Have you ever wanted to do a dual occupancy in Melbourne but are unsure what makes a good suburb to undertake a residential development project in?

Well, stick around because in this article I’m going to share everything you need to consider when choosing a suburb and ultimately a site.

I’ll also share some of the suburbs I think make sense and some suburbs I don’t think make sense.

Let’s get into it.

When it comes to undertaking duplex and dual occupancy projects here in Melbourne there is no question that it is a high risk, high reward game.

The first and arguably the biggest risk is ensuring you secure the right land to develop. You get this wrong and all your efforts for the duration of the project will be in vain.

1. Protection Overlays

Heritage or vegetation protection overlays otherwise known as planning overlays will make it more difficult when dealing with the council trying to achieve your approval.

Heritage overlays are used to protect sites that have heritage value, meaning that individual buildings or whole urban precincts may be covered.

Vegetation overlays are used to protect significant vegetation through the planning scheme. Vegetation includes trees on development sites, shrubs, plants, grasses and wetland vegetation and their habitats. It also includes native and exotic vegetation.

It’s not to say you should never consider developing a site that has a protection overlay, all sites and situations are going to be different and will need to be evaluated on their own merits.

It’s about being aware of them so you aren’t caught off guard.

2. Block Dimensions

It’s not uncommon for suburbs or areas within suburbs to have the lots cut up in the same block dimensions.

You want to look for suburbs that have the lots cut up in sizes that lend themselves to the type of development you are looking to undertake.

For side by side dual occupancy developments, the ideal street frontage is around 15 meters, this gives you enough width to allow for the two cross overs. Any bigger is a bonus.

dual occupancy melbourne

It is possible to do a side by side on a 12-meter frontage, but it will depend on the council you are looking to develop in.

3. Check the Area

There’s no substitution for an old-fashioned drive around. Get in your car and familiarise yourself with the area you are considering undertaking a development.

Take note of what is being built and what kind of developments are getting approved.

Another option is to use online portals such as landchecker where you can use aerial visuals. You can see what is being approved and portals such as landchecker also provide other highly relevant data.


Note, online portals such as landchecker you do have to pay for.

4. Sale Metrics

When you are looking at a suburb you need to consider the sale metrics as far as what townhouses are selling for.

This will play an important role in helping you understand if doing a project in your selected area make sense from a number’s perspective.

Generally speaking, if your completed homes aren’t selling for enough on the other end it will make it difficult to make a profit.

Again, generally speaking, the raw building costs are going to be similar regardless of area. Depending on spec of course.

So it makes sense to do projects in areas that will see a premium on the other end.

For example …

If you’re looking at a suburb where the purchase prices are around 1 million and you build a decent spec dual occ somewhere between that 700-800k level.

And townhouses sell for around 1 to 1.1 million instantly I can see that it leaves enough meat on the bone to make a profit.

On the flip side, if you are in a suburb where you can purchase a site for around 500-600k and then you build something modest for around 500-600k

And the townhouses are selling for 500-600.

There simply isn’t enough money to purchase the site, pay the build cost, pay the development costs and still leave enough profit for it to make sense.

So essentially, what you are looking for is a nice gap between how much you can purchase a site and build for in relation to how much you can sell the townhouses for on the other end.

The key is to not operate too close to the line.

If your goal is to make money it is important that you don’t let emotions play any part in your decision making.

Whatever decision you end up making needs to be firmly based on facts and numbers.

5. Supply & Demand

You need to consider supply and demand when deciding on a suburb to develop in. From experience, I have found that the further you get out from the CBD generally there is going to be a greater supply.

A suburb’s supply and demand you need to consider carefully.

The greater the supply. The harder it will be to sell your townhouses and by default, it will lower their value.

It’s not a good place to find yourself in after working hard to deliver your project.

You want to be looking at suburbs with higher buyer demand, which is generally around:

  • Schools
  • Parks
  • Amenities
  • Transport
  • Shopping centres
  • Villages
  • Medical facilities
  • Dining and entertainment precincts
  • Sporting facilities

Uni’s are also good because you’ll have investors looking to purchase properties they can rent out for a premium.

It will be important that you consider where your site is in relation to these types of amenities,

The more of these boxes you can tick the better.

Walking distance to parks, trains etc are all big ticks.

Once you find a suburb you are comfortable with and you begin to do due diligence on specific sites there are a number of other variables you need to consider which you can check out in another video I’ve previously done.

Now I know what you all want …

Some kind of definitive list of the best Melbourne suburbs to undertake dual occupancy townhouse projects.

Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple because it can be somewhat of a moving target.

BUT as always, I like to get you heading in the right direction which brings me to number 6.

6. Experience

From my own experience, Dual Occupancy designs stack up best within the inner band of Melbourne. Check out this dual occupancy case study.

As a general rule, the further you get out from the CBD the less likely the numbers for your development will stack up.

Based on all the criteria pointed out throughout the video coupled with a tonne of experience some of the suburbs I find make sense include;

  • Carnegie
  • Thornbury
  • Newport

And suburbs I find don’t work as well would be;

  • Hoppers crossing,
  • South Morang
  • Packenham

Ultimately though when it comes to dual occupancy Melbourne selecting the right suburb is very fluid, it’s a constant moving target so it is important that you do your own research.

It’s not only the first step in the process but perhaps the most important as well.

Now finally, if you are considering a site with plans and permits make sure you check out this video I did because it can be risky business if you don’t ask the right questions and do proper due diligence.

Do you live in Melbourne? Are you thinking about undertaking your own dual occupancy build?

Why not reach out to our expert team here at Little Fish, we’d love to hear from you 1300 799 277.