We have been chatting with Tony Dowie, Co-Founder of Complete Project Development about our bespoke finance solution and his experience of development projects.
Tony and his partner Jonathon have delivered projects which range from small urban renovations, basement and loft conversions to extensions and large scale new build sites. Tony’s projects are primary based in the south of England and he is an excellent developer to work with.
Why did you opt for a bespoke solution? Did you know this was what you needed when you initially started researching?
As a small developer, we would never go to a high street bank because it doesn’t offer the service or structure we need. We look for greater leverage and have less equity and so naturally, have always gone to smaller lenders which suit our requirements far more.
Our company started out in 2013 so we have been running for 5 years now. We have progressed a long way from our very first deal and learnt about the financing side of things through trial and error. With each new project, we learnt something from the last, there has been an evolution of ideas and we now work closely with our lender to ensure that we are gaining the best result.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt during your projects?
Always ask questions! In our early stages, because we were relatively new to the industry, we were more willing to accept deals presented to us. My advice is, however young you are, always challenge your service providers. This does two things, it helps you learn and understand the product you are working with but it also it helps you establish whether there is actually a better solution available. The most frustrating thing is getting a few months in and realising that you could have done something differently or even better.
How does your current project compare to others you have done?
Our current project is the largest regarding GDV and spend but that does not necessarily mean it is the most complicated. We look at everything on a case by case basis and assess how well a project will suit us, we don’t always jump to take something on especially as we know that some things can be too big for us.
We always consider projects based on our strengths, we know what we are good at and what we can complete efficiently. I think that’s a really important factor to consider especially when you are a small company, play to your strengths.
Personally, I like a refurbishment project, it’s something that can be delivered quickly, and you don’t have to face the difficulties of a ground-up project. We also always stick to residential projects and sell units at the end, it works for us so there is no need to move into other competitive markets such as student accommodation just yet.
How has your lender helped you in the process?
When I think about what a good lender can bring, it’s transparency. We have found that it varies from lender to lender what information is required. For me, it is really useful when a lender lays out exactly what they require at the start and also explains why they need particular things. This way, it feels much more like we are working together, rather than that we have to jump through hoops.
A lender – borrower relationship should always be a partnership, we need one another to succeed and so, I appreciate it when there is a level of respect and an appreciation that each is the expert in their respective field.
What advice would you give to someone looking for a first time bespoke lending solution?
Try to avoid being swayed by different rates. I know that it can be tempting to go for the cheaper option, but ultimately, the borrower – lender partnership is a really crucial relationship to the success of your project. This is particularly the case when you need a bespoke product solution, your lender truly needs to understand your needs and be willing to be flexible.
Work with people you like and feel are genuine, the worst thing is when you get yourself into a relationship with a lender you don’t really get on with. When you work well together, it feels much more like you are driving towards a common goal. This is how you make a success of your project.