The day-to-day running of an estate

Private Property South Africa
Private Property Reporter

Andrew Thompson, director of development for eLan Property Group, gives Afternoon Express an inside look at the day-to-day running of an estate and what goes on behind-the-scenes.

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Presenter: Welcome back to Win a Home on Afternoon Express on SABC3. Now on this series of Win a Home, we featured some of the most beautiful and pristine estates around South Africa. But there's a lot of work that goes into running these estates behind the scenes and ensuring that everything goes according to plan. Today, we have Andrew Thompson, director of development for eLan Property Group, in studio to give us a behind-the-scenes look at the day-to-day running of an estate. Welcome to our loft.

Andrew Thompson: Thanks very much, Dan. Great to be here.

Presenter: Andrew, so let's first unpack your story.

Q: I mean, tell us more of what you do because I've never actually heard of a position like this. And it's a really exciting position to be in. Andrew Thompson: Dan, yeah, I've been with the eLan Property Group for around about 12 years now. I come from a hospitality background, working through various hotels in Southern Africa. And with that expertise, joined the property development company, the eLan Property Group, based in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. And we've had the opportunity to develop with WBHO an estate called Simbithi Eco-Estate and Blythedale Coastal Estate, just north of Durban.

Presenter: So very beautiful. What does it mean to develop an estate?

Q: I mean, are you high-level thinking about the ideas of these estates, or does an investor come to you and say, "I want to build an estate. What are your ideas?" How does it all work?

Andrew Thompson: Our plan is to go out and to find land in key destinations to create new destinations where people will travel to to go reside. And gated communities, like Simbithi Eco-Estate, like Blythedale Coastal Estate, they're catalytic by nature, large-scale developments. An example of Blythedale Coastal Estate is 1,000 hectares, 3 kilometers of coastline, 320 hectares of indigenous forest, and a beautiful destination, great weather, and unlocking around about 4,000 housing opportunities. So the back end of it is really about estate management. As you go through your zoning processes, you appoint your professional teams. You create the vision of what the development's going to be and how it's going to be created and eventually get to a point where you launch out into the market space and launch and gather momentum into sales on the development itself.

Presenter: To be honest, it sounds almost quite corporate in sort of the way that it's set up because you have to consider all these different elements. But it's always about the person that's going to be living there. I think it's a very important part of your job, is to consider who's going to be living there. And it might be me. It might one of our viewers who gets to win this home. And they're always considering, what kind of lifestyle do I want? So how do you go about preventing or ensuring that the person that's going to live on the estate gets a lifestyle that they love and enjoy without feeling like they're confined and restricted to all of these different boundaries?

Andrew Thompson: I think, certainly, we've moved and advanced in terms of how estates were done historically. We look at lifestyle opportunities internal to the estate. So it's not just purely about security. It's not just purely about the vision and the quality of the gatehouse. What's very key is the internal offering. So we look at community centers. We look at country clubs. We do look at golf. We look at mountain biking, trail running facilities. But you want to ensure that there's a safe and secure environment that people live in.

Presenter: One thing that is also really important to consider is the person managing that estate.

Q: I mean, who is that person, and should we really consider them when it comes to living on an estate?

Andrew Thompson: Absolutely. I think the estate manager or the appointment of that estate manager is absolutely key. They play a role of being the municipal manager or the mayor of the city [laughter] as such.

Q: Do they knock on your door, and bring cookies and things, and introduce you to their family?

Andrew Thompson: If they're really good, they will do that, most certainly. But I think the estate manager of today, especially on the large-scale volume developments like we do, you could start attracting facilities management companies. You could look at hospitality groups in order to play that role. It's really critical that the estate manager, whoever is overseeing the estate, obviously carries your brand well and ensures what is promised through that estate living is the quality and the lifestyle that you as an end user are wanting to partake in.

Q: How does it all work behind the scenes on a day-to-day basis with these estates?

Andrew Thompson: I think there are quite a few chimneys in terms of-- call it the departments within the estate. And those departments are absolutely critical. So levy collection in order to attract the revenues, the financial management of the estate is absolutely critical. Administration, operational management, maintenance, and even more so today, conservation and how you manage the conservation aspect of the estate. A lot of the estates are moving towards eco, green living environment. We're looking at cashless societies. We're looking at keyless societies. We're looking at doing developments where there's frictionless access into the estate. So that does come back to security, but I think this conservation side of things is absolutely critical: how you manage the fauna, the flora, the small game species internal to your environment and how the people living on that estate can actually enjoy the living with these small game species surrounding our own properties.

Presenter: I love that. Because as an end user, I would definitely want to make sure that that's what you're considering. I mean, as much as I'm in it for the security, and all the facilities, and the perfectly run, pristine grasses or whatever it might be, I'm really interested in those sort of things. It makes it personal to who I am as an individual. So there's so much going on behind the scenes. I mean, excuse me. I've got terrible puns half the time, always. And so it sounds like a really busy estate of affairs [laughter].

Andrew Thompson: It certainly is.

Presenter: Thanks for all of your advice today. So there you have it. It's clearly a lot of work that goes into keeping an estate pristine and running. It's the estate of affairs, as you know.

One of the most pristine and well-run estates in South Africa is the Eye of Africa Estate, and on this season of Win a Home, you stand a chance of winning a beautiful home on this estate.

All you have to do is log onto privateproperty.co.za and answer a very easy question.

Now after the break, I take a look at the progress that each of our Design Duos have made at the halfway mark of their bathroom challenge.

Click here to enter the Win a Home competition

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