In August 2006 I took an unusual path for someone with a degree in Economics when I took up a position as a labourer for a small building company based on the Surrrey/West Sussex border.
This decision to change direction was easy to make as the thought of commuting to the city each day for a lifetime of office politics didn't have me chomping at the bit. Self employment was my ultimate goal and I was eager to carry as many bricks and roof tiles and shovel as much concrete and sand as was needed to get me there.
It was a long way from excel spreadsheets but having the chance to create something tangible was very satisfying.
The fact that property costs rather a lot of money hadn't passed me by either. When big numbers are involved and leverage applied via borrowed money, small improvements can add significant sums of money. Of course, repairs and mistakes can also cost a lot of money so it helps to know how things should be done, how long things should take and how much things should cost.
After eighteen months of inquisitive hard work for that building firm I had been exposed to every stage of the building process from the first spade in the ground to the final lick of paint.
Although none of this experience was necessary to forge ahead with a career in property investment, when you lack much initial capital to get going, it helps to have practical knowledge so that you can spot a bargain rather than a money pit.
Having these skills also helped keep costs down in the early days whilst I built up capital.
Sixteen years on and after lots of patience, thought and hard work I have managed to turn theory into reality having created equity through careful acquisitions and well thought out improvements.
The main characteristic of these developments has been the creation of contemporary interiors in traditional buildings ensuring lots of natural light.
For properties held and not sold, being continually recognised as achieving the highest possible maintenance standards is a priority.