As they say, time is money, but time is also so much more valuable than just money
One of the many observations I have made on the development world, is just how long things can take. The development process takes time, there is a lot of red tape and many boxes to tick along the journey. This won’t be news to most, and while many of the steps are necessary, a lot, are avoidable, redundant or just take far longer than they should or could, all of which results in throwing money into a bottomless pit. And while it might be generally assumed that “The Developer” simply raises prices on homes to recoup the time and money lost, it very rarely works like this, if at all.*1
One of the key ingredients to ensure the success of a project is finding the most streamlined way to successfully navigate the process and reach the finish line. This shouldn’t be taken to mean cutting corners, as choosing this path will negatively impact quality or bring unnecessary risk to the project, which in the end will ironically slow you down.
There are no short cuts in life to achieve successful results. You must put in the work, whatever your chosen profession might be. In the development world, being smart about how you approach your work and reviewing and re calibrating the critical path daily, can ultimately be the difference. It should always be a race against time with every second you save adding up to months, if not years over the project life-cycle. Delays also create less obvious impacts, from purchaser confidence through to the ability to raise finance, as no one likes it when plans change, or worst of all missed sunset dates.
It’s also often forgotten that the critical path can and does change rapidly and so there is a need to constantly evaluate, affording you the ability to tack at the right moment, for the right reasons, keeping the proverbial wind in the sails.
The beauty about Safari Group and its operation is the speed at which we move, giving us an advantage in many areas. Being able to turn around laser accurate feasibility studies within a very short time frame, can be the difference between getting a jump on an opportunity that will bring value to our customers and missing out altogether.
We then work extremely hard through the due diligence period to de-risk the project, turning over every stone we can, identifying and working to remove future road blocks with the potential to slow us down. The time-consuming items need to be tackled head on first and foremost. Each project unravels different threats to the programme, and being able to successfully navigate your way around these is skill set that comes from experience. The fact that we have all the necessary tools within our company might be a luxury, and it also helps emphatically to speed up the process.
If you look at Ramada Queenstown Central as an example, we had to pivot multiple times, especially in the early stages with a very complicated resource consent, but taking the painful route up front and choosing to publicly notify, saved us months in the end.
There have been times when some could argue Safari has been moving too fast, like at Wyndham Garden when we almost had a roof on both buildings, yet we didn’t own the underlying land (as a title had not been issued). This effectively prevented a bank drawdown, and ultimately meant more than twice the amount of equity had to be injected into the project than was required. Although, this wasn’t ideal, waiting for titles to be issued would have resulted in a 9 month delay in delivering the valuable investments to our clients. I am not suggesting that everyone should take this approach, and many vendors will not allow it, but this outside the box approach is something that should be considered to advance while others maybe standing still. All options need to be considered, and you must evaluate these decision as you go, always in a timely manner.
There are some projects out there now that continue to miss little deadlines, all of which add up to a serious amount of time, and as we know, time is money. The market and dynamics can change overnight, so being ahead of the 8 ball is critical. Some entities take far too much time at the start and don’t advance with a clear direction in mind. This time is gone, and can never be gained back.
There is one thing that Safari Group will never do, and that is rest on its laurels. We set a clear project vision and direction from the moment we consider a piece of land, then refuse to take the foot off the pedal or finger off the pulse, until code compliance and titles are in hand.
…and then it’s a short breath, regroup and we’re off and racing on the next one
*1: While some developers choose to go back to their purchasers seeking to cover construction cost overruns, Safari has not, and will not ever do this.