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What has changed in project management?

How have things changed over 22 years of project management

MDCI Project Developer celebrated their 22nd Anniversary this year. Since 1999 they have been assisting clients to deliver construction and refurbishment projects in Spain and internationally by offering quality project management services. Over this long history, they have delivered over 100 projects on time and on budget and you can see examples in their project portfolio.

Since 1999 they have seen a lot of changes in construction, legislation and client demands and so we spoke to CEO Mark Lawson to find out what’s changed and what people are looking for now in Spanish property.

How have construction methods changed in the last 22 years?

Construction methods in the South of Spain are still quite old fashioned, in that they use “wet construction” methodologies. Although this benefits from the use of so-called “noble materials”- it is labour intensive. However, internal walls now are mostly done with plasterboards – and not with bricks and overlaid plaster. We actually prefer the latter, due to offering a better-quality finish which lasts longer. We also know that the clientele on the Costa del Sol building or buying properties really appreciates noble materials. It’s a combination of tradition and respect for the Andalusian style and taste, but you will still see a lot of marble, interior tiles and roof tiles, wood etc. incorporated into new build properties and developments.

Innovation in construction is great, but from a project management perspective, tried and tested technology and methods, which we know will last and give our clients the results they want, is often the smarter choice.

We are seeing some off-site construction methods coming in, but not at high volumes. There is also a demand for more sustainable buildings, which is leading to innovation, such as the use of recycled shipping containers as building materials. However, these things have not been widely adopted as yet, but we expect growth in these areas.

How has the legislation changed?

In general, the permits required and the processes for getting them has remained the same. Town Halls have made updates to their urban plans, some successfully others less so. Notably, despite a 2010 update to Marbella’s urban plan, they have been forced to revert back to their 1986 urban plan and are working to introduce a new one in the years ahead.

We’ve seen an increased pressure to comply with EU standards in construction and sustainability, which has improved the standards compared to when we started. This is definitely beneficial for homeowners and buyers, who may have experienced substandard building practices in Spain, but should not experience this with newer properties.

There are more energy efficiency requirements now in place. For example, since 2003 all properties require an Energy Efficiency Certificate to rate how efficient it is. New builds require these, and you must have one before you sell or rent the property. This legislation has led to more energy efficiency methods being built into properties and retrofitted before sale, as higher ratings make the properties more desirable to buyers and tenants.

How have tastes and customer demand changed?

Buyers are influenced by trends in architecture and interiors that they see in the media and in modern properties. Customer demand has also changed in the way families live and work in the home. Over the last decade, the open plan layout has become more popular, with interior and exterior spaces being connected to bring the outside in. Large, floor-to-ceiling windows, high ceilings and infinity pools have become a mainstay for properties, whereas they were rare when we first started in the 1990s.

Modern properties with contemporary designs continue to be in demand, driving new build developments. However, there’s a lot of differences to be found between nationalities in terms of what they want. Spanish buyers tend to like being centrally located and close to the beach and are happy to sacrifice space and modern design for location. Whereas, the Nordics like modern clean lines, but are also very keen on beachfront locations. British buyers are driven by good bathrooms and kitchens, and are happy to drive a bit further.

Recently, due to COVID, people are generally favouring independent housing with adequate outside space. This means that the interest in apartments and townhouses, which at one time were the mainstay of volume sales, has waned. We have also seen an increased demand in home-office spaces since COVID and expect that trend to continue indefinitely now that working from home has become more widespread.

Tell us about one of your first projects and one of your most recent ones and how they compare

Prior to setting up MDCI I worked in 1986 when I completed my first project in Spain. It was a two-year project, which completed in 1988 and was a development of 80 luxury apartments on the seafront in Fuengirola. Called the El Rey Project, it was located opposite Sohail Castle and was for the British developer Sunley Holdings PLC. The development included a swimming pool and parking, apartments with 2-3 bedrooms and large balconies. They sold out in 18 months and they are still very popular today.

There have been so many great projects since then! Following the Fuengirola development, I worked for the American Resort Developer Global Group. I was in charge of the development and timely delivery of two Resorts, in Malaga and Tenerife, which were both huge successes. Then three multinational Branded Resorts for Marriott in Mallorca, Paris and Malaga, all delivered on time and below budgets.

Roll forwards more than two decades and in 2019 we completed a gated community of 18 medium sized, modern villas for the American Fund RCS. These villas had 3 & 4 bedrooms, private gardens and pools, basements, secluded carports and fully equipped kitchens and laundry rooms.

Although they are very different from the apartments we built in the 1980s in many ways such as; benefitting from more secluded and secure living, private outdoor green areas and pools, they also sold out within 18 months. They are both great places to live and use as a holiday home and I’m proud of the quality, workmanship and of course that they were delivered on time and on budget thanks to our project management services.

Thanks for speaking to us Mark and here’s to another 22 years ahead.

If you’d like to discuss how MDCI Project Developer can assist you with your upcoming development or luxury villa, please contact us.

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