The Sub-Division Process

14 Sep, 2021 |

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What to think about when undergoing the development of a subdivision property.

House prices across New Zealand have risen tremendously over the past year. It has been keeping the market red hot, with the median price raised by 25% in Auckland and 25.9% throughout the rest of the country. Along with rising house prices, the introduction of the Unitary Plan announced in September 2016, surrounding the subdivision of property around existing houses, has made the business of property development appealing to delve into.

With house prices on the rise, and land wanted at a premium, the process of subdividing property has become a popular option for those with some spare land to earn some extra cash and to allow property developers to bring more houses to the market.

Do you know what is involved with the subdivision process?

To start, you will need to apply for resource consent, which is often applied as a bundle consent consisting of ‘land use consent’ and ‘subdivision consent’. Preparing the documentation for resource consent usually requires several different consultants, including a planner, architect, civil engineer, traffic engineer, and surveyor.

Resource consent approval takes 20 working days for each part, so the council will require 40 working days to process when applying for bundle consent. Once resource consent has been approved, the surveyor will submit a ‘223’ application to the council entailing the new title boundary. The civil engineer will also apply for ‘engineering plan approval’ for public pipe extension and ‘common access way’, which covers the new shared driveway.

If a new building design is part of the sub-division proposal, you must also apply for building consent. Preparing the documentation for building consent usually requires several different consultants, including an architect, structural engineer, civil engineer, and geotechnical engineer.

A building consent application also takes 20 working days for the council to process. On top of this, you need to identify if any public wastewater pipes intersect with your property. If any are located near the new construction, you may need to apply for a Works Over Application to Watercare. This application is also required when the new vehicle crossing is being built over water mains that run within the side of the street.

Once approved, the building works can start. Throughout the project, the construction works will be inspected by council inspectors at various stages.

In addition to the building works under building consent, you will also need to ensure you fulfil the resource consent conditions to obtain a 224c certificate.

This usually includes the following requirements:

  • Connections to public stormwater & sewer systems
  • Electricity and telecommunications connections (by Vector and Chorus)
  • Water main connection (by Watercare)
  • Shared driveway

When the above works are completed and obtain all relevant certificates for each work, the surveyor will carry out a ‘land transfer survey’ on-site and then apply for the 224c certificate through the council. This is a separate application from your building works which gets your development a ‘code of compliance certificate’ for the completion of building works.

For the usual process, the 224c takes longer than the ‘code of compliance certificate’. Once you have obtained 224c, your surveyor and solicitor will submit the ‘new title’ to Land Information New Zealand, and the new titles will be issued for both existing and new lots.

Throughout the development project, many different aspects need to be considered before, during, and after subdividing property. Notably, many criteria need to be considered at the design stage, including the planning requirement, infrastructural and facilities requirement, and environmental risks. Furthermore, if it is a high-density development such as terrace houses and apartments, we need to think of the fire prevention design.

  • Planning Requirements

Across New Zealand, different areas may impose different planning requirements. However, the following restrictions have most commonly been adopted to meet the regional planning requirements.

  1. Density requirement – The number of dwellings that can be built on-site and the minimum site area needed for the subdivision.
  2. Building coverage requirement – The maximum building area allowed to build on-site.
  3. Height in relation to boundary and building maximum height.
  4. Yard setback requirement – The minimum distance from which the building or other structure must be set back from a road.
  5. Landscaped area – In relation to any site, this is any part of the site not less than 5m² in an area that is grassed and planted in trees, shrubs, or ground-covered plants.
  6. Maximum impervious area – This is an area with a surface that prevents or significantly retards the soakage of water into the ground.
  7. Outdoor living area and daylight requirement – Outdoor living space must be a minimum of 20m2. It is also important that the outdoor living space gets sunlight, therefore it must not be south-facing.
  8. Parking and driveway requirements – There are different car parking requirements for dwellings according to zones and various measurements for parking design within the site.

This is not a complete list, and there are still many rules in determining the dwelling size, height, and quantity that must be complied with. Particularly, in Auckland, we see restrictions imposed based on what size and zone it falls into.

  • Infrastructural and Facilities Requirements

Elements to consider when thinking about infrastructural and facility requirements include; the public drainage service, stormwater, and wastewater discharge, water supply, driveway, power supply, and telecommunication network. These elements play a crucial role of importance to the project and have a decisive role in your development and subdivision.

For example, suppose there is no public pipeline that can be connected on-site. In that case we will consider whether there is a public line connected to nearby, such as the public walkway, road, and reserve. However, where this is not an option, you may have to connect to the neighbour’s site in some cases.

Coming to an agreement with the neighbour is better, as a forced neighbour approval to allow for public connection will take a long time and is a complex process with high costs as the request goes through the council.

  • Environmental Risk

Occasionally, some project sites need to consider environmental risks such as flooding, contaminated land and existing asbestos material.

The council keeps strict management over these issues as they pose a hazard to individuals’ health and safety. It is essential to find the relevant experts to issue a report analysing the harm and influence on these risks, outlining how to deal with and solve such problems effectively.

For example, suppose the site lies within flood plains. In that case, a civil engineer must do a floor report to establish the flood level. So that we can then ensure the building level is higher than the flood level and that it does not block the flow of the flood. All of these different risks will have an impact on the design which need to be considered.

  • Fire Protection Design

Including fire protection in your development will be essential in high-density projects such as apartments and townhouses. These services are required to ensure that the design and layout of the building and the materials used work to prevent the spread of flames and smoke in the case of a fire within the building, allowing people to evacuate the building safely if necessary.

At THE DESIGNFIRE, we have fire consultants in-house, this is advantageous for you as the fire protection requirements can be considered in the initial design stage. You can avoid needing unnecessary and complex fire protection systems, allowing for simplified construction and reduced costs.

Subdividing a property looks to be a popular way forward for many property developers wanting to bring more houses to the market in highly dense places where houses are in demand.

Ensuring you understand the requirements and risks of subdividing property is imperative to giving yourself the best opportunity to have a successful development.

Doing each element properly throughout your process will allow your project to progress smoothly and stop the overall process from becoming overwhelming. Professionals are here to help, and they know what they are doing and have done it many times before.

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