All developers know how valuable the right block of land can be.
With a subdivision, property developers can benefit from the "more lots equals more money" mindset. The total value of the land increases, and there's even an opportunity for developers to hold onto a portion of the land themselves - giving the property time to further increase in value.
Of course, as profitable as it can be, property subdivision can also be complex and time-consuming too. There are hurdles to overcome and issues to address before any developer can begin to tap into the profits of their new lots. Often, success will require an in-depth knowledge of urban planning skills, attention to detail, and patience.
This guide outlines everything property developers should know before they begin to subdivide land in Perth.
How to Subdivide: The First Things to Do
The points offered in this guide aren't intended as legal advice, but they can help real estate investors to make some crucial first steps in their subdivision strategy. While all developments are different, some of the first measures any developer should take include:
Conducting a Feasibility Study
Get to the bottom of what's involved in any subdivision project. For Western Australia, there's a government website available that covers information on plans, policies, and applications required to successfully sub-divide blocks of land. Typically, feasibility studies involve looking at all the information at hand about a lot and determining whether the investment going into the project is worth the potential profits of selling the resulting constructions. Without a feasibility study, real estate professionals would have to gamble on whether they make any real profit from their projects.
Planning the Subdivision
Subdividing property requires a great deal of careful planning and consideration. Town planners and licensed surveyors can provide developers with the details they need to ensure they're complying with the relevant regulations for their city and town. Once they have the details of what you want to accomplish with your subdivision plan, professionals can give you an insight into what's possible based on the size of your property, local zoning laws, and other important elements.
Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to planning is that the West Australian Planning Commission will need to approve subdivisions before they can take place. The approval of any project is subject to various conditions, and the ability of the developer to deal with things like covenants, demolitions and removals, and more.
Surveying the Property
Another important part of the initial subdivision process involves having the property surveyed by a registered and licensed surveyor. This allows for new lot boundaries to be created for the separate land titles in a subdivided block.
The Different Types of Subdivision
Property subdivision projects can fall into distinct categories depending on the nature of the construction and the goal of the project. For instance:
Survey Strata Subdivisions
A survey strata subdivision is the creation of various lots that all connect to each other. These grouped dwellings come with an entitlement to an overarching lot of land through a survey strata title, and they share common property such as utility connections, sewage systems, and driveways. Existing dwellings on a pre-existing block can be maintained in a survey strata subdivision.
Green Title Subdivisions
A green title subdivision, otherwise known as a "freehold" project, is a development of lots that don't need to adjoin with each other. There's no right of access from neighbouring free-hold lots, and common property is not permitted on a Green Title site. Each lot must come with its own independent street access and utility connections.
Built Strata Subdivisions
A built strata subdivision differs from a survey strata in a few subtle ways. Built strata projects refer to blocks wherein buildings form the boundaries of the lots created on a block. The dwellings here are built first, then the boundary services are completed, and titles are created. This is the opposite approach to a green title or survey strata strategy.
What Does the Subdivision Process Entail?
Because each lot of land and subdivision project is different, many developers can go through "bespoke" experiences when it comes to bringing their development project to life. However, there are various steps involved in the subdivision strategy that remain the same for many real estate professionals. For instance:
Step 1: Assessing the Subdivision
A property subdivision always begins with an assessment of a lot of lands primed to be subdivided. A team of property experts and surveyors can assess crucial details like minimum land requirements, zoning, and block size to help advise developers on the potential of a subdivision block, using their knowledge of the surrounding market.
Complete site assessments ensure that developers can stay on track with local compliance and regulations while determining feasibility by examining potential demolition costs, services, and legal fees. By the time the assessment is complete, developers should know exactly what they can do with their lot, any potential restrictions on the block, and how much their project will cost.
Step 2: Consulting with Governments and Planning Commissions
During the initial assessment and surveying stage, a subdivision plan can be drawn up for the site in question, which will later be handed over to the West Australian Planning Commission and local governments to request permission to build on and alter the proposed block of land. Subdivision specialists can work on behalf of developers to consult with the planning commission and local bodies to improve their chances of approval.
Each council has a unique set of requirements to consider alongside the standard planning commission guidelines, which means that expertise in this area is often essential to achieving approval.
Step 3: Submitting Applications and Achieving Clearance
Subdivision specialists can also act on the behalf of developers when submitting forms and applications to the council and planning commission. This process can take some time. However, once the subdivision has been conditionally approved, developers will need to take additional steps to ensure that all the conditions of their approval have been carried out.
Often, achieving clearance for a subdivision project will include things like clearing out land, arranging demolitions, installing sewerage and power services, and overcoming various hurdles along the way.
Step 4: Handover and Titles
After conditions have been successfully cleared for the lot of land, the final survey will be completed, and an application should be made for lot titles. The subdivision project will then be classified as complete, and developers will be able to follow through with their construction plans.
Importantly, subdivision can be a complex process because various regulations and zoning classifications within Australian suburbs are subject to change. It's important to work alongside a specialist in subdivision to improve your chances of success.
The Forms and Fees of Subdividing Property
Applications forms for property subdivision are available online.
Though the WAPC (Western Australian Planning Commission) are happy to accept applications that are given either in-person, or sent through the mail, they prefer to accept admissions through their electronic processing service.
The application forms available online are in interactive PDF format, so they can be completed on the page. However, though forms can be completed on-screen, they can't be submitted electronically. For a form to be submitted, it must be downloaded, and printed.
Application Fees for 2017/2018
Each property application subdivision form comes with its own distinct fee. These costs can change from one year to the next, so it's important to be aware of the latest guidelines.
Form 1A: Approval form for Property Subdivision
- Between 2 and 100 lots: $3,137 plus $71.60 per additional lot
- 101 lots or more: $10,297 plus $25.20 per lot over 100 lots
- Amalgamation: $2,263
Form 2A: Amended Plan Application for Subdivision
- Between 2 and 100 lots: $1,145 plus an additional $24.50 per lot
- 101 lots or more: $3,595, plus an additional $3.70 per lot in excess of 100.
- Amalgamation: $771
Form 3A: Reconsideration of a Decision Application
- Between 2 and 100 lots: $586 plus another $7.40 per lot.
- 101 lots or more: $1,326 plus an additional $4.60 per lot for lots in excess of 100.
- Amalgamation: $1,047
Form 1C: Endorsement of Plan Application
- Between 2 and 100 lots: $586 plus an additional $7.40 per lot.
- 101 lots or more: $1,326 plus an additional $4.60 per lot over 100 lots.
- Amalgamation: $526
Subdivision Frequently Asked Questions
Subdividing a property is a complex process which requires careful planning and consideration. The following questions are just some of the queries developers need to address before they can begin to put their subdivision project into action.
Q: Can my Property be Subdivided?
The subdivision potential of a block of land will depend on various factors, including:
- The Western Australian Planning Commission Residential Design Codes, which outline the average lot sizes for residential density according to the local area. Different locations throughout Western Australia have their own distinct "R" Codes which must be adhered to with any construction process.
- The zoning of the block of land: The zone of the property according to the local Scheme Map will help to dictate the boundaries of what can be accomplished with a subdivision project.
- The orientation, condition, and positioning of the dwelling may have an impact on the potential to subdivide a block for developers who want to retain the dwelling as part of the Survey Strata.
Q: Why is Subdivision Beneficial?
Property subdivision refers to the process of developing new lots in an existing block of land. The number of new lots will be determined by the size of the parent lot, project finance constraints, and statutory planning provisions, among other things.
The benefit of property subdivision, is that developers end up with parcels of land that they can build on, improving the sales potential of any area. With the right project planning strategy, subdivision is a fantastic way to make a profit.
Q: What Kind of Construction is Involved with Subdividing Land?
Often, various construction projects must be completed before a property subdivision can successfully take place. Developers must prepare the parcels of land they'll be building on to ensure that they can be transformed into effective dwellings for buyers. Some of the most common construction work that takes place during a subdivision includes:
- Drainage containment upgrades.
- Sewerage connections and upgrades
- Demolition and site clearance
- Utility contributions and upgrades.
- Driveway and access installation
- R-code compliance upgrades to retained dwellings, including painting, rendering, patio installations, landscaping, and more.
- Soil compaction and remediation.
Q: How Long Does Subdividing a Property Take?
This is a complex question as the answer can vary depending on the scope and specific nature of the project. The process of property subdivision can take quite a while, because once an initial survey has been completed, developers must submit their application to the Western Australian Planning Commission. The organisation will then have three months to reach a verdict on the Form 1A application form.
The speed at which local governments work can vary according to a range of different factors and most people will take anywhere up to 12 months to ensure that they're fully prepared to begin a subdivision project. However, developers will have up to 3 years from the date of their approval to clear the conditions requested by local governments. Once a clearance application form is submitted to the WAPC, it is often cleared within around a month, and settlement agents can then arrange for titles to be transferred with Landgate, which takes another 2-4 weeks.
Q: Who is Responsible for Approving Subdivision Applications?
The Western Australian Planning Commission is responsible for approving any subdivision applications for survey strata and green title blocks. Local councils and government organisations are also consulted during the application process regarding the conditions that may need to be imposed to ensure the proper development of an appropriate lot of land.
Q: How do "R Codes" Affect the Subdivision Process?
Otherwise known as "Residential Design Codes", R Codes are planning policies enforced by the local government of a property developer. These documents are intended to guide the development of residential properties throughout Australia, and lots are required to meet the standards outlined by these codes before a subdivision can be approved by the WAPC.
R Codes are a common component of the construction world, and they form the basic framework that developments must comply with to be approved. Projects also need to comply with other provisions from local policies too. Some local policies may modify the provisions of R Codes, which is why it's crucial for developers to do their research about the block they're building on before a subdivision project can begin.