Swapping the classroom for the building site, teacher-turned-property developer Sarah Corrie-Pearce has put her passion for property and people at the forefront of her first major development.
Her successful conversion of 119 Columbus Ravine, a large old guesthouse in Scarborough, into three high-spec two-bedroom apartments has required the new developer to overcome many challenges, personal and professional.
"It's been continuous crisis management where even the best laid plans have struggled to fall into place," said Sarah. "It's really been one thing after another to get the job done."
Fortunately, Sarah has been able to fall back on the support of her team of Immerse Kitchens and Bathrooms, Egan Quantity Surveying, Your Investment Our Priority and Infiniti Construction & Roofing. With their expertise Sarah has adapted the redevelopment as it took shape allowing her to fully realise her vision for Columbus Ravine.
In the second floor apartment her team had to think on their feet as Sarah decided to create a larger living space for the kitchen and living-room, which meant the unplanned removal of an old bedroom wall.
"Then when we took another wall back to the brick it revealed a structural problem with short lintels which meant we had to replace the lintels and strengthen the wall. It's been one thing after another," she laughs.
One of the biggest obstacles to fully realising Sarah's vision has been overcoming the tired old look of the building from the outside where the legacy of numerous waste pipes from the old guestrooms was only too obvious.
With the waste pipes now removed, the three apartments have been rendered a homely buttermilk colour which contrasts nicely with the sharp lines of the new anthracite window frames.
"It's been a lot of perseverance for us to get this far but it's helped us to create a really prominent detached block. Let's face it, if I wouldn't live in it why should anyone else have to?
"I've always just gone with the flow but you need the hide of a rhino to succeed in this!"
You also need passion, and Sarah has clearly got that in spades in a story where her enthusiasm for her new career and the people she works shines out bright and clear.
"You know what, we've done all this together in the time of Covid, in the middle of a pandemic - taking a run down, tired, lovely old Scarborough property six months ago and turning it into something for the 21st Century.
"It does actually feel like a Cinderella story."
Another key attribute Sarah is bringing to the property party is professionalism and ambition at the heart of her Sourced Scarborough business, which covers an area from Whitby to Hull.
She was attracted to the Sourced franchise model because of its structured, no-nonsense peer-to-peer platform that allows property developers to fund projects and investors to become armchair investors with a fully transparent route for their return on investment.
With Columbus Ravine valued at £180,000 and development costs of £85,000, Sarah was able to cover most of the £265,000* through investors at Sourced who will receive an investment return of between 10% and 12%**.
With all three refurbished apartments now sold to a single investor Sarah is looking for her next projects.
"I’m attracted to tired, unloved buildings that I can breathe a new lease of life into. I expect to find similar types of property in the Scarborough area where properties are relatively undervalued compared to the capital growth that has distinguished buildings in nearby Whitby and York. I’d love to do a barn, old church or another guesthouse conversion.
"Property investors are always searching for the right kind of property in the right location at the right price, but the region's property market is also now being supported by the Covid stimulated increase in holiday staycations. That's something I'm keenly aware of and would like to access.
"I love Scarborough, I grew up here and despite moving away, it’s the place I’ve always called home. I’m excited to be part of the regeneration.”
Property development has been a dramatic but welcome career change for the former English and Drama teacher who was on staff at what is now Ebor Academy Filey for ten years and who also taught in Egypt and Spain.
"I love to throw myself into new challenges and being part of Sourced gave me the opportunity to work in an industry I am passionate about. Property for me isn’t about bricks and mortar, it’s about people. I love helping people achieve financial freedom through property."
Building relationships with property professionals has also given Sarah the opportunity to create a network of trusted, professional and experienced contractors including Warrington-based Immerse Kitchens and Bathrooms.
Immerse is owned by Chris Hill, current England International & Warrington Wolves rugby league prop forward, who supplied all the kitchens and bathrooms for 119 Columbus Ravine.
In Chris, Sarah has found a kindred spirit, as the England and Great Britain international got into plumbing when he left Leigh in 2012 to join Warrington, training two nights a week for three years on a course partly funded by the Rugby League.
"I've always had an eye to the future," says Chris, 33, whose Warrington testimonial match was on March 19th, "as it's just one bad tackle and your career's over."
Sarah and Chris had an instant rapport after being introduced by her quantity surveyor, Stewart Egan of Egan Quantity Surveying.
Sarah added: “Being introduced to Chris has been the icing on the cake and it’s proved invaluable working with him and his team to enable me to expand the specification and finish whilst working within the budget.”
And in working with Scarborough's Infinti Construction & Roofing, Sarah has found another close local collaborator.
“Infiniti, and particularly Marcus Rowe, have been amazing. The quality of workmanship and expertise is very evident," she said.
“Finding the right team, building those relationships and being able to trust the people around me is paramount in this business. I have been very fortunate in working with some incredible people like Marcus, Stewart, Chris and Neil Street-Bailey, my project manager, and I know all these partnerships will continue on my future projects.”