Lee Williams has been part of the team at Pathway Homes Group since the company was launched in 2019. As a senior project manager for our housing portfolio, Lee is responsible for project managing the retrofit and development of Pathway’s newly acquired housing stock in a number of regions across the UK, including Devon, Bedfordshire, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire.

0500

I’m almost always up before dawn, but today feels a bit early for a frosty November morning. I’m heading to Grimsby to visit some of our newly acquired properties which need to be fully assessed before we start work on them. We need to determine what development work is necessary so we can give a full and accurate scope of works to our contractors. To ensure we are developing homes which will be optimally matched to their future tenants’ needs, I’ll be doing the rounds in the company of Amanda Trent, one of the managers at Creating Change Housing Management (CCHM), a supported living provider and an organisation we work regularly in close partnership with.

0915

A hundred and ninety miles later, I arrive at our first property in Grimsby. Amanda is already there and in conversation with one of the neighbours. Our first house is in a terrace of late Victorian properties, and first impressions are that it is a decent home but could do with some TLC. There are some easy fixes that are already apparent from the street – double glazing to replace what are probably fairly draughty single glazed windows being the most immediately obvious. As well as improving the appearance of the property, double glazing can significantly improve the energy efficiency of the home. Not only is that better for the environment, it is also much better for the eventual tenant as it will keep their home warmer for longer and help to reduce their energy bills. It also reduces the noise coming in from the street, which isn’t much of an issue on this quiet side road, but can be a real game-changer in a busier part of town.

0945

The tour of the first house is complete. It’s great to have Amanda with me as she has real insight into what kind of space is going to work best for the tenant. CCHM provides housing support for tenants who need a little bit of extra help to maintain a tenancy and thrive in their home and community. Amanda has years of tenant-facing experience in the sector and can guide us on details from room layout to the type and spec of appliances required. As well as talking these details through, I’ve made notes on the boiler (we’ll replace it with a far more energy-efficient model), insulation requirements (the loft will be re-done) fire doors (we need six new doors here), and the bathrooms and kitchens (we’ll fully replace any that aren’t in good to excellent nick).

1540

By now we’ve visited ten properties in Grimsby, the majority of which are good solid terraces, similar to the first. As well as retrofitting these homes to make them as energy-efficient and cheap to run as possible, we will supply full furniture packs for each home to get the property ‘move-in ready’ for the tenant. It’s not rocket science to understand the value of a well-presented and comfortable living space – it’s a basic human need and something we all want and deserve. Each home that Pathway develops is designed around a consistent colour scheme with matching furniture and appliances like fridges, kettles, and microwaves, right down to the bedding, soft furnishings, and towels. It’s important Amanda and I agree what is going on the list now, because it all needs to be checked off during a detailed snagging inspection before we can hand the property over to CCHM. If anything is wrong, missing, or significantly out of place, it just causes unnecessary delays which frustrate everyone. Once we’re agreed on what’s what, it’s time to jump back in the car and head north over the Humber on the A64. Next stop Scarborough.

1745

My day draws to a close at the hotel in Scarborough (we’ll be visiting more properties here tomorrow) and a review of the day’s notes. I’ll need to create a detailed scope of works for each property in Grimsby and work out an appropriate timeline for completion with our contractors. It will vary depending on the scale of the job, but our turnaround time averages out at around 5 weeks per property. I’m on the road a lot – once they’re in development I like to visit all properties on a weekly basis so that I can keep track of progress and get an early handle on any issues. The key to getting things done efficiently is treading that very fine line between not wanting to pile on too much pressure, whilst motivating the team and making sure the project is developed to an agreed deadline. At any given time, I can be working with 10-12 local contracting firms, which adds up to maybe 60-70 lads, so a bit of patience, good people management, and decent communication skills come in handy. Generally speaking though, we’re lucky to have a very decent team. No two days are the same, and to me, the job is at its most enjoyable when all the plates are spinning and we’re working at full steam.