Are you looking at dual occupancy designs, but not sure which orientation makes the most sense for you, side by side or front to back?

Well, stick around because in this article I’m going to break down both orientations and share the pros and cons for each. 

By the end, you’ll have all the information that you need to make the right decision for your dual occupancy development site.

Before we sink our teeth into the orientations it’s important to point out that the key to making the right choice is going to come down to knowing your own area and having an understanding of what your local council will support.

From there you need to figure out what best suits your specific site. 

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Side by Side Dual Occupancy Designs


Let’s breakdown the pros:

side by side designs

You can design boundary to boundary.

There is no common land such as a driveway allowing you to maximise the individual dwelling and land sizes.

Both properties have their own street frontage.

It allows you to maximise a positive site orientation and there is no owners corp. required.


Side by side design cons:

side by side cons

By doing a side by side dual occupancy you’ll require two cross overs, so an additional one.

There is always going to be increased risk that a tree or power pole will be in the way.

There are a lot of councils that don’t like the additional cross over for both aesthetics and safety reasons.

The inability to minimise the impact of a bad site orientation.

With side by side designs, the townhouses will in most cases require a shared wall and it is much more difficult to achieve double garages for both dwellings.

That said, if there’s a good right of way at the rear then you should be able to achieve double garages.

Before we look at the front to back pros and cons let’s look at some example side by side designs.

Collins Street

As you can see both properties have their own frontage, this one isn’t full boundary to boundary, but we do hit the boundary on this one side.

collins street

There is no common land, so no owners corp. and it has the big party wall down the middle, maximising both properties dwelling and land sizes.

Mount Street

This next example shows the full boundary to boundary design, it doesn’t have the right of way at the back so requires the two cross overs up the front.

mount street

Thankfully there were no trees or power poles in the way.

This particular design achieves single garages.

Fosters Road

In this Fosters Road example, it hits the boundary on the one side.

dual occupancy design

It also has a double garage on one side and a single on the other.

Now in this example, there was an existing power pole in the way of the proposed new cross over. 

As such we had to move the power pole which wasn’t cheap.

Obviously, they could have done a front to back design to avoid the additional cost but ultimately it was worth it to our client because they wanted it to be a side by side. 

Front to Back Dual Occupancy Designs


Let’s start with the pros:

dual occupancy designs

A big one for sure is not needing the shared wall as you do in the side by side designs.

You also have a far greater chance to achieve double garages for both dwellings and by default, some councils prefer this design for dual occupancy projects.

And in some cases, you can use the existing crossover.


Next, let’s breakdown the cons for a front to back dual occupancy design.

dual occupancy front to back

Designing front to back means you’ll need a shared driveway which of course means common property and the need for owners corp.

The rear dwelling won’t have a street frontage.

The overall size of both dwellings will be reduced be because of that common drive.

And for me, having someone drive past your window every time they come and go isn’t very appealing if you were living in the front one.

It’s also should be noted that the rear property may have to be single-storey based on the site/area context and council.

And lastly perhaps most importantly both dwellings end up devalued based on the points outlined.

Now let’s take a look at a couple of front to back dual occupancy designs.

Kororoit Creek Road

As you can see this design is a double-storey at both the front and back.

A design like this gives you the best chance to achieve double garages and of course, they are standalone dwellings so no shared wall.

You can also see it only has the one cross over which some councils prefer but in this specific case, there was a power pole, power pit and a bus shelter where the second cross over would have gone so a side by side design wasn’t an option.

And finally, the entire drive area is common property so requires owners corp.

Maidstone Street

This next front to back design has the double-storey up the front and single-storey down the back.

This site also had a power pole and an existing tree where the second cross over would have needed to go.

But as we know the positives are the double garages and the standalone dwellings.

When it comes to designing dual occupancy homes everyone is going to have their own personal preference and it’s not always going to be based on financial reasons.

But if you’re a property developer developing for-profit, from my own personal experience side by side dual occupancy designs are the way to go if it’s possible.

Having your own street frontage and the ability to design bigger dwellings are worth too much to a project

Wrapping Up

Are you looking for a project manager to help facilitate your next development project?

What not reach out to our team of expert consultants, we would love to hear about what you are looking to achieve.

Not sure how one of these projects might pan out? Check out this side by side development case study, it should give you more clarity around what to expect.

For more information, check out this article on developer floor plans.