Wayne Butterfield is a Director at Solvgrin Ltd and Graycliffe Homes, which has has built homes all over Yorkshire and also in America.
How did you end up working in property? It’s in the genes. As a family business, there was always building talk around the table. From an early age we learned that hard work reaps rewards. I recall regularly visiting sites with my father and being shown the difference between good and bad brickwork, joinery and plastering. It’s so much easier and cost effective to produce good work the first time, rather than having to correct poor workmanship.
How is the market for land faring? Land availability is difficult, and costs are still at a premium. Large building companies sit on massive land banks for many years and produce “rubber stamp” designs, but as a small company we look in areas that are not viable for them. We are able to pay more attention to detail, deliver generous specifications, and create something special.
What are the biggest issues for developers? The time it takes to obtain planning consent. Sometimes it feels that planners are looking for reasons to refuse, rather than approve. A consistent policy and mandate around the region could be put in place to aid a smoother planning system, which would enable companies to forward plan work schedules, finance and future projects. Continuity is so important, the inconsistency of levies like social housing quotas and CIL contributions should be considered, and possibly set by Government, as opposed to local councils. These levies all have to be absorbed within development costs, which ultimately affects the resale cost of housing.
If you were the Minister for Housing, what would you do? Look closely at Help to Buy and Buy to Let. HTB was initially intended as a shot in the arm to boost housing production, but sadly this scheme is open for abuse and manipulation. Meanwhile, investors are being penalised to create tax revenues, but they
are an important part of the housing chain. Brownfield sites in small towns should also be looked at. Our high streets are dying and regeneration in these areas should be encouraged. Releasing unused public land or land stuck in land banks needs to be addressed.
What are the best things about working in property? Standing back to look at your completed project and knowing that every person has given their best. I always ask myself if would I want to live or work in one of the buildings we have developed – and the answer is always yes. The worst has to be the freezing cold, wet wintry dark days on site - why does it always rain on concrete delivery days?
Where is your ideal home? I love the peace of Longboat Key, Florida and of course, Yorkshire.