Many Councils allow for the construction of a second dwelling on land in residential zones however you must satisfy certain planning criteria to do so.

Depending on the Council, it may be an option to subdivide the land after construction is complete, resulting in separate titles for each dwelling.

The process:

Assess the feasibility of your site

Before committing large amounts of money into a potential dual occupancy or duplex development. A Feasibility Assessment identifies opportunities and constraints of a potential site and can assist by providing information relating to Council requirements for building setbacks, site coverage, private open space, car parking requirements etc.

Detail / Contour Survey

Preparing house design plans or preparing for a Development Application (DA) with your local Council will require a Land Surveyor to prepare a Detail Survey (also known as a Contour or Topographic Survey) of your property. A Detail Survey shows the existing features and structures within and adjacent to a parcel of land and allows your home builder or architect to assess the site and design your dual occupancy or secondary dwelling.

Development application

Council require a Detail Survey Plan as part of a DA or CDC. If you propose to subdivide the land following completion of construction a surveying company will need to prepare a Proposed Subdivision Plan to show the proposed location of buildings, boundaries, access ways, easements etc. It is possible (and we recommend) to get Council approval for the construction and subdivision of your dual occupancy in the one development application – most home builders will not tell you this as they do not want to deal with the subdivision side of things which then results in a more costly and more timely development process.


Following Council approval a Surveyor will need to set out the proposed building. Survey set-out of proposed buildings ensures the building is correctly positioned on the site and conforms to the approved design plans. At the completion of construction a Final Identification Survey Report is often a requirement of the Council prior to issue of the Occupation Certificate. This type of survey shows the location and levels of structures and improvements in relation to the boundaries of the land. The provision of services (electricity, water, telephone, sewer, stormwater etc.) to the new dwelling will be a requirement and this may involve the construction of an internal driveway.

Council contributions (known as Section 94 contributions) will apply for each additional dwelling (these may be up to $20,000 per additional dwelling). If the development involves the subdivision of the land a Registered Surveyor must prepare a Plan of Subdivision for lodgement and registration at the NSW Land Registry Services (LRS). Upon registration of this plan the new lots will be created and new Titles for each lot issued.

Thinking of building a dual occupancy or duplex on your land?
Complete our short enquiry form for a free quote.