WHY PROPERTY INVESTORS SHOULD START SKETCHING MORE?

 

We all know that property investing is all about opportunity recognition: who spots the best way to add value to a property before buying it, wins the game!

Sketching helps you to come up with ideas that can really increase the value of your next investment. Ideas that probably you didn’t realized where possible, until you had a pen in your hand.

Who said that sketching is only for Architects and Designers? Anyone with a little bit of creativity can become good in doing quick sketches and brainstorm ideas on a piece of paper. This can include a quick drawing showing a change of use of an existing plan, a rear extension, a loft conversion or a new build. Furthermore, sketching can help you communicating with your power team, making your own indications clearer to your Architect, Builder, Engineer etch…

 

DO YOU PREFER TO SKETCH THE OLD WAY OR THE NEW WAY?

I personally prefer to use a tablet as it make it easier to brainstorm more ideas, store the drawings and furthermore, it allows you to sketch on top of the pictures you take of the property. In that way you will not have to spend time drawing the whole building, but you can sketch straightaway on top of the image of the property, keeping size and proportions. If you are using a tablet, I highly recommend you to download an app called Procreate, which is basically a Photoshop for tablet. It costs around £3, but it worth it!

If you are sketching the old way, all you need is a pen, a piece of paper, a rubber and some colors. Many people find it more stimulating for the mind as they feel the sensation of the paper and the pressure of the pen.

WHEN SHOULD I SKETCH?

There are two separate moments in which you should take couple of minutes to sketch around your property purchase idea:

During the site visit: a quick drawing on a piece of paper while you are vising the property, can stimulate a lot your imagination and let you come out with an idea that can really help you identifying a way to make more money on the property turn around. The site visit is a really precious moment, because that’s when you really feel the site, the proportions, the light and when you are potentially inspired by the space.

After the site visit: when you are back home or to your office is the moment to reorganize your ideas and do a little more research on what is achievable. I usually give the Council a call to ask them what they think about my design ideas and whether they are achievable considering the local planning regulation. I then combine the outcome of the call with some desktop research, looking for other alterations happened on the street which can constitute a precedence for the development I have in mind. After collecting enough information, I go back to the drawings and I refine them, trying to incorporate all the indications I accumulated during my research. The outcome of this work is a set of sketches which you can use to send over to your power team to ask for feedback. This is going to save you a lot of time as is much better than writing long emails. Property is visual!!

 

WHAT SHOULD I SKETCH?

The example below shows a quick sketch we did on site for a client. The sketch has been done using a tablet + Procreate ( the App I mentioned above ) and has the purpose of studying different options of extension at the back of the property. We came out with 4 different ideas and different sizes of development. Each one of them adds different levels of value to the property and has different pros and cons.

In this way had been extremely easy to explain our client which where the main options available, and this lead us to choose the one to go for in a shorter amount of time.

THE MINDSET BEHIND PROPERTY SKETCHING

When sketching you always need to remember to keep your head connected to your hand. To design a potential development, is not just a creative process, but is also and most of all a thinking process. That means that whatever you are sketching needs to make sense and have a logical pattern. You are not designing a Picasso! For this reason the sketching process must follow a series of steps during which more and more information are implemented and the idea becomes more and more realistic. The inputs that make the sketch more complete can come from your power team, the council and your personal desktop research.

Before sketching, you need to have a clear understanding of the problem you are solving. In the case of a property subject to study, it can be related to minimum room sizes, presence of natural illumination, minimum ceiling heights and the circulation inside the property. Is important to keep a practical approach while sketching a new layout or elevation because sooner or later you will need to include the planning and building regulation.

A good practice is to add notes to your drawing ( as shown below ), the more notes the better. Adding notes enriches the amount of information available. Thanks to the notes is going to be easier for you to communicate an idea to people you are working with.

COMMUNICATION WITH YOUR POWER TEAM

Often investors forget that a good portion of the members of their power team, are visual people and are used to communicate via images. Property itself is really boring and difficult to understand if explained in a long email. Doing a sketch is game changing, because you are giving a shape to your vision and suddenly people start following you more. Especially when you are communicating with your Architect, Builder and Engineer, try to share with them sketches as well as emails. You will see how easier will be to communicate and improve the workflow.

Is also a good practice to do mark-ups on the drawings of the Architect, Builder or Engineer. Mark-ups are extremely effective to point out issues that need to be solved.

 

RECAP: WHICH ARE THE BENEFITS OF SKETCHING?

  • Increase your opportunity recognition skill
  • Improves the communication with your power team
  • Great for brainstorming ideas and collaborating with team members.
  • Defines a thinking process and stresses some ideas
  • Helps evaluate the feasibility of features and eliminate layout and functionality issues.

 

CONCLUSION

Sketching is a powerful process to use because it always helps discover the best ideas, stimulating your mind to think outside the box. In property investing this could mean to spot a development opportunity that no one else saw before. Another crucial benefit of the sketch is to use it as a communication tool with your power team. You will see the number of misunderstandings reducing enormously together with the amount of energies dedicated to explain a concept, making the workflow of your team much more efficient.

Thank you for reading, hope this was helpful to you. Looking forward to see some of your great sketches!

Feel free to leave a comment below.

Regards, Giovanni

Architect Director