Are you the right person / family to do a dual occupancy development?

I believe that most people greatly underestimate the complexity, time commitment and frustration involved in doing a dual occupancy development. In reality it is akin to running a small company and you are the C.E.O. There will be hundreds of decisions to make over at least a 2-year period and you will need to engage at least six professional consultants to help facilitate the process.


To find out if you have what it takes to successfully do a dual occupancy, you need to ask yourself the following four questions. I have personally done 20 residential developments over the last 30 years, so I will answer these four questions from my direct experiences, but it is important for you to answer these questions honestly and realistically for yourself.

1. What is your primary motivation for doing a development?

  • Freedom from maintaining a larger house and garden

  • To greatly reduce the running costs

  • Better security so you can “lock up and travel”

  • A change in family circumstances, i.e. grandchildren, retirement or separation / divorce.

  • A desire to have a new modern home.

  • To make money

2. How much time can I realistically devote to this development over the next 2 years?

  • The answer to this question is very important and in the end it will all come down to time versus money. The more time you have and the more tasks and responsibilities you take on yourself, the less you will have to pay for.

  • You will need to spend approximately 10 hours per week for the first year (design, town planning, documentation and permits) and approximately 6 or 7 hours per week for the second year (demolition, construction and landscaping) working on the project.

  • You will need to be highly organised from day 1 and have systems for dealing with the vast quantity of documents and information.


3. What skills and knowledge do I have and what will I need to learn?


4. What potential impacts on my life and my family will doing this development have?

  • I can’t really answer this question for you, but I do know that doing a dual occupancy development can be a life changing event.

  • The building of the new town houses is the easy part. Getting the right design and a town planning permit for what you want is the real challenge.

  • Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that you will actually get the town planning permit you want. There are always several design compromises you will need to make along the way to satisfy your neighbors and the council.

  • The other big challenge will be controlling the costs so that you are able to complete the project for your desired budget.


If this all sounds daunting and overwhelming, I would recommend that you engage a builder or development consultant that can project manage the whole process for you (see article C.6 “The advantages of using a design and construct building company”). You could also consider doing the project as a Joint Venture Development, which can be an excellent alternative if you would like to have the whole development and building process managed for you by a professional.


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