Subdividing and developing property into dual occupancies is a lucrative way to add value to your home without forking out hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Your Domain spoke to experts and experienced property developers for their wisdom when it comes to dividing your land and building multiple dwellings.
It doesn’t have to be a corner block
Subdividing legend has it that corner blocks of land are the best to develop on, because creating dual access is simpler with two street frontages.
“It doesn’t necessarily always have to be a corner site, but corner sites provide flexibility for the designer,” Bill Kusznirczuk from Clement-Stone Town Planners, and former commissioner of the Victorian Building Authority, says.
“It just makes it easier to be able to design a dual occupancy on a corner site. Generally speaking, you’ll have one access off one road, one access off another and there’s flexibility on a corner site.”
Jarrod Sturdy, sales and business manager for DualOcc by Metricon — an end-to-end dual occupancy service that has serviced over 750 new permits — recommends to look beyond the corner block.
“The big myth is it doesn’t need to be a corner. It doesn’t need to be 850 square metres. We do a lot of stuff on 550, 600 square metre blocks.”
The right size is everything
Selecting the right block of land comes down to location and dwelling type. While a larger block is preferable, there are options for smaller blocks.
“You need to have a nice wide frontage, you need to have the depth so you can develop the footprints and design those plans so that the dual occupancy can co-exist without impacting either,” says Mr Kusznirczuk.
If you’re subdividing a mid-sized block, a duplex can work well in a tandem design where the houses are adjoined.
If developing in high density areas like Richmond in Victoria and Parramatta in NSW, a smaller block can still work, Mr Kusznirczuk says.
“We’ve done proposals where dual occupancy has been built on 240 square metres so 110 square metres each, but that’s in a highly densified urban environment so it’s a different fabric.”
But Mr Kusznirczuk advises that in more suburban areas, more space is a big advantage.
Have patience, especially with your council
Throughout the process of subdividing land and getting your proposal in order, you’ll be dealing with the council. Knowing when to compromise and when to be patient is the best skill to have, says Sturdy.
“Councils have a set of rules, as long as you know what they want to achieve, and what the area and the neighbourhood character wants. We can actually design something to suit what the neighbourhood wants.”
Parents of four Shane and Bridget Yole have subdivided three times over six years and say being flexible with their councils has been their biggest takeaway.
“Nothing’s perfect in life and you’ve just got to be flexible. Council might want this, you want this and somewhere in between is what you’ll get so you’ve got to be flexible,” said Mr Yole.
Get advice and get organised
Mr Kusznirczuk says the most common pitfall for subdividers is taking advice from the wrong people, resulting in misconstrued expectations of the end result.
“People will think that they can achieve a permit for a dual occupancy because someone told them it’s okay,” he says.
Enlisting the help of a planner or developer can help circumnavigate bad judgment or advice.
“So if it’s not a viable proposition, you need to be told that up front because you’re going to save a lot of money. Otherwise you’re just going to use all these expensive plans for wallpaper and never see the development take place.”
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