Sub-Divided Block Issues

Want to build a new house in an established suburb?

One way is to look for a subdivided block, or even buy a house on a big block and sub-divide yourself.

I see quite a lot of large suburban blocks sub-divided with one, or more, house blocksadded.

In a number of cases the original house the original house is demolished and 3 houses are built on the block.

If you want to build the available block will normally at the rear known as a Battle Axe Block

So what do you need to think about when considering a subdivided blocks?

Here are some issues to consider:

Vehicle Access

Any shared vehicle access can be a cause of contention so a separate driveway is much the preferred option.

If you have the rear block and put a gate near the front this can provide extra play space for young children. That can be very useful as the backyard area will be fairly limited.

Adequate Off-Street Parking

With two properties sharing one frontage and the loss of parking if there are two crossovers On-Street parking will be at a premium.

I would recommend having space for at least two vehicles off the street (this can include the garage)


When you are squeezing a house on a small block windows are going to be closer to your neighbours on all sides, so overlooking, and being overlooked, is a potential issue.


A South facing block with living rooms to the rear (North) is going to give the best results if you are looking for a passive solar house to minimise heating and cooling costs.


For a rear block you could be hit with extra costs for:

  • 15m plus driveway construction.
  • Extra utility costs due to distance from existing services.
  • Builders charging a restricted access fee in addition to the typical/normal advertised price.

Sewer and Drainage Easements

Easements are often run along the back fence of the original block.

A typical 2-3m easement can severely limit what you can build on the block, particularly when you might also have an easement to service the front block running through your block.

I have heard of sewer lines on subdivided blocks running down the middle of the block, so its important you check this before you buy!


As part of arranging the subdivision the sub-divider will often get planning approval for a type of house.

If that’s not what you want make sure you get the owners written agreement to the design you offer to buy.

It might even be worth making an offer subject to planning permission.


As I haven’t personally built on a subdivided block I may have have missed an issue you have experienced. If you think so why not leave a comment?

To better understand what you can build see Restrictions in the Blocks section


Small Strata Developments

A small strata development is a way of retaining an existing house and providing a rear Block. It is an alternative to a Battle Axe Block. This plan shows a typical Small Strata Development.

With this type of development there are 3 Titles as follows:

  • A block title, of reduced size for the original house
  • A block title for the new block shown in red on the plan
  • An area of common title which is jointly owned by the owners of both blocks

So what  are the issues if you are thinking of buying the back block for you new home?


  • If the common driveway is completed it may well get damaged during construction.
  • Getting agreement about driveway repair can be difficult.
  • Getting agreement from your neighbour to use the access for during construction can be difficult.
  • Sharing a driveway means that your parking options are limited and can lead to disputes.
  • Looking after the shared driveway is like some of the
    Community Title

Additional Service Costs

You will be need to bring in some, if not all, of the following service for an extra 20-30m.

  • Power.
  • Phone.
  • Water, could be two services if you want recycled water.
  • Gas, if it is available.
  • Storm water drainage, can be a problem if property drains to road.

The sewer is usually at the back of the block but check before you buy.

Additional Building Costs

I have heard additional building costs of more than $15,000 for these blocks because they are Restricted Sites


Lots more information in the anewhouse Guide to Buying a Block for only $4

See Blocks for more information on buying land.


Can You Subdivide?

I would advise calling into the Council Planning Department and discussing your block as early as possible. I have always found them very helpful.

To be better informed here are 4 things to think about before talking to the planner:

State and Local Planning Zones, Schedules , Overlays,  Rules, and Guidelines.

What State and Local Planning Scheme Zone,  Schedules  Overlays and Rules apply to your Block?

Has the council got any Guidelines on:

    • Neighbourhood Character
    • Heritage
    • Strategic Planning

This information can usually be obtained from the Internet, as there should be links on your Council’s website.

The Block Size

Generally the minimum block size most councils like to see is around 300m2. Planners may be flexible depending on the Building Envelope.

I don’t hold too much trust in Real Estate Agents statements so I would either check the Title Plan (follow the link to see an Explanation of Title Plans) or even get a tape measure out.

Building Envelope

This the actual area within your title boundaries that it is legally, and physically possible, to build on.

This can be affected by a wide range of factors described in this post: Building Envelope

Additionally with many block subdivisions there are shared driveways  which usually becomes a separate  common area rather than being  included in the block areas.

This means that you will probably need the original block to considerably more than 600 m2 to get two acceptable blocks.


A similar subdivisions in the area, which establishes a precedent, can improve your chances of an approval. It is therefore well worth having a walk around the area looking at what has already been built.

If you want to see what’s behind the fences I find Google Maps is a useful tool although it can be a year or two out of date. Another website is, which generally have more up to date maps than Google,  but you will have to pay to view them.

Even though you may decide to use a Surveyor or Planning Consultant to prepare your application, your research will give you a better  understanding of what is likely to be successful.


For More information see Subdivision Process

Another useful post is Subdivision Costs


Subdivision Costs

Are you thinking about splitting an existing house block to get a 2nd house block for free?………..Well it might be cheap compared with an existing block in the same area, but it won’t be free!

The costs can easily exceed $20,000 for a simple dividing a single block in two.

Below are some indications of costs for a subdivision:

  • Surveyor  – Around $2,500 for a simple subdivision. but can easily double for more difficult sites where a specialist plannner and/or engineer may need to be involved.
  • Solicitor – Typically around $1000-$1500.
  • Application Fees – Land Title, Council Planning Permit and other Authority fees can easily add another $2,000.
  • Infrastructure Charges – A charge  fee that Councils, and Water Authorities, charge as your new lot will  be placing extra load on existing  infrastructure, This can vary considerably depending on both the State and Council area you live in.  Figures over $30,000 are not unknown for Inner City Subdivisions.
  • Installation of Services -Connecting; power, gas, water,  stormwater, and the sewer  can easily add several thousand to the price. If you are required to have a storm water detention tank then add another $10,000 -$50,000.
  • Access – A separate footpath crossing can add over $1,500 but if you have a Battleaxe Block it can easily be $3-4,000.

And that’s before you started constructing anything on the block!

Because of the many variables its worth spending some time researching the costs for your area before you go too far.

 Also see Subdivision Process


Subdivision – Process

Found a big block and would like to split it into two? ………  or just looking to build another house on your block?……….You are going to need to subdivide the block.

Here is an idea of the process for Victoria (It will be similar in other states but check with your local council to make sure you get the details right)

Stage 1 – Planning Permit

You will need to make a formal application to the Council for a planning permit.

As part of its decision making process Councils time will advertise  your proposal to  adjoining property owners.

It will also require consent to the issuing of a permit from the Servicing Authorities (water, sewer, gas, telephone, drainage) and the highway authority.

Generally it will take 60-90 days for the Planning Permit but it might be longer if there are objections.

The Planning Permit will outlines conditions that must be met. These can include: Servicing Authorities requirements, such as construction of vehicle crossings, drainage works and contribution towards open space where applicable. The Planning Permit may also request the submission of amended plans.

Stage 2 – Certification

Certification is an administrative step to ensure that the Plan of Subdivision is satisfactory.

The Plan of Subdivision for Certification is referred to the Highways and Servicing Authorities to determine.

  • Whether Easements are required for their services.
  • Engineering plans for required works are approved (eg. construction of roads, drainage and services,

Once the Servicing Authorities have consented to the Plan of Subdivision and Engineering plans have been approved the plan can be Certified.

The Certified Plan is valid for five years, if the plan is not registered at the Titles Office within that time, the plan expires.

Stage 3 – Compliance

A Statement of Compliance is  required to allow registration of the subdivision at the Titles Office and obtain release of the new titles by the Titles Office.

Compliance requires all the conditions of the Planning Permit  being met. This will include construction of any drainage and vehicle crossings, and payment to all Servicing Authorities for water/sewerage/drainage/electricity supply.

Council will only issue the Statement of Compliance after it has received a letter from each Servicing Authority and carried out a final inspection of the site.


See this post:  Subdivision Costs


Also see Battle Axe Block