dual occupancy project

Are you interested in developing a dual occupancy project? Well, you’re in the right place if you are. A dual occupancy development project can be highly profitable. Why?

You’re essentially creating two separate homes on one block of land. You can then sell them for the market rate of a townhouse or unit in the current market. This can be an effective way to maximise the value of your land.

What Exactly is a Dual Occupancy Project?

In case you didn’t know, dual occupancy means building two distinct properties on one block of land. This is most commonly done as a duplex – or two townhouses or units constructed next to each other and sharing a wall.

what is a dual occupancy project

However, with a large enough block of land, it can be possible to build a stand-alone dwelling next to or behind an existing home. Both of these types of development projects are called dual occupancy.

Now let’s explain the other part of the term, subdivision. A subdivision is when you create two separate titled lots out of one larger lot. You essentially cut it down the middle and divide it in two – or subdivide it, hence the term subdivision.

What Sort of Land Do I Need?

This is a great question. You might think you need a large enough block in terms of meters square. Now, this is but one aspect of a viable site.

But there’s so much more to consider.

You also need to consider street frontage and utilities access. This means things like gas, power, the internet and water.

You also need to take into account surrounding properties and their appearance. No one wants a sore thumb sticking out on their street. They might object if the plans are too over the top for the area.

dual occ project

Consider Site Orientation

Site orientation is another thing to consider when determining if some land is viable for development. For instance, a south-facing site is not great. No one wants their home shrouded in darkness for most of the day.

A corner block is generally a good bet. But still, consider what is mentioned above.

As a rule of thumb, town planners tend to like sites at least 300 meters square per home. So that means you may want to look for sites above 600 meters square.

A good tip is that there are no rules set in stone in this game. Each potential development site is unique.

Don’t Get Attached

In order to get ahead in the property development game, you absolutely need to remember this golden rule.

Try not to become attached or emotionally invested.

It’s pretty easy to fall down this rabbit hole. You see a site that you love, or you convince yourself you need to develop in a particular suburb. Before you know it, you’re emotionally attached. And then you’re not thinking with a strategic brain, but an emotional one.

dual occupancy vignette

You need to stay detached, cool, calm and collected in this gig. You need to consider a site for all the above variables and more and only pull the trigger if everything stacks up.

So, let’s say you’ve found the right site. So what’s next?

Surveys, Design, Town Planning and Paperwork

The first step after finding and buying a suitable site is to enlist a land surveyor. They need to carry out what is called a “re-establishment survey” as well as a “features and levels survey”. These are essential steps in the development process and will need to occur before your architect or draftsperson can work on potential designs.

The next step is to engage the architect. You need to provide them with as much inspiration as possible. You may have a mood board or a Pinterest or photos of other developments in the area. Remember – don’t neglect the existing character of the suburb. You don’t want to see any objections to your project.

Then you need to get your planning application together and submit it to the relevant local authority. This is typically the city council. A note here – you will always face a wait.

The duration of the wait can vary depending on the local government. They will hit you back with what gets called a “request for further information” or RFI. Make sure that you get back to them with everything they request. Any delays are now on you, so make hay while the sun shines.

dual occupancy projects

Next is Construction Documents

There’s a bunch of different red tape you need to complete before your build. Your townhouse builder will need all of the following documents before demolition or breaking ground.

There’s no space to go through them in extreme detail here. Consider it a starting point.

Here’s a checklist.

  • Working plan set
  • Engineering plan set
  • Computations
  • Energy plan set
  • Energy report
  • Civil plans set
  • Landscaping plan set
  • Fixtures fittings and finishes specifications
  • Proposed plan of subdivision
  • Soil test

The Build

Once you have all construction documentation in and approval from your local council, your subdivision build can commence. Depending on the site and the type of project you’ll soon have two new homes subdivided and ready to sell. But there are a couple more steps left.

The Subdivision Process

Once the builders are working, you need to start cracking on your Plan of Subdivision (POSD) application. Your land surveyor will provide you with a checklist of tasks to complete and the paperwork needed for approval.

You must get this all done and completed prior to construction completion. Why? It’s simple – you need all your properties on their own titles before you can see settlement.

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Decide to Sell or Rent

Now that you have two brand new units, the choice is yours as to what you do with them.

You may want to sell them both to make bank, that’s fine.

But, you might choose to rent them both out and let them appreciate in value as the market continues to rise.

Or, you might want to downsize and live in one and sell the other off. Or live in one and rent the other out.

Finally, we’ll share what you need to know about selling a dual occupancy development.

How Do I Sell Dual Occupancy Developments?

The best way to sell a dual occupancy project is off the plan. There’s a reason for this.

If you hold off until the dwellings are fully built and run a traditional real estate sales campaign, you’ll have to wait for the sales agent to list the property.

Then you need to have it on the market for a few weeks to a month. And then – more waiting. Next, you’re waiting for the settlement date, which in most cases is between 60-90 days.

Off the plan sales mean that you get your settlement in full once construction is complete. Simply put – you’ll see all of your profit much sooner by selling off the plan.


In this useful article, we’ve outlined what it takes to pull off a dual occupancy development project. There’s so much more to learn, though, so watch out for future content.

And of course, if you ever decide you don’t have the time or confidence to develop yourself you can check out our Buyers Agent and Project Management services.

little fish property developments