This is something I have been asked a lot over the years, whether it be from potential clients we have been doing building work for or from aspiring property developers 

Since 2012 BlackOak has been transforming period property into contemporary creations. The key to this has always been working sympathetically with the existing property. By taking care to enhance and magnify any original period features, often it can show them in a new light

Sometimes, years of renovation have removed anything of significant architectural merit. Otterhead House was a victim of this. When we got there in 2017, not a lot was left in the way of original period features. It was refurbished in the 1950s, at which time, I suspect the original A- frame roof trusses were replaced along with fireplaces and anything with any age. These were replaced with state of the art, cutting edge, super trendy and modern 1950s tat (that’s not a technical term but if you had seen what got pulled out it would make complete sense)

When facing a situation like this, where you have a beautiful 250-300 year old solid stone structure, people will often ask the above question “what is the one BIG thing I can do to give this property WOW factor”

Unfortunately, this is completely the wrong way to look at the situation. Essentially what they are trying to do is fast track the result by looking for a short term solution to a long term feature

Instead, if one steps back, takes a bit of time to think then the solution is obvious. You see when you look at a property like Burghley House in the picture above, you cannot help but be impressed and go WOW. When this property was designed and built in the 16th century the architect and craftsman, would not have even considered such a question. Instead, they would have asked “how can we do the best possible job, how can we create something that will astound people and leave them breathless for years to come, what do we need to do to make this spectacular”. As such, huge amounts of care, attention and focus were put into even the smallest details. Often care and attention would be put into features that are not even obvious

In today’s society, the main key performance indicators in the building industry seem to be;

1- how quickly can it be done

2- how much money does it make

Little to no thought or care is given to the long term future of the workmanship

That’s the big difference, I believe, in what creates genuine WOW factor. It’s about the detail of thought that is put in, not just for the potential payday but for the long term. If one can get into the mindset of thinking about what they create today, and how it will look, feel and operate in 20-30 years, it changes the dynamic. One starts thinking, not just of todays fashion, or current fad but for things that will be timeless

When we look back at period property that is still making people go WOW, over 200 years since it was first created, it’s never the one big thing. Instead, it’s all the small little bits of attention to detail that run consistently throughout. This of course takes time, consideration, and extra thought

At BlackOak, when doing building work, I would always say to people working with us, that it was often the unconscious cues that gave the feeling of something being amazing. An example of this is the slotted screwheads on hinges. Always ensuring that every screw head has the slot facing exactly vertical. It’s unlikely that the average person will walk in and go “WOW would you look at that, every single screw head is vertical”, most will never even notice. The unconscious mind, however, will notice little cues like this. When in conjunction with consistent, seemingly insignificant details running throughout, the person will say “WOW, this place has a real feeling of quality”

If you are interested in all things property development, then I have launched a FREE (yes you heard correct) mini course.

By the end of the course, you will be able to;

  1. Understand how to minimise risk with your first property investment
  2. Point out what REALLY adds value to any property renovation
  3. Maximise the end sale price of your first investment property so you don’t leave any money on the table
  4.  Get yourself in the perfect position to invest in your first property. 

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Thanks for taking the time to read this, as always, I welcome any feedback?


George B 🙂


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