A Day in the Life of a Project Developer.

Many people ask us what a Project Developer does and why they are an important part of any construction project, big or small. As they are involved with so many things, have so many different roles from the beginnings of a project through to completion, and can turn their hand to so many issues depending on the project, we wanted to explain what skills they need and take you through an average day, to help you better understand their role.

What does a project developer in Spain do on a daily basis?

To drill down further into what a Project Developer does, we asked our CEO Mark Lawson to take us through an average day. Mark has more than 27 years of international property development experience and was a board member of RICS and a founding member of the Spanish Association of Project Management for Professionals. He was educated both in Spain and in the UK, so is bilingual and able to have a local understanding, along with international business expertise and work ethics. This is why he is so well placed to be able to advise and support his clients, and show us what it means to be a project developer in Spain. Over to you Mark!

“I always start my day by reading the latest news – both international and local. This allows me to be aware of potential issues with the supply chain, financing or staff and also stay up-to-date with any pending legislation changes or international economic opportunities or developing problems.

We’ll then bring the team together to discuss our on-going projects and organise the next steps and set up structures and processes for managing deadlines and deliverables. This is an opportunity for our team to flag up any delays or potential issues and enable us to make suggestions and find solutions to any problems that may be on the horizon.

Every week we meet with the technical team, which includes our real estate project managers,  the architect, technical architect, engineers, constructor and any specialist suppliers of a specific development. At these meetings we go through deadlines, receive updates from all parties, get a status report and identify any issues to be tackled. These weekly meetings are crucial to project supervision in Marbella and ensure the process is well managed.

I will also meet with the client to update them on the status of their project and any potential issues to be resolved. Face-to-face updates are great when they are possible, but we can also have these meetings via Zoom or Teams, or over the phone with international clients.

In addition to these meetings, we also produce detailed monthly status reports on each and every development that we are responsible for monitoring or managing, so part of every day is spent producing these reports.

I will also usually need to review pre-feasibility documents and feedback to clients that I am offering project consulting services to. An expert eye on these documents is very much needed to make sure everything has been included and considered, and offer an experienced review on the accuracy and the feasibility of these projects before more investment of time or money is required.

Then I’m usually on the road again. I could be visiting land as a potential investment on behalf of the fund managers in order to evaluate potentials, costs and schedule and feed back to them. I could also be meeting with the Town Hall regarding planning issues of a development.

Regular contact and good communication with the Town Halls and a clear understanding of the processes and legislations enables us to best negotiate solutions on behalf of our client and get things moving. I will often be meeting with potential suppliers for our project and selecting the right one for the job, as well as negotiating terms and conditions to ensure they are as favourable as possible for the client.

Once I’m back in the office I will hit the phones and emails, this could be to chase up an architect regarding licenses application and securing approvals for the project. It could also be advising real estate colleagues on queries regarding a development they are trying to sell, or advising a client on the parameters of what’s offered.

As we are Project Developers internationally, I will also take the opportunity to have conference calls with investors and/or vendors of land in South America, Morocco or Europe. These conference calls are vital to ensure we have all the information our client needs to complete the investment and make the process run as smoothly as possible.

Finally, I will try and squeeze in a Zoom Seminar, or professional training session to find out any trends or developments in the industry, deepen my knowledge or improve certain skills which pertain to current and future projects and ensure I always have the right information to hand.

My days are full, varied and usually intense, but definitely never boring! I really enjoy being able to help my clients and see the finished project delivered on time and on budget.”

What are the main skills a Project Developer needs?

Project Developers have to be highly organised, detail orientated and excellent people managers. They also need to be able to anticipate problems before they arise and take the right steps to stop them from occurring. A great project developer and manager needs to have the right combination of pragmatism and empathy, so they understand and empathise with the issues of all parties involved in the project, yet have the skills and logical approach to focus on getting the work done. They are also inspiring and motivating leaders that people want to work for and are committed to.

They have to be experienced in every aspect of how a project should run, from finance, budgeting and supplier search, all the way through to delivery and understand the roles of all of the contractors and skilled workmen in-between. Only by having many projects under their belts and seeing them through from start to finish, can they foresee potential problems before they have an impact on the timeline and/or budget.

They need to be as comfortable with the process of luxury villa development as with large scale residential and commercial developments. They also need to have the right people working with them and a multitude of connections with financing organisations, trusted contractors and suppliers and much more, to ensure they have reliable people to call on at all stages of a project.

Project developers are excellent communicators and are as comfortable dealing with CEOs, Judges and important people within the Town Halls, as they are with builders, plumbers and electricians. You will often see them chatting to people within the Town Halls who grant permits to build, or process the papers that enable a project to move on to the next step. Having strong contacts where they need it, definitely helps to oil the wheels and speed things up.

They are also experts at written communications of all kinds, be that a feasibility study at the very beginning of a project, or the monthly reports which keep the clients up to speed. They can scrutinise contracts and ensure that they serve the interests of their clients and also put together watertight contracts. Having a good contract is so important that MDCI have developed their own contract to ensure they can best protect the interests of their clients at every stage of the project.

Last, but definitely by no means least, they are very comfortable with numbers and expert at budgets. This enables them to work with clients to develop initial budgets, or quickly see whether there will be a financial shortfall in an existing budget. They will ensure their clients get the best possible deal and that every euro is spent in the best possible way. Many times, they are called in as part of project rescue packages, to revise budgets, renegotiate and enable the project to be completed. MDCI support clients who are making a property investment in Spain with a strategic analysis of the proposition and crunch the numbers to make sure it’s a rock-solid opportunity.

Being a project developer in Spain and anywhere in the world is a tough job, but a really rewarding one too. Project developers get the satisfaction of seeing a project through from being a business idea, or a dream of building their own villa, and help their clients make that vision a reality. They are able to take the stress out of building a villa or bringing a large-scale development to completion. They are problem solvers and because they’ve pretty much seen it all before, they can handle issues without stress and without impacting the timeline. The result of all of this is happy customers and a feeling of satisfaction.

How to best use a project developer?

We hope that this article helps you see the vital role that a project developer plays in any successful development. Now we wanted to answer the question about when you need them and how to best use them.

Our advice would be right from the beginning, as they can add the most value if they are involved at the inception. MDCI has two decades of experience undertaking project feasibility on the Costa del Sol and this is definitely the first time you’d want to involve your project developer. They will help you to have total confidence that your project will deliver as a business proposition and a strong investment, and work with you to develop a realistic and accurate budget. Once you have these things in place, MDCI will be responsible for your project supervision in Marbella, Morocco, South America, or any part of Europe. Ongoing project monitoring, weekly meetings with the technical team and monthly status reports is so valuable to keeping you up-to-date and in the loop without stress and without getting in the way of your own busy life.

To find out more about how MDCI Project Developer can help you please visit our website or contact us to arrange a meeting to discuss your project and your needs. Mark and the team look forward to hearing from you!


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