"I need to find an architect!"
That was me after pretty much any viewing where the property needed a bit of work. I was convinced that the refurbishment would require a full squad of professionals: architects, structural engineers, planning consultants, and anyone else who had more experience in property than I did (which felt like pretty much everyone back then)
Property investing can feel so big and confusing and I didn't want to mess anything up, so I just assumed I would need to spend big bucks on lots of specialists and experts. Well, you know what happens when you assume...
I didn't have a money fountain. And even if I did, should I be showering it on experts?
That is a question that comes up a lot with my coaching clients. They are often so overwhelmed (as I was when I started) about the prospect of buying and refurbishing a property, that they think they need to hire expert after expert to get it right.
But the thing is you don't; not always.
The key is to hire the right experts at the right time.
This is something that you learn with experience, but you can also talk to other investors who have done what you want to do and get a sanity check before you start writing checks.
Many typical refurbishments don't require consultants. Often, a good contractor will know what to do and how to do it without an architect's drawings (depending on the size and complexity of the project), and will bring in a structural engineer or building control when necessary. Each project will be different.
This is true for all aspects of property investing, not just refurbishment. For example, for most transactions, a basic conveyancing solicitor will serve you just fine, other times you'll need to go to a specialist who has experience doing the type of transaction you are doing (lease options are a perfect example of when you need to use a specialist with experience).
For most transactions, a good whole-of-market mortgage broker will do the trick. But other times you'll need to work with a specialist (things like commercial lending and bridging finance come to mind). Each type of lending will require a broker who has good relationships with those types of lenders, and very rarely will the same broker be able to find great "vanilla" mortgages and great specialist lending options, too.
So, do your due diligence. Get as smart as you can about what you do/don't need for each project, and then make sure the person you are working with or planning to work with has the right experience and expertise required for the type of deal you are doing. Don't shy away from paying for specialist advice, but be equally careful not to pay for advice that might be "overkill.”
You could waste a lot of time and money paying for specialists you don't need and waste potentially even more time and money not paying for specialists you do need. It's a fine balance, and there are no hard and fast rules because every property and project is different. When people ask me which specialist they need to engage and when, my answer is always "It depends."
So when in doubt, talk to someone who has done the type of project you are doing (or better yet, talk to a few someones) and see which specialists they used and why. And when you then speak to a specialist, ask them to explain or justify why you need to use them. (Often, the good ones will turn you away if they don't think you need them, and you'll know right away they are someone you can probably trust because they don't just see you as a cash machine.)
Do your due diligence, speak to people who have done it before, and use the right experts at the right time