been re-shuffled to a new department. They will inherit a team of civil servants who collectively understand every detail within the department’s brief. The minister in question won’t know a great deal about their new portfolio on Day 1, but over time will build up a high-level knowledge of what they need to know to do their job. And they’ll have their experienced team beneath them who understand the detail and who can be called on as necessary to advise. The minister is effectively the CEO of their department, and you’ll be playing a similar role for your own development business.
As a developer, you’re going to be meeting quite a few people who will be critical to your project. You’ll be working alongside maybe two dozen or so professional disciplines, ranging from the more senior team members such as your architect, structural, engineer, project manager, and contractor, right through to more specialist roles such as asbestos consultant, warranty assessor, and health and safety consultant. Forge good relationships with each of them and make a point of understanding their brief for your project. As a minimum, you should know what their deliverables and responsibilities are.
Aside from murdering your contractor, there’s only one area where you, as a developer, could be looking at jail time if you get things wrong, and that’s health and safety. The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM regulations) set out the health and safety-related responsibilities of people involved on a construction project. Critically these responsibilities apply not only to the construction phase, where arguably the most significant risk is but are also designed to protect the safety of people who go on to occupy what gets built. Even more critically, the person deemed to be ultimately responsible for health and safety on a construction project is the developer, which will be you. Since there are some pretty harsh penalties for getting it wrong, it’s something you should be paying close attention to.