Without a doubt, the two questions we at Little Fish get asked the most are around cost and time. So in this article, I’m going to share a property development case study where I lift up the on a dual occupancy development project that we completed for a client at the end of 2019.

I’m going to share all the projects timing and costs. Including the eventual result as far as profit and the clients return on investment.

Let’s get into it.

Now before we rip the hood open on this property development case study and sink our teeth into the project particulars, I think it’s important to note that our client purchased the property at the extreme top of the Melbourne property market and ended up selling the new dwellings at the very bottom.

Which you will see on the timeline when we get to that part of the article.

The reason I wanted to mention that now, is because I want to make it clear that you can and should be able to make money no matter where you are in the market cycle.

Let’s breakdown 37 Mount Street, Altona.

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Project Particulars

It’s was a side by side dual occupancy design, with an east-west site orientation. It was approximately 780 square meters of land with a 15.5m frontage and 50.3m in depth.

I also want to point out that the south neighbour was set off the boundary which helped our client’s ability to maximise the site as there were no shadowing issues.

Ultimately, we were able to build two 30 square monsters with 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and lockup garages.

Project Timeline

Before we get into the numbers let’s look at the project’s timeline.

To give the project some perspective. When the clients purchased the property, their initial plan was to rent it out with a thought that they may develop it one day. Which kind of happened but just much sooner than they thought.

They stumbled across our website one evening and the rest is history.

It’s also important to note that around the time we trying to secure their construction finance the banking royal commission was in full swing. As a direct result, they ran into so trouble.

In the end we looped them in with our broker who eventually helped them secure the finance. By default of the situation, it cost some time.

I also wanted to touch on the importance that all subdivision requirements are met timely throughout the construction process. It’s so that the new title registrations are done either prior to construction completion or at the very latest in parallel.

Thanks to the hard work of our team here at Little Fish all the subdivision requirements were met in plenty of time.

It guaranteed that settlement with the buyers was achieved within 14 days of project completion meaning they got their capital back and saw their profits sooner ready for them to roll into their next project.

Now you’ve got some perspective around the timing let’s get into the numbers.

The Numbers

Let’s start with the costs.

For the purpose of this exercise I’ve broken down the costs into seven categories:

Purchase Costs

These costs include the purchase contract price, stamp duty and the relevant adjustments including the conveyancing.

case study purchase

Early Development Costs

These were the costs incurred from the point in which we took the project on (or in most other cases from the purchase date) right through until town planning approval.

So essentially, in this case, all of the costs for the first 8 months.

These costs included the deposit for our project management services, the land surveying so the re-establishment and features and levels survey’s and the drafting and planning costs.

Middle Development Costs

These were all the costs incurred from the planning permit approval right up until construction.

They include the demolition, construction documentation, the interior design package, the plan of subdivision application. It also includes the new power pit that was required and all the service connections such as NBN, telecommunications and the water.

Our stage 2 PM invoice for achieving town planning approval was also paid at this point.

Construction Costs

All of our construction contracts fixed price and are full turnkey so it included everything you can think of from the landscaping to the letterboxes, clotheslines and everything in between.

It also included some additional funds for earthworks after we hit some rock. Nothing too crazy or unexpected but there were some costs incurred.

Our stage 3 PM invoice for construction commencement was also paid at this point after we had run the full tender process, engaged the builder and they had started on site.

Marketing Costs

These were some minor costs for marketing assets to support the sales campaign. It included some 3D renders, the hoarding and marketing banner and the custom brochure design and printing.

Bank Interest (holding costs)

For this project the client was able to have the bank interest capitalised. This essentially meant the interest was accrued over the duration of the project. It was then paid in full from the proceeds of the sales when they were settled at the end. So when the loan was closed out.

Completion Costs

Which included the agent’s sale commissions and portal listings which were also paid at settlement of the two sales.

There were some minor settlement costs. And the final payment for the project was our stage 4 PM invoice that was due upon project completion.

The Result

As shown on the timeline earlier in the video both properties were sold off the plan and the new titles were registered timely. So, the properties were able to be settled with the buyers 14 days after the builder issued the certificate of occupancy.

If your goal is to maximise your financial return. Then this is exactly how you want the end of your project to go.

The key is to settle with your buyers as soon as possible so you get your money sooner, pay down your debt and roll into your next project.

This case study proves you can make money in good and bad markets. As long as you make good decisions and you don’t over capitalise.

This Mount Street project wasn’t without complications either which is why we choose to do a case study on it.

Not only was it purchased at the top of the market and sold at the bottom but there were issues with getting the required finance. The royal commission was happening at the time and the banks had tightened lending.

So there were legitimate and significant time and cost implications the negatively affected the bottom line.

BUT through old fashioned hard work, the power of knowledge, highly refined systems, processes and efficiencies it still ended up a super successful and profitable project.

The buyers were happy, the clients were happy, and we couldn’t have been happier.


The key to becoming a successful property developer is all about patience and discipline. Your goal isn’t to retire on your first development. Something I have tried to reiterate multiple times in this property development case study.

You want to get in the game at a level that you aren’t overexposed financially so you can begin to grow your capital with as minimal risk as possible. It’s no secret that money makes money. So get on the developing merry-go-round and start growing your capital one project at a time.

Worry less about market cycles and focus more on learning, relationships, networks and efficiencies. Because if you do, you’ll look back on your journey in ten-year time and you’ll be able to appreciate how good it’s been to you.

I hope you enjoyed this property development case study. We plan on releasing more over the coming months so be sure to keep checking back at our ever-growing property development blog.

Hopefully, you got some value from this dual occupancy case study – I’ve have shared another dual occ one here and a side by side development one here. Thinking of doing three dwellings on your block? Check out this three dwelling.