Property Development

Property Development 101: Development Manager

25th January 2021

What is a Development Manager and why do I need one?

To the uninitiated, the property development world can seem daunting and more than a little confusing. But it doesn’t need to be. In this article, we take a look at the role of a Development Manager and explain why you need one.

Whether you’re just dipping your toe in the water of property development or are already involved but are confused by some of the terms you have heard, our Property Development 101 articles are written to educate, demystify, and debunk allowing you to make well-informed decisions about your property development investments.

Who acts as Development Manager?

Whether a Development Manager is an employee or a specialist consultant usually depends on the size of the development company. In large companies, they will usually be an employee who is then supported by an expert project management consultant as and where necessary. 

However, in small to medium development companies and Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs), it is more likely that the property development project will be overseen by the borrower of the development funds – assuming they have relevant knowledge and experience.

If the borrower does not have the requisite experience it is usually the case that the funders expect the borrower to retain a professional team to provide specialist advice and guidance. Typically this includes a Development Manager or Project Manager. There may be a need for a combination of both roles if the scheme is of size or complexity that requires a broader mix of skills and experience. 

Alternatively, if the borrower is a joint venture (JV), building contractor or investment company, the role of Development Manager will be delivered by an independent company or consultant to ensure impartiality and independence.

The role of a Development Manager

The aim of a property development company or SPV is to buy land (or property) and increase its current value, whilst considering time and inflation, in order to maximise a return on investment (ROI). 

The process of property development can be a complex, and often convoluted one. However, it can be simplified into eight distinct stages which are overseen by the Development Manager. 

  1. Site Finding
  2. Viability and Appraisal
  3. Finance 
  4. The deal
  5. Detailed due diligence
  6. Planning (if the site is not purchased with planning permission)
  7. Construction 
  8. Sales / Lettings

Key Responsibilities

The key responsibilities of a Development Manager include:

  • Managing the development project from site identification through to the successful  implementation of the exit strategy; 
  • Procuring and managing consultant teams throughout the planning, pre-letting/pre-sales, development, delivery, marketing, and leasing/sales stages;
  • Site identification and completion of initial risk assessments;
  • Undertaking feasibility and viability appraisals and brokering land deals;
  • End to end risk management;
  • Managing joint ventures, development agreements, and funding arrangements;
  • Preparing documents such as development briefs, business plans and strategic development programmes as well as all development reporting and funding requests;
  • Overseeing financial analysis, creating development appraisal and profit forecasting;
  • Ensuring robust health and safety compliance, whilst procuring services to cover CDM obligations;
  • Overseeing the production and administration of all building contract (by others), construction and procurement processes; 
  • Leading public consultation events and representing the development company;
  • Liaising with the marketing company and sales professionals in order to maximise sales and profits.

Although there is a vast team of professionals who complete the day to day work including; designers, planners, contract administrator, building contractor, marketers, selling agents and so on, it is the Development Manager’s job to ensure everything is kept on track and the development(s) runs smoothly.

 Essentially the Development Manager is the conductor of an orchestra. 

They are the key individual who oversees others who perform specific tasks. It is down to the Development Manager to ensure team members know when a task must be completed, coordinates the various parties, makes sure everyone is kept up to speed – all whilst making sure the whole development process runs like clockwork. 

Why you need a Development Manager

In reality, each of the eight processes would, in all likelihood, get completed without a Development Manager.

However, the Development Manager ensures that these processes are efficiently coordinated, well communicated, delivered in a timely manner, are consistent, and meet the intended overall aims and objectives of the development company. 

A development which lacks this comprehensive oversight carries a high risk of the whole development descending into chaos – something we’ve all witnessed at some stage in our careers! 

Throughout the normal course of delivering development projects, it is inevitable that problems will arise. But with a Development Manager at hand, all the different processes, tasks and activities are pulled together, and necessary changes are made, coordinated and communicated in order to overcome these problems. 

By contrast, without one, these processes risk continuing uncoordinated and uncorrected, in turn escalating the problems. 

In fact, without a highly competent Development Manager or development management service, the development risks lacking the leadership, expert knowledge and experience needed to deliver a successful outcome. The Development Manager manages risk, budget, health & safety, quality, time, leaving the development company, JV or SPV free to focus on the end result. 

Benefits of using a Development Manager 

As you can see, the key benefit of using a Development Manager is having an experienced and knowledgeable person overseeing the timely delivery of the development project. 

When you employ a Development Manager you have a single point of contact who is focused on safeguarding your investment and ensuring that your development is not at risk from exposures such as non-compliance with CDM Regulations or a lack of robust health & safety management. 

Evolution5’s Development Management Service

Drawing on over 25 years of industry experience, Evolution5’s Development Management Service provides funders, investors, JVs, SPVs and property development companies with the reassurance of choosing a Development Manager with the right skills and experience to deliver your project. With our comprehensive mix of skills and experience, our team is the natural choice if you desire confidence and peace of mind that your investment will be safeguarded, risks well managed and your development team will work collaboratively to a successful outcome.

For more information, or to discuss your development management needs, please call 023 8040 5073 or email.