In Brisbane, the term ‘splitter block’ is frequently used to describe subdividing a single block into two pieces, however, it’s actually used to refer to two blocks already split.
Often there is an existing house straddling both pieces of land. The great benefit for these rare gems is it eliminates the need for a development application to subdivide, along with the associated time and costs that go with it.
Splitter blocks are very sought after, but it’s important to do your research before you purchase, or the costs and complications of developing the wrong land could erode your profit margins.
We’ve put together a guide to purchasing a great splitter block in Brisbane, to help you select the right block to maximise your profit.
1. Demolition Control
Brisbane City Council divides land into zones, and these zones guide the land use or type of development that may occur on a site.
Council ‘demolition control precincts’ outline requirements for appropriate development in Brisbane’s older suburbs, for renovating, demolishing or removing some buildings such as heritage or character listed homes.
So how do you know if a home is demolition controlled? If you home fits into one or more of the following categories, it is likely to be a demolition- controlled property:
- Pre 1911 building (almost impossible to remove).
- Pre 1946 buildings in some areas
- Traditional Building Character (TBC)
- Heritage listing
You can research property controls using the Brisbane City Council City Plan interactive mapping tool, which allows you to view a property on a map to see if you have a site in a character or heritage building overlay.
This information will indicate if you can remove the house or need to retain the house dependent on the above overlays. Depending on the siting of the house on the block, a protected house could also be shifted across or built beside / behind, dependent on zoning.
2. Check Your Lot Sizes
Before you purchase, ensure you double check the advertised lot sizes with Brisbane City Council and your surveyor. Ideally, the street frontage of the combined properties should be at least 20 metres wide to accommodate two blocks, or at least 10 metres width. In some other cases you can divide down to a 7.5m frontage, but always double check with your town planner first.
3. Potential Flood, Overland flow and Contour Issues
As certain Brisbane areas and properties are vulnerable to flooding, you may require a property flood assessment. This can cost thousands of dollars, and a number of weeks to complete, and it’s important to complete this assessment BEFORE the sale of the block goes unconditional.
For properties affected by flood, the council website provides flood maps to indicate the location along with flood reports with detailed flood level information.
Similarly, a block with steep contours (slopes) may need additional excavation and retaining or cutting and filling and it’s again best you’re across the associated costs of this work BEFORE you go unconditional on the block.
It’s also important to check the property’s access to existing services including electricity, telecommunications, water and sewerage, and storm water, as these can have an impact on your build cost and even your build design. For instance, the location of a storm water drain running through your property may influence where you can build structures.
If not connected, connection fees for water, sewerage, electricity etc., all need to be factored in to planning and final costings.
5. Other Considerations
There are numerous other considerations that need to be factored in when developing a splitter block including:
- Building Approvals for new dwellings
- House demolition and removal (including possible safe asbestos removal)
- House reposition costs if sliding a current property to one side of the block
- Civil works if required
- Additional fencing and retaining or repairs.
And obviously there are the costs associated with marketing and selling a property such as advertising costs and real estate agent commissions, legal fees, property transfer costs etc.
Purchasing and developing a splitter block can be a complicated and potentially risky investment for inexperienced or naïve buyers. However, by researching the block properly to ensure you are aware of – and factor in – any development complications, it can greatly reduce your risk and ensure a smooth and profitable splitter block development.
Happy splitter block hunting!