Peter James Homes – The rapid growth of a new regional house builder

Peter James Homes is a Midlands house building success story. Formed just five years ago as a subsidiary of established family owned, civil and electrical engineering firm J McCann & Co, the Nottingham based house builder has progressed from it’s first development of 6 homes in 2013 to acquiring a site for 173 new homes in Ambergate, Derbyshire by United Trust Bank (UTB).

J McCann & Co was formed around 50 years ago by Managing Director John McCann’s father. From fairly humble beginnings, John McCann has built a thriving civil and electrical engineering business delivering major infrastructure projects throughout the UK including supplying and installing road and street lighting, traffic signals, communication systems and various other elements of civil engineering. The company has also provided road and infrastructure services as a subcontractor on residential developments.

Realising that many of the skills and services within J McCann & Co could be transferable to a house building company, John McCann and Simon Gardiner saw an opportunity to establish a new business in the residential development sector and subsequently created Peter James Homes in 2013 with Simon as the Managing Director.

The new company’s first project was a selffunded development of 6 new homes in Ravenshead. These sold quickly and the company went on to acquire a substantially bigger 28 unit site in East Leake as their next build.

Simon Gardiner, picks up the story of how Peter James Homes formed a successful relationship with United Trust Bank which has helped them to grow rapidly.

“When we were first introduced to UTB we had one small, self-funded development under our belts and were part way through building our second, again self-funded using profits from the first build and cash from the business.

Our experience of dealing with development lenders to that point had been somewhat disappointing. Having engaged with several of the High Street banks to discuss future projects we found them to be extremely cautious and inflexible, even bearing in mind the strength of J McCann & Co. They couldn’t see the opportunity we saw for a new house building business.”

Simon continues, “Our dealings with Adam Bovingdon, one of UTB’s Property Development Directors, were the opposite of what we’d experienced from the large lenders. Seeing that we had already committed a considerable amount of our own capital to reach this stage, Adam suggested that UTB would consider not only funding the remainder of the build costs but would release some of the equity tied up in the partially completed site so that we could acquire another site we had our eye on. This positivity and willingness to lend was refreshing. I don’t think many lenders at the time would have offered to support us to that degree, but Adam and UTB were true to their word and very soon after that initial meeting we were able to acquire another site with approval for 91 homes at Giltbrook.”

Adam saw straight away that Peter James Homes was just the sort of house builder UTB wants to support.

“They didn’t have a long track record in residential development, but they had a very professional set up and a strong management team. They also had a thorough understanding of the local market and a demonstrable ability to build high quality homes people wanted to buy. Having many transferable skills from their established parent company was an addedbonus,” said Adam. “We also felt they would really benefit from our involvement, not just financially but also from the knowledge and experience UTB bring to a project. We are keen to contribute to the regeneration of the SME house builder sector and with Peter James Homes we could see from their drive and enthusiasm that they had the potential to grow into a sizeable regional force in a relatively short time. They have proved us right on that.”

Improvements to the infrastructure around Nottingham presented opportunities for investment in new housing which Peter James Homes were now able to take advantage of. The 9-acre, 91 unit development they acquired in Giltbrook comprised a mix of 2-4 bedroomed private homes. Sloping on two sides, the site came with complex challenges in the groundworks. However, they were able to contract the parent company, J McCann & Co which had the necessary skills and experience to overcome the problems and successfully complete over £3.5m of infrastructure and groundworks.

Phase one of the development achieved a strong level of early sales and this prompted them to accelerate their plans for the next phases. Having initially received funding from UTB for the first phase, Simon returned to the Bank for additional funding and approval was quickly given to increase the facility.

“The close relationship we have with Adam and the team is very important to us” explains Simon. “We can always get them on the phone, they know us straight away so we don’t have to explain ourselves every time we get in contact and they make credit decisions swiftly. From my experience, dealing with many development lenders is hard work. With UTB it’s an absolute pleasure.”

Having established a strong relationship mduring the first two UTB funded developments, Peter James Homes have gone on to secure further sites which will keep them busy for several years to come.

“As well as funding the Giltbrook development” explains Simon, “we have also purchased a new site at Bestwood for 48 homes and one in Gedling which will provide a further 14 high quality homes; all with the help of UTB. We’ve also just completed the acquisition of a 22 acre site with planning for 173 new homes which we’ll start work on in Q2 2019.”

In the last year UTB has expanded its development finance team and now has more originators looking after more house builders in more areas of the England and Wales than ever before. The Bank is keen to offer funding and its team’s own style of personal service, to house builders and developers looking to take advantage of hotspots in the residential market.

Adam explains why UTB is reaching out to regional house builders despite the residential property market, and the wider economy, looking somewhat uncertain: “We’re a through the cycle lender with experience of all manner of property markets.

It’s vital that SME house builders continue to receive financial support from lenders who understand the ups and downs and can adapt to changing circumstances. UK wide house price indices paint a fairly grim picture at the moment, if you only look at the headline figures, but they bely the fact that there are parts of the country, and even individual developments, where there’s a really strong demand from buyers. We’re always happy to support house builders who can demonstrate that they’re capable of building great quality homes in the right places and for the right prices and have a desire to grow their businesses. House builders like Peter James Homes.”