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A dual occupancy occurs when your local Victorian Council approves a Town Planning Application for two dwellings to occupy one lot of land.Free site analysis!

Free Site Audit by Registered Planner who managed  250+planning permits.Maximise your dual occ returns.Design,planning & Build

A dual occupancy occurs when your local Victorian Council grants a Town Planning  Permit for two dwellings to occupy one lot of land. Some Victorian properties are more suitable for a dual occ subdivision while others may face some challenges.  Can you dual occ your land?  What is the most suitable design and planning solution for your property?


Our Founder developed his own highly profitable dual occupancy. His next project was a complex waterfront dual key home. He walks the talk  and appreciates the risk and costs you will undertake. That is our competitive edge.


He will be personally involved with your project from concept design to all permits. If you wish to build, he can introduce the few builders he works with.


He  is a Registered Planner and Affiliated with the Australian Institute of Architects, the Planning Institute of Australia and the Victorian Planning and Environmental  Law Association- the peak institutes of the planning and architecture professions.


This synergy gives us a further competitive edge over others who might just be designers, drafting practice or planners only ; consequently that synergy will deliver higher efficiencies and productivity for your project.


He personally managed over 250 planning permits across Melbourne and some in regional Victoria. The permits were for dual occupancy and townhouse developments for mum and dad developers and experienced investors in Victoria,Sydney and overseas.


He and his team of Registered Architect and Building Practitioners will work for you to win planning approvals for your dual occupancy or townhouse project.


Once the planning permit is issued, we can document the Building Permit for your builder or ours to quote. We offer a "one stop destination" for your dual occ projects.


We will be there from start to handover of your new dual occupancy project.

Property subdivision advice by expert
dual occ type


Dual Occupancy I No Permit : No Fee

Tandem Dual Occupancy


Dual occupancy design

Dual occupancy design

The dual occ homes sit one behind the other. You might have your dual occ home behind or in front of your existing home or demolish the house for two new homes.

Can you dual occ

duplex front better.jpg


Duplex design

Dual occupancy design

Duplex type dual occupancy ( side by side) usually provide larger footprints and more accommodation. Council's have policies on duplex type dual occupancies.

Can you duplex?

Dual occupancy by the sea


Dual occ on corner block

Dual occupancy design

Corner blocks provide opportunities for dual occupancy each with its own street address. They are often separated from each other providing more privacy.

Can you dualocc

Typical backyard subdivision

Typical dual occupancy in backyard.

What is the Ultimate Dual Occupancy Site in Melbourne (or Victoria for that matter) ?

This is the million dollar question!

The Ultimate Development Site (UDS) should satisfy all  of these characteristics but if it does not is not the end of the world:


  • The cost of the  site should result in acceptable development margins. How much is a development site worth?

  • The site width should allow for two crossovers if want a high yielding development. Wide sites are great for a side by side duplex or for 2 or more "one behind another" type development.

  • A duplex site should have a 16m + frontage with the back boundary facing north to minimise overshadowing on neighbouring land.

  • The site length and area should allow adequate north facing open space for recreation and landscaping

  • Corner sites offer tremendous planning and design advantages

  • The site should be close to infrastructure, schools, shops and transport- location is king!

  • The title should be clear of restrictions and preferably without any easements- check for Covenants or Section 173 agreements on title

  • All the essential services should be available onsite or  in close proximity and run in the most advantageous position

  • The site orientation should be perfect so that the amenities of neighbouring properties are not adversely affected by over shadowing

  • The zoning of your land and it's associated Schedule should not be too restrictive

  • The planning overlays on your land should not be too restrictive like heritage, vegetation protection etc.

  • The site should be fairly level to reduce build costs

  • There should be little or no significant vegetation on the site and on abutting sites within say 5 m of the common boundaries

  • A soil test should demonstrate the foundations will not require additional strengthening

  • There should be no encroachments on your title boundary  or by your property on adjoining allotments

  • There should preferably be precedents for similar development in your neighbourhood

  • There should be no planning overlays burden

  • Your local Council should encourage development to meet their housing stock forecast


But don't fret if your property isn't the perfect ten. An experienced architect or designer with sound town planning skills and knowledge will get great results from challenging sites. We will get you great outcomes even if the property  is not the Ultimate development site!

Are you ready to find out the development potential of your land? Please Complete the form below for a Complimentary high level site assessment- and it's 100% obligation free!

Dual Occupancy Subdivision.

Dual Occupancy subdivision is the process or creating two or more blocks of land ( also known as Lots) from one parent block.

The two common forms of titles in Victoria are Strata Title and Torrens Title. Simpy put, Strata lots share common areas whereas Torrens title lots do not.


Most suburban blocks fronting a public named road  have Torrens Title, which are often subdivided to create two or more  Strata Titled lots.


Subdivisions can liquidate the hidden asset in your backyard through a dual occupancy type strata subdivision where both the dwellings might share a common driveway. 

For the adventurous, one would demolish the existing house (if one exists) and build three or more townhouses, or an apartment type development or even a duplex type dual occupancy, where the two dwellings sit side by side.

These type of developments usually generate strata type lots with common property- like a shared private driveway  in a townhouse project or  the lobby, car park, service areas and  public corridors in apartments or industrial projects.

In larger parcels of land, the lots can be Torrens Titled where there is no common or shared  property. Driveways are replaced by wider public roads and each lot  is directly connected to the services.

Torrens titled blocks are more expensive to subdivide compared to Strata titled lots.

As a very rough guide, a two lot subdivision could cost around $15,000+  over and above building  costs.

If one does the maths right, subdivision is a great way to build wealth. 


Our Founder subdivided his first home and invested the profits into other development sites. He is a Registered Planner with a degree in architecture. 

Contact him in confidence to find out if your property can be subdivided.

Learn more about the dual occupancy process and below. 




 A large site with a suitable zoning could yield 3 or more units on the land. There would be common areas like shared driveways.

Can you develop

affordable housing


In some locations affordable housing could yield rewards. The units would  be modular to save on building cost. They often yield high rents.

Affordable housing

6 townhouse development AuArchitecture


In growth or activity zones the number of units on the land  would increase as would the height of the development.

Higher density

affordable design / town planning / building solutions







 Town Planning Application documents*

The first step is  assessing the land's suitability for a dual occupancy development.

We then prepare preliminary (concept plans)  for approval by client.

Thereafter we start the Town Planning documentation.


Town Planning Documents* for a  dual occupancy or townhouse projects involves a fair mount of documentation.


It includes :


  • Detailed town planning report

  • Site description plan

  • Design Response

  • Existing conditions plan and design modifications if required 

  • Ground Floor plan

  • First floor plan  if applicable

  • Roof plan

  • All elevations

  • Section if required

  • Garden Area Plan

  • Shadow diagrams at the least

  • 3D views in some projects

  • Other reports where applicable

See examples of the town planning documents below of a larger ( non dual occupancy)  project.

However the number of drawing sheets and reports will be similar for your  dual occupancy project.

This is a great time to start your project.

Interest rates are still low, builders are competing for work and we feel the credit market will evolve with smaller banks  competing aggressively for the home loan market share and more non bank lenders entering  the competitive credit market, both of whom will be serviced by mortgage brokers. Very similar to the time Aussie Homes Loans revolutionised the lending market years ago. Our Founder remembers those days well- he took advantage of the situation and turned his first home into a very profitable dual occupancy subdivision!


Town Planning report

Town Planning Permit
Town Planning Permit for dual occupancy

Town Planning documentation- drawings

Town Planning permits


"We will have three homes on our block all with spectacular views across   the bay. The service given by Swarup has been faultless with both process and the design of both homes "....   Read more.

"Swarup has quickly responded to our request and in a very short brief really understood exactly what we wanted and delivered mock up sketch drawings in a matter of days. He is very professional and so far has been great to deal with."

"They are really good. Very professional. They are really professional "

Dual Occupancy can unlock the hidden equity in land. Unlock yours today.

Profit from our No Permit No Fee option.

Our Process

A dual occupancy development requires planning consent from  Council.

Our Founder is a Registered planner & managed 250+ planning permits for residential projects including dual occupancies.

Our 5 step process :

 site analysis, the design, town planning  and  building permit


Occ Feasibility

The first step is to work out the best solution for your property. 


Should you retain the existing house if it is worth keeping or demolish to create a blank development canvas with less compliance 

Can you Subdivide

We adopt a proven method to determine if you can dual occupancy your property.

We start with a detailed audit/analysis of your land.

The next stages are the design, town planning strategy, building permit and build. Need a financial feasibility? We do that too.

11 Steps to Development

Follow these 11 proven steps and you will be on your way to a successful property development career.

Location, finance, councils, zoning, how much should you pay for a development site?

About dual occs


AuArchitecture is underpinned by the decades of experience of the team.
We believe architecture and town planning work hand in hand to save time at Council.
At the same time we aspire to deliver spatial comfort for the occupants of the buildings we design for and understand yield plays a critical role for developers- after all Swarup developed his own properties with great success.
Benefits of doing a Dual Occupancy

The Benefits are directly linked to maximising  floor area, optimising the site's potential and minimising alterations costs if the existing house is retained.

  • The benefit of enjoying two rental incomes is doubling the potential of the property.

  • You may choose to live in the new home and enjoy the new kitchen, bathrooms and the comforts of a new house while  being Capital Gain Tax free  on both houses

  • You could use the new house as your principal place of residence and sell the existing house to pay down debt or to release equity to invest in any worthwhile purpose

  • If you decide to rent out the dual occupancy home(s) there are substantial Depreciation Benefits which your Accountant or QS can advise on- benefits as high as $39K over 5 years.

  • There are Negative Gearing Benefits (Subject to Government policy on this matter)

Should you retain or demolish the existing house on your block?

This is a commonly asked question.


If the house is in good condition by all means  retain it as it has real value to you and your lender if there is  mortgage.


However to develop the backyard for a tandem style development, the side of the existing house should be set at least 3 metre  from a side boundary to allow a driveway to the service the backyard. See an example of planning requirements.


There are other factors to consider- for example providing the secluded private open spaces (SPOS)  for both dwellings, orientation and access to the SPOS.

In some instances it is difficult to achieve all the planning compliance unless major alterations are made to the exiting house.

We will give you frank and fearless advice upfront  on what you need to know and not what you want to hear. That way your development becomes more practical and achievable.

You might find going through the alterations will still yield a profitable outcome- especially in areas where land is scarce and land values high. Ask for our Complimentary advice today.

Retain or demo








No two sites are alike unless they are side by side  or share  similar planning features like site orientation, frontage, depth, location of driveways, easements, onsite assets like sewer, front setbacks, vegetation on and on abutting land, slope, buildings on abutting properties and streetscape character to name just a few criteria to be analysed.


We take  the above into consideration  as well as other criteria like the zoning and planning overlays which may  burden the land, check the property title for covenants and Section 173 restrictions and ascertain  what type of development is possible on your land. Then only can we advise if you are ready to subdivide your land. Beware of some who promise the earth! Learn more...


Our Complimentary Desktop assessment will give you a high level opinion after we sight the Title information.


Our detailed  audit will provide you with an honest opinion of what your local council across Melbourne and surrounds may support.

We answer the following  commonly asked questions:

  • How big will each unit be

  • How many units can you build

  • How many stories will they be- single, double storey  or higher than two levels and

  • What type of yield  will you obtain.

  • What can you build in my backyard

Our Founder, who has managed hundreds of town planning permits across Victoria, will give you a bandwidth of risk and certainty. Of course we design for the maximum knowing well Council may ask it be pared back. At least you then know both of us tried for the max!  Order your complimentary high level  site analysis today!

Dual Occupancy subdivision. Can I subdivide by backyard?




Anyone can design a house. But will that dual occupancy or town house design meet the Council guidelines, planning policy and the relevant sections of the Planning Scheme? You need to choose between the average designer/ architect  or  someone who has a background in both architecture and town planning and will custom design to suit the site.

Our founder will oversee the site analysis, strategic planning, overall architecture and design with a hands on approach and modify the layout till you are satisfied under the limitations of planning controls. 

Our founder managed  hundreds of successful town planning permits from most councils across Melbourne and surrounds. You can benefit from that valuable planning and design experience. He developed his own dual occupancy and understands what is involved with site selection, design and battling the local council for a good outcome.

We will design to your  brief and preferences- whether you desire a contemporary look and feel with a big budget or a traditional design to suit most budgets. Our designs encourage access to natural light, ventilation and materials which provide thermal and acoustic comfort to the occupants. We call it Wellness Architecture.

There are a few types of Dual Occupancy options-


  • Tandem style dual occupancy is where one house is sited behind another- the most common type of backyard subdivision. A shared driveway is often a result unless one can have two driveways which many councils oppose

  • A duplex type of dual occupancy where the two houses are side by side facing the street. This generally  provides higher floor areas and less common property.However several councils oppose two driveways unless  the land has meet their minimum frontage policy

  • A corner lot has tremendous dual occupancy potential with bth hoses have street frontage

  • Two street frontage dual occupancy  has great design advantages. It can be one house behind the other or a duplex with parking from rear  to name a few.


Town Planning
Learn more

Design and Town Planning go hand in hand. There are limitations on what each Council across Victoria  will allow for a multi unit subdivision. Each parcel of land have their design preferences and planning restrictions set by planning policies.


After you are satisfied with the preliminary design- where we usually  "stretch the boundaries", knowing full well Council have a habit of making designs and footprints smaller, we commence on the Town Planning documentation.

There are multiple drawings required by Council  plus written reports which we do in-house.We can do the ESD report, which is becoming more popular with a growing number of Councils and the Water Sensitive Urban Design if needs be. We prefer to hand it over to other professionals.

Some sites require special reports to satisfy the planning overlays that may burden your land or require special driveway design. We can recommend the appropriate consultants who should be involved with your project-  like  the Traffic Engineer, an Arborist or heritage consultant and others and we  co ordinate the work. 

Read more on the Town Planning and the Dual Occupancy Subdivision Process and Workflow




We will submit the application to Council and you need to pay all the fees to Council and other authorities. As the application moves through the Council workflow, we respond to all the correspondence, meet the council officers and attend any mediation with objectors to the proposed development. We make unlimited design changes to satisfy Council. All of this takes up valuable time and you are kept  informed on how the application is progressing.

After Council grants a permit we make any design changes required  to satisfy the permit conditions.

If the Applications ends up at VCAT- and we do our best to avoid that from occurring- but an objector can also  appeal a decision by Council to grant a permit- we or our associates are there to represent you.

Our goal is to avoid VCAT and work for a win win win outcome.



After the Permit is granted we can assist with the working drawings. Learn more.


Our associate builder with over 40 years experience  can complete your construction at a very competitive price.


What are the steps involved with your development. Learn More..

Dual Occupancy Development by AuArchitec
Founder dual occ

Or Founder's first development- a successful dual occupancy. He retained the existing home, his first own home- renovated and sold it and built the new 3 bedroom traditional designed home in a blue chip area.

His third project- an owner built holiday home!

It took 2 years to rezone the land and get planning approval from a hostile council. Complex engineering and a house which could be loosened or tightened to suit the geotech movements.

Free Site assessment form

Start your project.


Please complete the form below and we will respond with your property's development potential -usually within 24 hours or less.


Feel free to call  Swarup, our Founder on 0448 170 132 - 7 days (9 am-6 pm).

He too  was a first time developer and completed a very successful dual occupancy.


His first development had a lot of  objections, was affected by heritage overlay and Council was not supportive!


But he won through perseverance, town planning and architecture experience and knowledge and sheer determination to succeed.

All information you provide Swarup  is kept confidential.

Thanks! Message sent.


You most probably can-if your property meets the mandatory rules-  and if not ,then the existing house may need some modifications.


If you meet the planning requirements and standards a new dual occupancy home in the backyard is a way to build equity in property  quickly.

If those standards are challenging, you can consider a knock down the old home and build a tandem style dual occupancy or a duplex if site width and number of crossovers meets council requirements.


For a tandem- the most common form- dual occupancy these are some factors to consider:


  • Site width and depth

  • Width of driveway access to backyard- the minimum width is 3m but council may ask for a landscape strip adjacent to the driveway

  • Size of backyard- depth from back of house to back fence/boundary

  • Parking and turning circles

  • Open space size and depth

  • Orientation- living opening to north is what Council likes

  • Effect on amenities of adjoining properties and the existing house you want to retain (shadowing, overlooking,built form)

  • Vegetation on the land and near shared boundaries

  • Neighbourhood character to name a few  Learn more


For a duplex style dual Occupancy the above apply as well as the width of street frontage.

The number of crossovers must meet the minimum  ratio- number of crossovers divided by street frontage.

Duplex dual occs are not encouraged by some councils who prefer to see parking at the rear of the development and not facing the street. Their grounds are loss of landscaping opportunities, streetscape, too much concrete in front, dominance of garages. A single crossover is often their reference.


  Get your Free Development Analysis today!

11 steps



Follow these proven steps and Learn How to start and complete a dual occupancy or property subdivision. 

Here is a general check list:


  • Finance  is your first step in any development. Don't run out of cash so do your homework and work within a cost budget



  • The New Residential Zones in Victoria are complex when it comes to property subdivisions. Understand the council planning requirements for dual occupancies or triple occupancy  in the area. Read council’s planning scheme and the schedules which apply. The scheme will let you know the minimum size of land you’ll need for your dual occ and what type of development is permissible. Check for overlays- especially those relating to bushfire where restrictions could occur.


  •  Property Location is paramount for a profitable property subdivision. Infrastructure, availability of services, schools, shops, recreation spaces, employment corridors, views, cultural context  and transport add value to your development.


  • Expert Site assessment is the foundation. Search for land that meets the dual occupancy or triple occupancy  criteria. Talk to us. We know which sites work. It’s a complex exercise best left to professionals who will be with you all the way.


  • Size  of land is important. If it’s a duplex site, you may need a minimum of 16-25 metres frontage in mid to outer suburban rings and less in the inner areas controlled by City of Melbourne, Yarra to name two. Site width for two crossovers is not encouraged by several councils who prefer to see all garages and car parking hidden from the street view.


  • Check the title, Title Plan and Planning Certificates. Check the planning certificate to see if it is in a bushfire or flood zone or affected by CHMP. You can still develop in these areas but it will add to your build costs. Check the title for covenants or agreements.


  • Building Cost Budget.  This is very important as the builder will look at the land from a different perspective. We can assist you with the building permit process  and a cost budget to measure your progress is a great idea. 


  • Run your development feasibility to ensure the project will be viable. Run one in the reverse format to work out what is the maximum amount you should pay for a site. Of course this will not apply if you are subdividing your own home or land or doing a dual occupancy in your own backyard.


  • You will need to find recent comparable sale prices from which you can base your end value estimate on this. Talk to agents about the current rental market and what rent could be expected to calculate the projected yield on completion. Most importantly, you need to have a good understanding of the build costs. We advise to do a Cost Budget to set your goals and control any overspending. Over capitalising or getting emotionally bound to a development could cost you in the end.


  •  Long Settlement  terms help. If  buying a development site, a long settlement period helps and obtain pre-consent from the vendor to lodge a Town Planning Application pre settlement.


  • Town Planning and Building Permits. Once you have all the approvals, you can then go back to your lender to obtain your unconditional construction loan. As soon as this is in place, the builder can start.


  • Construction. The build phase for a dual occupancy should be around four months upwards and usually around eight months for a double storey to Certificate of Occupancy stage. Once the building works are completed, an occupation certificate will be issued. 


  • Don’t forget to order a depreciation schedule; this is simple, just email the plans and builders tender and any other cost details to your quantity surveyor. Depreciation can be very attractive as long as you hold the property.

  • Build Equity through the property subdivision. You can now apply for the subdivision certificate and once council issues the certificate, you can register the subdivision (after your lender has signed off on it). There is no need to register immediately if you are planning to hold and not planning to refinance as you may find costs such as rates may be a little less if the dual occs are kept on one title.


  • You may decide to “flick” one of the lots with its own title to a builder or developer who is cashed up to start building now rather than waiting for the 6-12 month period it usually takes to come to this  planning approval stage. So you may  have built equity and value through your town planning and subdivision permit. Talk to us- we know how it works.



Welcome to the world of property development and successful subdivision! Learn more...


A typical development will create 2 or more strata titled lots, each with its own title  sharing some common property, like internal driveways.

Subdivision of larger block

In such an application, each lot will have its own Torrens title with no common or shared 

property. Roads will be managed by Council. 

Existing site before duplex approval
Classic Duplex

$250,000 GAIN

Our client bought a difficult site for $1.3 million which had a storm water drain bisecting the property. We secured planning approval for two large duplex units. They sold the property with planning permits  for $1,550,000.00.The neighbour next door applied for a duplex through a different firm and got refused.

beach home site_
beach house.JPG


Swarup negotiated with the local council to allow a home to be built on a water front block which was on sale for years! It  was ecologically sensitive, had serious geotechnical problems with a creek running through the land and zoned as not to be built upon. After 2 years of persuasion and armed with geotech reports and engineering solutions he had the land rezoned to residential  and owner built on the 3000 sqm block. Screw piles went 6 metre into the soft ground, deep aggi drains wrapped around the foundation and the building structure could be tightened and loosened! The land value increased tenfold.

peek 2.GIF


Swarup applied for the demolition of the rear of a heritage cottage and secured planning approval for a large 6 bedroom home with swimming pool.

The owners had the option of doing a dual occupancy in the backyard or renovate. Our feasibility studies showed renovation would yield higher profit. We prepared the Town Planning and Building permit documents. The house is  built and now worth in excess of $2.4 million.

macleod existing.JPG
Tandem Dual Occupancy


Banyule council approved the future construction of two very large dual occupancy houses on a street undergoing change. There were large trees which council required retention due to the planing overlay.

woonona ex.JPG
Dual Occupancy Development by AuArchitec


Swarup, AuArchitecture Founder, had the whole Council and a street full of neighbours up in arms as they  did not want to see their prestige properties carved out for dual occupancy type developments. Persistence, good design and knowledge secured a permit for his dual occupancy development, which unlocked huge equity from this heavily vegetated site. He went on to develop other properties including having his second home near a prestige school rezoned for an apartment and owner built on a difficult site and more!

Site under consideration at the VCAT
Swarup acted at VCAT


Swarup acted for the property owner and after 3 days of hearing at the VCAT, won a permit for a dual occupancy subdivision on a site burdened by difficult planning overlays and the whole community against subdivision

tooronga advert.JPG
tooronga dual occ.JPG


Swarup negotiated with Stonnington Council and secured a contemporary dual occupancy behind a heritage listed home in Malvern.

Victorian Planning permits
banyule planning permit


Swarup managed and negotiated hundreds of town planning permits with Victorian Councils.

Case studies
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