Founded in 2005 by Steve Howat and Nick Stuttard, super-prime construction company London Projects have quickly gained a reputation as true specialists in the build and refurbishment of London’s finest homes.
"We started the business on-site, sharing a laptop, and we have grown steadily over the last 12 years," Nick says, "with no external investors or borrowings, we have delivered over 200 projects since starting the company, we now have 40 members of staff in our Westminster Head Office and engage over 150 people on-site. We focus on the super-prime residential market because we believe in sticking to what we enjoy, what we know, and fundamentally what we are best at."
Talking about why they set up the company, Steve explains, "we worked on a number of projects together and quickly realised it takes a special kind of company to be dealing in this type of construction, particularly in Central London. This is because there are so many logistical problems to overcome – more so than you would have in other areas because most properties are in very close proximity to one another, plus our clients and their neighbours have exacting standards and incredibly high expectations."
Nick agrees, "It's such a niche market, if you upset people then word spreads pretty quickly and so it’s not only about keeping your client happy but the local community too."
The Chester Square project (pictures below) was an 8,000 sq ft Grade II listed property, in central Belgravia – a main house with a mews house at the rear. The mews wasn’t listed so they demolished then rebuilt it, adding another floor, a roof terrace on the back and linked it to the main house. It was completed in December 2016, and sold in 2017 for £25 million. "It took 60 weeks to complete and was a challenge because even though we were digging in the mews, we weren’t allowed to use the mews for access, so everything had to come through the main house. Being listed, there were a number of features inside the property that we had to retain – cornices, architraves, doors." Nick is keen to explain.
Key to the whole process is their client focused approach, Steve tells us; "you’ll find a lot of contractors will find a problem, cross their arms and refuse responsibility. We’ll think of a bunch of solutions, go back to the design team saying, “Hey here’s a problem here’s what we think will work”. We absolutely understand it’s collaboration that fosters such strong and trusting relationships."
There are always challenges when starting up a construction business and Nick puts this down to the requirement for incredibly high standards; which is essential given the market they are operating in. "The challenge is about making sure the guys on the ground – the tradesmen – are up to those exacting standards as well. To ensure this happens, we have our own in-house resourcing managers who filter all the applications that we receive."
The team structure for each project is rigorous, every job is overseen by a project director, which is Steve or Nick, and alongside a commercial director who looks after the financial side of things. The projects have a full-time project manager, a quantity surveyor and a site manager with a team of tradesmen alongside them. There is a sizeable infrastructure on each and every job and their central office location means they can get to most of their projects within 30 minutes, a service quite rare in the construction market.
Tregunter Road, Chelsea (pictures above), currently on the market with Strutt & Parker (poa), is a seven storey townhouse situated in The Boltons conservation area. The house features a lower ground and two floors below that, it has a car lift that goes down three stories from street level, an underground swimming pool, steam room, sauna, and staff accommodation. Projects vary in time and length but a property of this size, around 8,000 to 10,000 sq ft, will typically take around 60 weeks.
"This one was delivered to schedule and completed a few months ago; it’s now on the market for a sizeable sum. We are very proud of the end result. A large part of our success is about keeping clients really happy. They will let you know if they are not happy. It is important because when they are holding a dinner party in their newly refurbished home and a friend asks, ‘Who did you use,’ the desired scenario is they recommend us."
With their own in-house mechanical team of plumbers and electricians, London Projects encourage people to join them at college level to undertake apprenticeships. In addition to this they are members of the Chartered Institute of Building and encourage all their project managers and quantity surveyors to obtain the recognised accreditations.
Nick and Steve have created a recipe for success; "We are relatively fortunate that we work in a niche market, which has not been as adversely affected by shifts in the economy as other sectors. We are of the opinion though that the best companies will always be busy, and will not be affected by the economic forecast as much. Aside from this, having the right workforce is critical to delivery – you are only as good as your last job, particularly in this field. Also, we understand the difficulties working on listed buildings having delivered many projects on the Cadogan, Grosvenor and Crown Estate. The projects need to be impeccably managed and delivered to an incredibly high standard, which is why we recruit the best in the business to deliver."
Their proudest moment came when their second project sold for over a million pounds in 2006. "It was a benchmark moment for us; at the time we didn't have an office, we had very limited resources but still managed to win and deliver this project."
There are famous clients, celebrities and royal households that London Projects have worked for, but understandably they are tied up with non- disclosure agreements; "some of those are pretty spectacular but of course you will have to take our word on that!" Nick smiles. "It's great to get to know our clients and build genuine relationships. We often get invited to their weddings, their children’s weddings and even christenings. We clearly build bonds with our clients and they trust us with one of their biggest assets. If you deliver well for them, that trust only grows deeper." Steve adds.
So what does the future hold for London Projects? Nick is confident in his answer; "We would like to continue the way we have been going and grow the company steadily, remaining committed to residential refurbishment. We started off with apartments and now we mainly work on large townhouses and listed properties – who knows where the super prime residential market will take us."
We are extremely excited to know and will follow their progress in eagerness!
For more information about London Projects visit their website www.londonprojects.co.uk