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 will 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 design 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 securing the right land or site to develop. You get this wrong, and all your efforts for the duration of the project will be in vain.

To learn how to find the right suburb for a duplex townhouse, click here.

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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.

That’s not to say you should never consider developing a site with a protection overlay; all sites and situations will be different and must 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 cut the lots up in the exact block dimensions.

You want to look for suburbs with lots cut up in sizes that lend themselves to the type of development you want 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

Doing a side-by-side on a 12-meter frontage is possible, 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. You need clarity around how to calculate future value of property.

This will play an essential role in helping you understand if doing a project in your selected area makes sense from a number 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 will be similar regardless of area. Depending on spec, of course.

So it makes sense to do projects in areas with 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, you are looking for 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 not to 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 make needs to be firmly based on facts and numbers.

5. Supply & Demand

When deciding on a suburb to develop in, you need to consider supply and demand. From experience, I have found that the further you get out from the CBD, the greater the supply.

A suburb’s supply and demand need to be considered carefully.

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

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 …

A 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 projects in Melbourne, Melbourne selecting the right suburb is very fluid. It’s a constantly 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.