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Your property subdivision compass to build wealth.Can you subdivide and develop?Free site assessment.Zoning,site criteria,councils,feasibility,planning,design&costs

Property Subdivision Melbourne : e Learn town planning and  property development essentials for Victoria.

AuARCHITECTURE is Melbourne's property subdivision specialist with the real competitive edge.

We are led by a hands on Founder who is a Registered Planner with a degree in Architecture, a successful property developer,owner builder and designer of hundreds of projects. They include his own profitable dual occupancy, bespoke homes, townhouses, unit developments, low cost and luxury homes to childcare and medical centre, retail and office buildings.


He is supported by a team of Registered Building Practitioners, a Platinum HIA builder with 30 years experience and Registered Architects.

Our combined experience equates to decades of learning and sharing of knowledge with experienced and first time developers.​

With over 250 planning permits personally managed by our Founder, why trust your project to inexperience?

He shares his knowledge below.

How can you dual occupancy, develop units on your land and enjoy the benefits of a property subdivision in Victoria?


In this short e learning class we show you how to measure the development potential of property against council's  seven critical parameters. 


This course is your property subdivision and development compass.


We  cover Victorian Councils, town planning essentials for smaller residential projects,  building design footprint, site criteria for development, construction costs, project feasibility and case studies to name a few topics in this property development course.


We tell you which Council's received the highest number of Planning Applications and which were the most active in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

If you need to assess the development potential of your property, we provide a free evaluation by a Registered Victorian Planner.

Request your complimentary and obligation free site assessment.


Why should you develop your property?

Property development is the safest  way to build wealth that we know of. 


I have seen  friends and famiy operate in the equity markets which  can provide  extremely high returns while carrying enormous risk. Every second could mean a gain or a huge loss! Fascinating to watch the graphs move with a herd mentality. That is a  full time  nerve wracking operation- often working  through the night if dealing with overseas markets- currencies in particular. There are many who have built incredible amount of wealth through this avenue.


Property development on the other hand can be a full or part time profession providing pleasure and profit ; with  you  in control.


We will partner you all the way and help you reach your property development goals- from site assessment to construction.

Swarup will share his experiences and the vast knowledge he gained from complex Council Applications.

He walks the talk and developed his own properties, including  turning his first home into a very profitable dual occupancy subdivision during the credit crunch we faced in Australia; then in the next development had  his prestige home rezoned to higher density to accommodate a four storey apartment.


He bought an inexpensive 3600 sqm. parcel of land zoned "ecologically sensitive" ; in other words, "a lemon, which can't ever be developed." After 2 years of slogging it out with council had it rezoned to residential zone; he owner-built on the  challenging and absolute  waterfront block.


All these  applications faced stiff opposition from the local Council and local residents. However, persistence, planning  and construction knowledge prevailed.


He has managed 250+ planning permits  for Victorian property developers. Feel free to contact him for  development and subdivision advice.

Buying the right property,  verifying its critical planning controls and doing the feasibility report will ascertain success. This class walks you through the essentials of property development.

The Property

The property can be one where you retain the existing house and build in the vacant portion- eg the backyard.

You could live in the home and then move into the new one in the back. Rent the front home to pay the mortgage if you have one or , sell it  CGT free to pay down debt  and later sell the new home in the back also CGT free. Please seek advice from your accountant. There are other benefits which we cover later.

Or buy a block with a run down-house and rather than make improvements, build two or more dwellings on the site. The more units you get approved the less the land cost per unit. In some instances it is better to retain the existing house if the site criteria for a dual occ is satisfied without making too many changes to the house.  If the house needs a lot of work and property prices are rising in the area it maybe worthwhile demolishing it.


Should you reno or demo?  Read on.

Financial lenders tend to prefer credit applications for 2 units for new developers and 3 or 4 units could be termed as a commercial build with bigger deposit required.

Check the availability of services close or on the land, and avoid land with vegetation if possible. Trees on your adjoining  neighbour's lot can also affect the footprint of the development on your land.

Learn about the ideal site criteria later in this course or contact us for advice.

Corner sites generally have more design advantages with its two street frontages. Wider sites are ideal for a duplex or for providing more than one driveway.

Properties closer to the CBD allow smaller lot subdivisions. The further you go from Melbourne CBD the bigger the lot sizes required by council. Inner city lots can be as small as 60 sqm while those in the mid to outer rings require around 300 sqm generally- all depending on how the design satisfies the local council planning scheme and Rescode .

Generally speaking, properties close to schools,  shops, transport, parks  etc tend to get approval for more units.

The further you are from this infrastructure the less support is given by council for higher density development.

The thumb rule is being about 800m or walking distance  from such infrastructure.

When developing the land one has to allow for more than just the building footprint. We have to provide private and secluded open spaces, garden area, parking for each dwelling, driveways with turning circles to name  few for each dwelling- even the existing house if retained. These items take up a significant portion of the developable land.

The zoning of the property plays a key role on yield.


For example on a 711sqm block in a Residential Growth Zone we obtained planning approval for 5 units The same sized block in a General Residential Zone was approved for only three units!

For property buyers  unfamiliar with Victorian properties, it is useful to note some areas will experience higher growth than others. 


For example the regional areas of Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo will see their population almost double  by 2054.  Melbourne is expected to outgrow Sydney. Melbourne from 4,970,000 in 2018 to 8,915,000 in 2054. Sydney is expected to grow from 5,247,000 in 2018 to 8,648,000 in the same period.

Are you thinking of developing in Melbourne? Contact us for more information on  your property.

How  big is my house is a quick overview of what planning requirements determine the house or townhouse size.

Town Planning- Zoning and Policies


In a Nutshell


A property is attractive to a developer when the zoning, its schedules and overlays are conducive for a fast planning approval.

Each property is governed by its particular zoning- most zoning allow dual occupancy and townhouse developments.


The number of units you will achieve depends on the zoning schedule,  location, aspect (site orientation), proximity to infrastructure, vegetation on and off site, neighbourhood character and site features to name a few.


An experienced planner will consider all these items when providing advice or when writing a planning report. ( see an example of a report we documented below).

The common residential Zoning are Residential Growth Zone, General Residential Zone and Neighbourhood Residential Zone.


Other zones include Township zone and others related to low density or farmland. There are zoning specific to commercial, mixed use and industrial.

The Schedule to each residential zoning specifies certain criteria which should be satisfied- like setbacks, site overage, landscaping, open space type and size and others.


In some instances the  number of units which can occupy the land is specified- these apply to the more restrictive Neighbourhood Residential Zone.

Residential developments must comply with the relevant clauses of the Planning Scheme and in particular the multiple  standards of Clause 55. Apartment projects must satisfy the new and very stringent Clause 58.

Garden Area requirements MUST be satisfied. In the typical development site above 650sqm, the Garden Area must be a minimum of 35%. Smaller lots require 25% or 30% of garden area.


Our experience shows this requirement  really cramps up on the amount of developable land. In many cases we found the 35%  meant losing one unit!

While the trade off for the Garden Area, in theory,  was an increase in height of the building. However, most councils would discourage going above two storeys in the mid to outer ring  outer suburbs as that would go against the Neighbourhood character of the area.

Garden Area requirements do not apply to the  Residential Growth zones.


Parking is a major challenge for developers; as the number of units and number of bedrooms per unit is governed by the number of parking spaces to be provided in the design. A two bedroom unit requires one car while 3 or more bedrooms requires two cars, one of which must be undercover. Councils generally prefer the parking not be located in the front setback- the front yard- of a residential unit development.

Lots facing a main road  or those with four or more car spaces must  have the cars exit in a forward direction (headlights facing the road). This requires traffic design.


One Visitor parking pace is required for every five units i a development.


Councils prefer parking to be at the rear of the dwellings. Driveways and turning circles (swept paths)  must meet the design standards. In duplex or designs with two or more driveways, parking can face the street. Several Councils are "restricting"  the number of driveways on a lot.


In some instance Councils might vary the parking requirements; however that is not common in the typical townhouse/dual occ type development. Councils traffic engineer's are playing a key role in decision making nowadays.


Visitor parking, open spaces per dwelling and driveway design all chew up valuable developable land.


In some zoning schedules, each dwelling must be provided with 80 sqm. of private open space (POS) (as shown below)  which  is almost the size of the living areas of unit's footprint! Other Schedules might lower the site coverage- or put simply , the size of the building footprint. However 40 sqm of POS is common. A POS must include a Secluded Open Space- like a secure private courtyard- which must be accessible from a living area and be at the side or behind the dwelling. Hence the first house must have its Secluded Open Space at the back or side and should ideally face north to enjoy the sun.


An inexperienced designer will make mistakes if they do not understand the implications or the  mandatory requirements of the planning scheme- which is a thick document!


Planning overlays control design, building height, vegetation and  materials  to name a few. A Design Development Overlay (DDO)  example is shown below.  Many properties are not burdened by a DDO. Those affected by a Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO)  will require a BMO consultant's report. Designing in a BMO affected site will require consent from the CFA.


Planning also takes into account any restrictions on the property title ( covenants or Section 173 Agreements), front and boundary setbacks, shadowing impacts on neighbouring lots, vegetation protection to name just a few standards and objectives we consider when designing any project..

An experienced Town Planner will guide you through the maze of policies each council has adopted. Contact our Registered Planner  for your complimentary advice. What can you build on your land?

GRZ5 80sqm.JPG
Schedule to Zoning

Two different Zoning Schedules

Design Development Overlay example

Design Development Overlay



The architecture of the development should be attractive and  fit into the context of the neighbourhood in most cases- as councils look at this aspect seriously.

The design should generally satisfy the requirements of a sustainable design as more and more councils are insisting on a Sustainable Development Assessment (SDA).

The aspect, positioning of living areas, solar access, sunshade devices, landscaping are the essentials of a good design which not only provides comfort to the occupants but tick the boxes at Council and for your real estate agent!

AuArchitecture's Registered professionals will provide the right design and prepare the drawings Council or your Building Surveyor requires. We  document the SDA report and Landscape design when requested.


Contact us for your  project  design and documentation. See design and documentation examples below.

Our beliefs in Architecture are available here.



There are 31 councils in the Greater Melbourne region each with its own planning scheme (gazetted policies) with a total of 82 planning schemes across Victoria.

Some councils encourage more development, some more creative design solutions while some may have the highest presence at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) where applicants (developers)  challenge Councils decisions.

Around 14% of Planning Applications received by Councils across Melbourne were either challenged at the VCAT or withdrawn at Council.

We encourage developers to collaborate with Council where possible or practical for a faster decisions. VCAT appeals cost fees and planning lawyers time and a decision could take 4-9 months.

Time to get planning approval from a council depends on the complexity of the design and how much a developer wants to maximise the yield or stretch the envelope. A decision at Council  will generally take between 6-9 months and faster for simple applications.

Council zoning will determine what type of development is possible on your block. The zoning will have its relevant schedule which will specify items like minimum front setback, site coverage, landscaping and more. Councils have planning overlays which control design, height of building , vegetation, erosion, flooding and bush fire to name a few.

An experienced planner will guide you through this maze of policies.

AuArchitecture works across all councils in Melbourne
Councils we work in
We work at these councils
We work across Melbourne Cuncils

In 2017-2018, the Local Government Areas (LGA) of Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Ranges, Stonnington, Monash and Boroondara received the most amount of Planning Applications- almost 25% of all planning applications. However, the LGA's of Melton, Nillumbik, Frankston, Wyndham and Maribyrnong  received only 12% in the same period.


In 2016-2017 the LGA's of Monash, Glen Eira, Darebin, Boroondara and Moreland were most active at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) .

In 2017-2018, Monash remained the most active in the VCAT  followed by Moreland, Stonnington, Whitehorse the Mornington Peninsula. 

In the same period Yarra Ranges, Nillumbik, Cardinia, Hume and  Melton were the most inactive at the VCAT.



There are three common  types of permits.

Other permits are required  for more complex sites.

Town Planning Permit  allows the use of the land. For example, council approval to build two homes on a block, or change of use from a home to a doctors surgery  and so on. A Town planning Application to Council requires a comprehensive set of drawings- plans, elevations, design response, site description, shadow diagrams at the least together with a detailed planning report. The planning application is a process and you learn about the work flow here. Other reports maybe required  by your council like an arborist report on the trees, a traffic engineering report on the movement of vehicles, a Bush fire management report on land burdened by a BMO  or a Cultural Heritage Management plan if the land is affected by it.

A Town Planning permit has an expiry date to prevent land banking by developers. They are usually valid for 2 years. You can request Council  for an extension of time to start the works approved by the permit.

Subdivision Permit where council allows you to subdivide the land. For example in a dual occupancy you will get approval for the two houses to occupy the block and then get approval to legally subdivide the block. The subdivision process requires certain works to be completed. Learn about the subdivision process here.

Building Permit. After the planning permit is granted a more detailed set of drawings are prepared by registered professionals- architecture, engineering, energy report, soil report at the least. Those drawings and documents are certified by a Building Surveyor. The stamped drawings gives you approval to  build. A Builder will require copies of the Building Permit and Town Planning Permit together with the stamped (endorsed) drawings and documents to tender or start construction.


Planning permit set of drawings we prepared

Planning Application planning report prepared in house

Building Permit /Working drawing sample

Dual Occupancy/Project Workflow

town planning workflow

Click on the image to see the workflow- from start to Building Permit

Site Criteria

Site Criteria

A development conducive site will have the correct zoning and Schedules attached to the zoning, be ideally flat with services available in close proximity- sewer, power, storm water discharge point and so on.

Dual Occupancy Sites suitable for property subdivision.


There are a myriad of things to consider when finding a suitable dual occupancy development site suitable for subdivision. Some of these are listed below.


  • There should be a minimum 3 metre  wide driveway access to the rear yard if that is where the dual occupancy home  is  to be sited or check to see if two crossovers are allowed by your local Council

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

  • The site should be ideally close to infrastructure, schools, shops and transport

  • The title should be clear of restrictions ( eg restrictive Section 173 or single dwelling covenant) and preferably without any easements

  • 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- rear facing north

  • The zoning of your land and it’s associated Schedule should not be overly restrictive

  • The planning overlays on your land should not be too restrictive

  • The site should be fairly level

  • 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 precedence for similar development in your neighbourhood especially if you are trying to get more than two new homes on the land

  • There should be no difficult planning overlays burden

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

  • Read more.

Why do a Dual Occupancy subdivision? Is it Feasible? Can I build more than two units?

A dual occupancy occurs when a permit is granted by your local Melbourne (and Victorian) Council to build two dwellings on a block of land which can also be subdivided to create two individual lots of land.

The subdivision is what creates the real value; it helps you liquidate the hidden asset in the backyard for a dual occupancy development.


A triple occupancy would allow three units on the land making the land cost per unit even less.

Purchasing the property at the right price, location of services, ease of connections of services, ease of build, selection of materials and  finishes appropriate for the area you will develop all play a role in the profitability of the project. Overcapitalising can be a mistake some emotionally charged developers make.

Construction costs depend on the items noted above.

Off the shelf builders plans don't normally work for town house or dual occ developments as there are numerous planning constraints which have an impact on the layout of the rooms.


In custom designed projects - which normally apply to multi-unit residential developments in Melbourne- construction cost for a 3 bedroom  double storey townhouse would cost around $220,000  to $250,000 with  standard inclusions for  flat site.  A single storey home with a floor area of 130 sqm would cost anything above $143,000. There will be additional costs- for example the subdivision costs for building the driveway and connection of all services. Exact prices can only be provided once the Building Permit drawings are completed, which include all the architecture and engineering design and drawings  and an energy report at the least.



Dual Occupancy Benefits


Dual  and Triple occupancy property subdivisions are profitable because it maximises the value of the land. More units less land cost per unit.


Two houses generate two rental incomes. Even if you sold say the existing house, chances are it will be free of capital gains tax which might pay off your mortgage, any debts or release cash to be used for other worthwhile ventures.


Very often, after the dual occupancy subdivision is completed, the original home is sold for almost the price one paid for the whole block of land with the house. The second house then becomes the cream. It worked for the author who has developed property with success.


A dual occupancy development can preserve capital, diminish risk, and generate cash flow.


  • A dual occupancy development increases the value of the land

  • A dual occupancy or medium density development can be profitable as long as you do your feasibility analysis with care

  • A dual occupancy releases cash from a backyard you might not be using

  • The new dual occupancy homes can enjoy generous depreciation benefits- Your accountant or QS can work out the amount which could be as high as $40k per new house over five years

  • You could move into the new dual occ home with new kitchen, bathroom and more and be CGT free when you sell one or both homes. 


How much should I pay for a dual occupancy site.

Can I subdivide my block?

  • Can I subdivide the property? Can I build 2 or more houses on the land? Find out what is possible.

  • Should I demolish the existing house and build two new homes or retain the exiting home? Answers

What are the types of Dual Occupancy developments?

We have shown three common  types of dual occupancy in Victoria. Read about them.

dualocc benefits
Project feasibility

What are the costs associated with a property development

development costs

These are some of the items you will record or assess in your feasibility report

Land Purchase Price

Stamp Duty

Finance Application Fee

Conveyancing cost

Pre-Purchase Reports


Soil Test

Architect/Designer/Drafts person

Structural Engineer

Civil Storm water Engineer



Landscape Designer

Construction documentation

Other Reports

Project Management fee

Subdivision cost

Council Application fee

Council Contribution Fee

Electricity fee

Drainage fee


Build Cost




Letterbox etc

Marketing costs

Agents Fee

Legal fees

Interest rate

Holding cost for Land

Interest on Construction loan

Resale Value


Other costs you might incur
















Below are two  Feasibility Reports.


The first is for a dual occupancy with land acquisition cost of $865,000, construction cost of $487,111 per unit with a floor area of 277sqm each, subdivision cost of $15,000 per lot and double storey structure with mid range finishes for 4 bedrooms, ensuite, 2 other bathrooms, butlers pantry in  open plan living and small formal sitting room.


The second one shown below is  for a Three Townhouse project in the middle ring of Melbourne.

The land cost was $876,000 and the development margin was 14.8%.


For a FIRB type project this would not be feasible as additional taxes would apply for a foreign investor. Stamp duty would be an additional 7% over the standard 5.5%.

For a higher return the developer would either have to purchase the land for less or build at a more competitive rate for some cost savings.

Construction costs depend on finishes, ease of build, access, location of services,  facade design and materials to name a few variants.

A simple basic low end single storey will cost  upwards of $1000/sqm plus the cost to build driveway and connect the services. A basic  3 bedroom unit could be around 135 sqm. upwards in floor size. Hence the build cost would be around $135K plus subdivision costs of say $10,000 (TBC)

A double storey build cost starts from  $1350/sqm. A 145 sqm unit would cost around $200K + . You must add the subdivision costs to the build cost. A high end build cost rate  would cost over $2000/sqm.


These are thumb rule rates. The only way to get an accurate cost  is to prepare the full set of Building Permit documents which must include all the engineering and energy report..


See an example of our Building Permit drawings  here.


Learn more on subdivision costs   here.

dual occupancy development costs
three units
dualocc feaso.JPG
dual cashflow.JPG

Feasibility report for a dual occupancy project near Melbourne

Feasibility report for 3 townhouses in Melbourne
Three townhouse development feasibility report

Feasibility for a three unit development in Melbourne

Contact us for a Feasibility Report.

Contact us for you property's  development potential .



Dual Occupancy Types


Dual occupancy developments could be one where you retain the existing house and build one new house in the backyard or in the front yard all depending on land size, depth, access and how one meets the local planning requirements. Or develop differently for a corner site- which could offer great benefits in yield.


Other forms of dual occupancy subdivisions occur when the existing house is demolished to make way for two brand new houses which could be one behind the other called a tandem design or  side by side which is called a duplex style property subdivision. In both instances access, site frontage, depth, orientation and streetscape play a key part in the design. 

Types of dual occs
Tandem Dual Occupancy

Tandem Dual Occupancy

Our client's brief was to demolish the old house on the block and obtain permits for to large dual occ homes. They were luxurious with an internal lift or the elderly parents! And we won the permits from a conservative Council in Victoria.

Dual occ behind heritage home

Dual occ behind heritage home

This Dual Occ permit took time. it was sited behind a heritage home and and neighbours who engaged a top ranking planner to write the objection! And we won. Construction starting soon in Malvern

Duplex on 12m frontage site

Duplex on 12m frontage site

The narrow width, neighbourhood character and main road frontage were all challenges we overcame. The yield- a duplex with 4 bedrooms each near the CBD for the overseas based owners.

Dual Occ success

Dual Occ success

Our Founder managed council and objections to gain a permit for a profitable dual occupancy project. He will walk the talk,

Dual occ on 7m frontage

Dual occ on 7m frontage

The dual occ design takes advantage of the streetscape where Victorian homes are built boundary to boundary.

Can I subdivide my home?


Most properties can be subdivided. While its easier to do so on some properties than  others, there are challenges which may require structural changes to the existing house or a knock down rebuild would apply. The depth, width and orientation of a property plays a key role in property subdivision.

Get a Free! opinion today. We will give you the options on a desktop basis. 

Dual Occupancy Success
Two or Three units on your land
Duplex narrow block

Existing house retained and dual occupancy in backyard

Corner block  development

Duplex on 12 m frontage site near Melbourne




A dual occupancy development is the subdivision of one lot into two lots.  


In Melbourne, the middle and outer suburban allotments are usually ideal for dual occupancy  subdivision development.


Inner city locations will require less land for development while those in the mid to outer rings will require around 300sqm. per lot depending on the zoning and neighbourhood character.

Please complete the firm below for a high level audit of your property. All information is kept confidential.

Feel free to call our Founder - 7 days- on 0448 170 132- 9am to 6pm

Free analysis

Thanks! Message sent.If you need urgent advice call 0448170132

r2 (1).jpg


A contemporary dual occ duplex design with no common walls!

Dual Occupancy Development by AuArchitec
Tandem dual occ

Traditional Dual Occ

Our Founder's first property development turned his first home into a highly profitable development. More projects followed including rezoning his next house to a 4 storey apartment

6 townhouse development AuArchitecture
Multi Unit project

Town house project

A small site located near shopping complex can yield 6 units  with on grade parking.

Residential developments

What are the costs associated with a property development-subdivision type?


There are a number of costs associated with doing a successful property subdivision. To begin with you need to factor in professional fees, council contributions, cost of land, cost to build, cost to subdivide and more.


So how does the whole work flow?


We detail how your dual occupancy subdivision  process works. Read more.

So where do I start in my property subdivision journey?

After determining if the site can be subdivided, work out if it is worth doing the development.      

 What  are the costs associated with a Feasibility report? Feasibility Case Studies. 



  • Finance  is your first step in any development. Don't run out of cash so do your homework and work within a cost budget allowing for increases in holding costs. Costs include acquisition, taxes, soft costs and build cost to name a few. Then there are bound to be contingencies and variations. A detailed Construction Cost plan comes in useful. as does a comparison of tenders. Contact us if you need one  we offer both these services.



  • 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 bush fire where restrictions could occur and heritage, vegetation and others which may apply to the land.


  •  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 Section 173 agreements. I have seen some which burden future development.


  • 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 or detailed construction plan. 


  • 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, that is, doing a dual occupancy in your own backyard. What should I include in my feasibility report. See examples.

  • Feasibility study is critical both in terms of site yield and the economics. Can you subdivide and what can you build. Ask us for a complimentary opinion today. You might be paying too much for the land or selling prices might be lower than you thought. What data should you input into a thorough feasibility report? Learn about them.


  • 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.  Creating separate titles through subdivision can start earlier.


  • 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.It could run as high as $39,000 per house over 5 years!

  • Build Equity through the property subdivision. You can apply for the subdivision titles once council issues the certificate of Compliance.  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. Your Land surveyor can advise your options and the process. Learn more about the process here....


  • 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. Its a great feeling to know you may  have built equity and value through your town planning and subdivision permits. Talk to us to get  started- we know the process and  how it works- from design to town planning and construction. Start the ball rolling!



Welcome to the world of property development and successful subdivision!

11 steps to development
Feasibility report for town houses
Feasibility report for 14 townhouses



Planning permit applications under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 and certification applications under the Subdivision Act 1988 are processed and assessed by the Statutory Planning unit at your local Council.

Typically and simplistically the subdivision process  involves:

    • Apply for a  planning approval  for subdivision. When the permit  is granted it will contain  conditions which must be satisfied.

    • Council also certifies the plan of subdivision, which legally approves the subdivision under the Subdivision Act 1988

    • Thereafter the Applicant must meet the Permit conditions (eg installing the required services like sewer, power etc or  building crossover if required under the Permit). On completion  Statement of Compliance is  issued. 

    • A registered surveyor draws up the subdivision plan which is certified by Council.

    • Your conveyancer or representative can then lodge the  certified Plan of Subdivision and Compliance Certificate with  Land Victoria, which allows new titles to be issued for each lot created under the subdivision.  Read on for More information.

If you are planning to build the project it might be a better  to satisfy Council Subdivision Permit conditions during or after construction. These conditions are generally the provision of the essential services like connections to sewer, storm water discharge, electricity, NBN etc. Once these works are completed to Council's satisfaction, it will issue a Certificate of Compliance.

You can then register the lots and sell each unit with its own land title.

However, if you do not plan to build but want to sell the subdivided lots (eg your backyard) you will need to satisfy council conditions before you can legally register the new lots. A purchaser will want a clear title for the backyard. Some councils might agree to defer these works to a later date (like for example  after you collected a deposit from the purchaser). In order to defer the works, you will need to enter into an Agreement with Council which is called a Section 173 agreement where legal costs will apply.


A registered surveyor will draw up the subdivision plan and together with a Certificate of compliance  your lawyer can submit the documents with the Fees to the Land Titles Office who will issue the title for each registered lot. 

Australia Post will b e involved with creating the lot address  like  nos 3 and 3A Subdivision Road.


Subdivision Types

3 unit development Casey council

Corner block subdivided into 3 strata lots due to shared connections to services. Adjoining dual occupancy strata lots with one unit behind another sharing common driveway.

Torrens title subdivision

Property subdivision for acreage with more expensive 18m wide public roads, footpath, kerb and gutters and no shared or common areas. Hence each lot is Torrens titled. If the road was substituted by 6.4m wide common/shared driveways, each lot would be strata titled.

Dual occ strata subdivision

Existing house retained. New lot at back.Most common type strata subdivision with shared driveway

Common type subdivision

Dual occupancy development- one unit behind the other to create a 2 lot strata subdivision with common property being the shared driveway

2 lot strata subdivision

Typical dual occupancy subdivision. The two new lots share a common property (driveway)


Side by side units duplex style dual occ. The Basement parking is divided into two lots with driveway as common shared area.

Duplex subdivision

Duplex dual occ. Block split into two lots with minimal common property.

Corner block subdivision

Corner block creates opportunity for two Torrens titled lot subdivision with no common or shared driveways. Each unit will separately connected to services.

4 strata lot development

Four unit development will create a 4 lot subdivision with one common driveway in this strata subdivision.

4 lot strata

4 lot subdivision with shared driveway.

duplex doncaster

Duplex dual occupancy with minimal shared area. The two lots are strata titled as services are shared.

343-170912_29 Hertford Rd Sunshine - SOU

Apartment with each unit to be a strata lot. Lifts, lobbies, circulation corridors, stairs parking are shared areas.

Building Permit & Subdivision

We have documented, managed  and been involved with the building stages for dual occupancy homes, townhouse projects, apartments, retail and commercial, health, education to name a few disciplines. 


We provide  and co ordinate other consultants as required for your Building Permit which follows the Planning approval for your project. :

  • Architectural Documentation- full set of drawings and specifications are provided by AuArchitecture

  • Structural Engineer Documentation

  • Civil Engineer Documentation

  • Energy Report

  • Electrical layout  and hydraulics documentation

  • Land Surveyor for subdivision

  • Marketing  Render- optional

  • Management of consultants and administration

  • Tender evaluation- optional

  • Building Surveyor


The Building stage for a residential project like a dual occupancy  can be broken into the following  stages:



Construction preliminaries

Base Stage

Frame Stage





Learn about the seven stages of construction for your dual occupancy.


We can recommend a builder if you require one. 


We can recommend all the external consultants- from surveyor to engineers and  arborist if you need one.

Property value after subdivision?

Gross Income from sale of 3 units



$ 1,440,000


Development cost


20% developer's margin                  $180,000 (say) 

Selling/legal fees say                        $45,000

Building and soft cost                      $630,000

Subdivision cost                                $45,000

Others costs, say                              $30,000


Total development costs              $930,000


Cost of property with a potential 3 lot subdivision is then $510,000   ($1,440,000 less $930,000)


We have not taken into consideration any contribution to be paid to council and holding costs.


Using this same formula you can work out how much is a dual occupancy site worth where you retain the existing house and build one new dual occupancy home in the backyard. Of course make sure you are allowed to subdivide the land into two lots as some Victorian Councils are or have put in place minimum lot sizes!


Allow for some renovations, contribution may not apply for two lot subdivisions and you may be satisfied with a smaller development margin.

How much should I pay
Registered Planner

AuArchitecture focuses on residential developments- from individual homes to multi unit subdivisions.

The practice is led by Swarup who is supported by a HIA Platinum Builder who looks after construction documentation, award winning Architects, Registered Building Practitioners, BIM technicians, cost estimator and we are associated with a builder with 50 years of experience. We offer a range of services from Architecture, Town Planning to Construction Cost Analysis.  Read about our services.

Architecture of the site and feasibility makes the development project. Build or Build over Easement. Its your land but you need consent to develop on it! Covenant- that dirty word for property developers. Mostly not harmful but beware of fine print. D is the darling for designers and developers. Do it once and well.Easements- can contain services bigger than Ben Hur ! or carry none Feasibility- do the numbers- construction cost plan, holding charges, net return all play a role in the property subdivision Go for it otherwise you will always be on the fence and 10 years later regret Heritage overlays need checking- can you demolish or is it just an ineffective overlay Interest rates- too good to be true. I was paying 18% + in those scary days of development Joinery helps sell a property- don't crimp! Knowledge is power- when applied Levels on a sloping block adds to build cost Mezzanine finance is the start of trouble? Its also for Marketing Native vegetation needs careful handling Opportunity is around the corner- can you see it or did you drive past it ten times? Property,profit,performance,planning,permit  the list is exhaustive Quest for knowledge Residential development- safe for first time developers Success leads to more development Time control Under develop- no one wins Valuation- drive past or well researched makes all the difference Work together with council, builder, client and consultants then its a Win Win Win X Factor in Design wins Y is Yield and that matters to developers and subdivision Zero to Hero- do it well and you are on the rise.


Should I demolish the existing home?


The typical dual occupancy subdivision is the tandem style arrangement. When the existing house is retained in the dual occupancy development, one’s capital is preserved because the asset purchased, that is the value of the house on the land, is retained.


The house has value so think twice before you consider demolition! You  should consider demolishing the house in a dual occupancy development  if the house is in very poor order or is not suitable for your needs, is very outdated and will cost a fair amount to bring it to today's market expectation, is in an area experiencing significant demand for particular home style and amenities or there has been significant growth in the value of the land. This is where the Knock Down and Rebuild works!


In Australia- and in particular Melbourne and Sydney, there are suburbs where the value of the land outstrips the value of the actual house!


In most middle and outer suburbs the houses have great value as it generates rental income and is easier to finance by typical lenders.


For example, if the house is retained in the dual occupancy development, banks could lend 80-95% of the value of the property. If the house was demolished, banks tend to lend only 65-70% of the value of the land as the house has been removed. This preservation of capital in the eyes of the lender reduces their risk because if, for any reason, the development does not go ahead, the asset retains its value.


Even after the redevelopment, the value of the existing dwelling is by and large retained especially if you already held it for a few years and property growth continues.


The existing dwelling also generates cash flow during the planning process and in some cases even when the development is underway. This cash flow cannot usually be generated from a vacant allotment.

demo or keep
wellness house-accessible unit
Wellness dual occupancy house

Left side is single storey rear unit                                       Right is the double story front unit

The case studies.

Read all the case studies here.

1. Dual occupancy/dual income/inter gen home

The client's 298sqm lot with a  7 m wide frontage is on a street where other narrow sites are occupied by  100 year old, terrace style homes .

The owners of some of these properties have extended upwards - in some instances boundary to boundary.

On the northern and right side of the property is an extended double storey Victorian home while to its left is a 1970 single storey home.

The design takes advantage of the neighbourhood character. Hence, for the front unit with reverse living,  we have responded with double storey structure  built to the boundary to the right and on the left setback as per Rescode.


The rear unit is single storey- ideal for older persons while  causing no adverse shadowing on the neighbour to the south.

This flexible home can be a dual occ  each with 2 bedrooms  plus open study  or a large four  bedroom plus study  home or a dual income home. It has the flexibility of being a semi retirees  income stream from the front unit while occupying the rear single storey unit  which has all the features of wellness architecture- north facing living room windows, cross ventilation and more.


The Feasibility.

Land $850,000

Build cost $500,000

Rental Income:

Rent from 2 units : $700 / week /unit


Sale profit

Anticipated Sale from  two units $1800,000 (based on current sale prices in area).

Case Study
dual occ secluded open space
Dual Occupancy by AuArchitecture founder

2 Tandem Dual Occupancy

Our Founder turned his first home into  highly successful dual occupancy development. That led to other developments including a challenging dual key beach home which-he owner built. Getting a Building permit for a water front home on an environmentally sensitive land was a 2 year battle  with council's planning, engineering, traffic and flora and fauna officers. He eventually presented his side of the story to the full Planning department including the Council's General Manager. Armed with  real facts- including exhaustive geotech reports- he convinced Council a Permit should be issued and it was!


He also approached the State Government's  planning department and had his second home in a  prestige area rezoned for  a four storey apartment.

The tandem dual occ project was in a blue chip area surrounded by homes with tennis courts and pools. The neighbours and council were in unison- oppose the development. The Application was not supported by the planning officer. He presented his side of the story to the full council and won a permit.

The property was burdened by a heritage listed tree!

He subdivided the land then built the second home. The profits paid off the mortgage and had enough for a deposit on the next property.

Should demo

Start the Ball rolling! Can you subdivide the land? What could you build on it? Is it worth doing the development?

We offer high level advice on a complimentary basis. Please complete the form below  and our Founder will respond personally or call Swarup on 0448 170 132- 7 days

Site analysis

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