What is Residential Subdivision?Types of Subdivision Developments

What is a Residential Subdivision? Types of Subdivision Developments

What is a Residential Subdivision?

A residential subdivision is the split of a lot or parcel of land into two or more lots, sites, or other divisions of property for the purpose of constructing a development for residential purposes with residences constructed on each lot.

This includes re-subdivision and, where suitable to the context, relates to the process of subdividing or to the land or territory subdivided.

Residential subdivisions are thus a type of planned community of lots and housing for people to live.

Some subdivisions have large common areas of land that is owned by a real estate developer or company, while others have smaller common areas that are owned by the individual homeowners.

In some residential subdivisions, entire buildings may be owned together as condominiums.

Residential subdivisions come in many shapes and sizes from small ones with just a few dozen houses to larger developments with hundreds or even thousands of houses on them.

Subdivisions are the process of dividing land into smaller parcels that can be sold or developed more easily. Subdivision refers to the previous unitary unit in its entirety. Subdivisions can be simple, with just one seller and buyer involved, or complex, with enormous tracts of land divided into numerous smaller portions.

A housing subdivision or housing development is commonly referred to as such, while some developers prefer to refer to these places as communities.

Residential Subdivisions History

Subdivisions were often the initial step toward the incorporation of new towns and cities in the United States.

A popular 19th-century tool for tackling urban sprawl into farmland is still the Lot and Block survey system, which underpins modern ideas about subdivision.

Despite the fact that this technique of property identification was effective for conveyance, it failed to address the overall implications of growth and the necessity of an all-encompassing approach to community development planning.

The Coolidge administration founded the Advisory Committee on City Planning and Zoning in the 1920s, and its first assignment was the release of The Standard State Zoning Enabling Act in 1926, model legislation for use by state legislatures, in 1926.

In 1928, the Standard City Planning Enabling Act (SCPEA) was published as a result.

Six topics were addressed by the SCPEA:

  • The power and organization of planning commissions, which were tasked with creating and adopting a master plan.
  • Secondly, the master plan’s structure.
  • For a master street plan, there should be
  • Provisions for the planning commission’s approval of all public improvements.
  • Control over property subdivision by private parties.
  • Creating regional planning commissions is also addressed in this section.

Types of Subdivision

Subdivision can be divided into two categories:

Subdivision of freehold (green-title) property

In a freehold lot, single-house lots are also defined as properties that are built independently of each other.

Survey strata parcels with no shared property are referred to as ‘single home’ lots for subdivision and planning purposes (refer to definitions under the Residential Design Codes).

Strata Subdivision

“Grouped Dwelling” lots refer to Strata Subdivision properties that are owned by individuals but are part of a larger group and often include “shared property” (refer definitions under the Residential Design Codes).

Is it Possible to Subdivide This Land?

The following conditions must be met before land can be subdivided:

Unless the proposed lot size is greater than 700 square meters, the property must be connected to deep sewerage.

As defined by the Residential Design Codes, a block of land must be large enough to be subdivided.

According to the Residential Design Codes (‘R-Codes’), the minimum and average lot sizes permitted in each zone are detailed in Design Element 1 – Housing Density Requirements in the R-Codes.

Rear battle-ax lots without any common property have different size requirements than lots with common property or in a non-battle-ax configuration.

A 4.0m wide vehicle access to the rear blocks is normally needed. Vehicle access from a laneway often necessitates a minimum of 1.5m wide pedestrian access. The use of a laneway to gain access to a property is not always permitted and may be subject to specific conditions.

In accordance with the Development Control Policy, a contribution to public open space may be required. Residential Areas – Public Open Space.

Types of Subdivision Developments

Rural residential

This is a rural development of huge lots where most of the undeveloped space is provided by the individual lots. Street width and sidewalks may be modified in rural subdivisions, with the following standards.

  • Lot widths of at least 150 feet are required.
  • One acre (43,560 net square feet) is the minimum lot size for this subdivision.
  • Common area requirements, based on the number of net acres, shall be as follows:
  • For subdivisions of one to fifteen lots, the tax rate is 0%.
  • For subdivisions of sixteen (16) or more lots, 5% is applied.
  • All regulations of the Zoning Ordinance have to be followed in order for a building to be permitted.
  • If the Town Council agrees, some alterations to the off-site improvement requirements may be possible.

Suburban residential.

Medium-sized lots for detached conventionally built residences in all the Zoning Districts and for manufactured homes are proposed for single-family residential development.

There will be more public improvements (such as wider streets and sidewalks) in a suburban subdivision, as well as more public unbuilt common areas.

Urban residential.

This is a typical single-family residential development with modest lots for conventionally built homes. Because of the rising population and traffic, the city will have to make more public improvements and set aside more undeveloped common space.

Multiple-family development.

Development of detached single-family homes, attached and multi-family homes, or cluster development as part of an approved PUD in places that are fit for purpose, taking into account current and future land use needs and the availability of utilities.

Mountainside development.

A single-family detached home, a multi-family connected home, or a cluster of single-family homes in a PUD approved development on the property with a natural topography slope of fifteen percent (15%) or more.

Planned unit development (PUD).

Residential Unit Development Planned Units. Mixed residential land uses, including single-family homes, condominiums, patio homes, and cluster complexes, are included in the plan.

Commercial development.

Commercial development as a conventional subdivision or as part of an approved PUD in locations that are suitable and appropriate, taking into consideration adjacent land uses, size and scale of development, traffic and availability of utilities.

Residential Subdivision Benefits

  • Subdivision of residential land will continue to provide new homes, reduce the price of building houses and increase land value.
  • Subdivision limits the current and future impacts on greenfield sites.
  • Encourages efficient use of land in urban centers and gets buildings closer to services (such as roads).
  • Increases infrastructure efficiency in terms of provision of services (more people per water main, for example).
  • Easier for utility companies to install new infrastructure.
  • Reduces the amount of green space to be left unused.
  • Encourages use of ‘green’ materials in buildings.

Residential Subdivision Challenges

Subdivision of residential land is a complex process that requires detailed coordination and marketing to achieve the most favorable outcome for all parties involved, including:

Strong community commitment is required to retain ‘Greenfields’.

Development control policies, such as SDCA, need to be followed.

Procedures will have to be carried out in order to provide the infrastructure required.

On-site improvements will have to be approved.

Provision of adequate off-site improvement (e.g., new roads, water mains and sewage works being extended to the new lots) must be considered.

Consultation with residents near the subdivision site is vital in order to defeat potential opposition. The main reasons people oppose subdivisions were caused by aesthetic and environmental concerns (1996).

Subdivisions Impact on the Environment

An increase in density means more people will be moving into an area and therefore, more pollution will be generated as more cars are driving through a busy street.

Pervasive and large-scale development increases the stress on land services (such as roads, water supply, and sewers) by more people, changing the rate of these services.

“There is a corresponding increase in vehicle traffic, with an associated increase in emissions.” Additionally, if we subdivide residential land into smaller lots, it will force people to live closer to each other which will result in more cars on the road.

Green Areas Protection: Some people want to preserve green areas. Subdivisions will alter and/or destroy green areas.

All developers have to abide by the subdivision regulations, so unless a developer wants to preserve a green area, they will have to take necessary actions.

Residential Development & the Environment

The negative effects associated with subdivisions can be minimized through the utilization of alternative development methods.

“On-site development may be subject to intensive automated or manual technologies, or may be implemented on an organic basis, including the use of natural vegetation and materials.”

Natural development and conventional development take a lot of space. So, they also damage the environment and require large amounts of resources.

Reuse of existing buildings is a strategy that is already been used to protect the environment while they can provide alternative places to live.

Aesthetic Concerns

Subdivision of residential land will change the existing landscape.

“Building type, lot size and orientation, street networks and massing will affect the visual character of a neighborhood.”

Landscape is a very important component of the environment that is why it can be considered as one of the factors in preserving green areas. Moreover, most people want their subdivisions to have a natural appearance so that they could preserve the surrounding landscape.

Safety: The number of people moving through a neighborhood, as a result of subdivision, could potentially increase the risk of accidents.

“The frequency of traffic accidents is proportional to the number of vehicles on the road.”

As the amount of residential subdivision increases, so will the number of vehicles on our roads. As a result, there will be more accidents occurring.

Subdivision affects our landscape and increases pollution on the environment but there are strategies that we can use in order to minimize these effects and preserve our land.


The number of people moving through a neighborhood, as a result of subdivision, could potentially increase the risk of accidents. “The frequency of traffic accidents is proportional to the number of vehicles on the road.”

As the amount of residential subdivision increases, so will the number of vehicles on our roads. As a result, there will be more accidents occurring.

Subdivision affects our landscape and increases pollution on the environment but there are strategies that we can use in order to minimize these effects and preserve our land.

In summary

Residential subdivision approval is the first step in the subdivision process.

Subdividing a property requires approval of the site plan by a professional surveyor and approval of the building permit issued by city agencies, such as zoning and planning departments.

The approval of zoning rezoning is required before subdividing your property. Your city and county government offices should have details about zoning regulations and other information you need to know.

Residential Subdivisions FAQs

What are Residential Subdivisions?

Residential subdivision is the process of creating smaller lots from a larger lot. Single family and multi-family residential subdivisions are usually done by a surveyor to reduce the size of a large parcel of land into several small lots.

The process allows for buyers to purchase several small lots without having to buy the entire property.

The benefits of residential subdivision?

Buyers are able to purchase a small lot at affordable prices, and sellers benefit from having multiple lots for sale without having to sell their company or labor.

Residential subdivision challenges?

Resident opposition is always a threat when applying for subdivisions.

How long does it take to obtain approval?

In most cases the process takes 2-6 business days. Also, there are many steps involved in the process that can affect the timing of the approval process. Subdivision approval can take up to 6 months if all permits and inspections are complete.

How do I apply for a subdivision?

There are several websites that provide information on how to get started with your residential subdivision.

Are subdivisions allowed in my area?

Whether or not subdivisions are allowed in your area is highly dependent on the zoning of your neighborhood. Some subdivisions are discouraged because of the negative effects they can bring to it’s residents. Please check with your local zoning laws before you apply for subdividing your property.

Subdivision guidelines?

They are:

  • Do not subdivide a property in excess of 10 acres.
  • Use a professional land surveyor to prepare your site plan.
  • Choose a site that is well drained, level, and has a slope of no more than 5%.
  • Have your plans reviewed by the Bureau of Engineering
  • Subdivisions must be approved by building permit first.

What is the importance of residential subdivision?

Residential subdivision provides affordable housing for residents. It allows buyers to purchase affordable lots and make their own decisions on how their property should be designed and developed.

In California, there are a lot of land designated for residential subdivision, however the process can be complicated due to many restrictions and guidelines imposed in it.

What does subdivision mean in real estate?

“Subdivision” refers to the division of a lot, tract, or parcel of property into two or more lots, plats, sites, or other divisions of land for the purpose of sale or building development, immediate or future. It can be done by the owner of property or through a contractor.

What are the restrictions in residential subdivision?

The rules and regulations imposed on housing subdivisions must be followed to avoid any legal problems.

Types of subdivisions are?

They include:

  • Rural subdivision- divided into 5 or more parcels.
  • Freehold subdivision- a subdivision done by the owner of the property.
  • Unit title subdivision- a subdivision done by a contractor
  • Cross lease- a real estate agreement between two people

Who is involved in the subdivision approval process?

Land surveyors- who are required to prepare and submit site plans approved by city planning, building, and later zoning departments.

Building inspector- who inspect the sites and provide necessary permits for final approval by the city departments.

Landowners- who own the property lines and can decide on what has to be done for the subdivision approval.

How do I know if a lot is subdivided?

If it appears that a lot is subdivided, check the boundaries of your property. Boundary lines are established by law and are not negotiable. If you have questions about the boundaries of your property, contact the person or agency who prepared the deed.

What are some problems you might encounter when subdividing your land?

Neighbor opposition- people who oppose your subdivision might cause unnecessary delays which will delay the procedure and costs for building permit approval.

Excessively steep slopes- the use of a steeper slope in the subdivision can cause problems and danger for construction crews.

Wildlife habitat- always be aware of any threatened or endangered species that are living in the area you intend to develop.

What will be included in your final approval?

The approval that you will receive for subdivision is a permit issued by your local government offices. This permit states that your land is eligible for residential conversion.

The approval will include a building permit that states that the land is eligible for building construction and that the construction will be in accordance with local zoning regulations.

You will also be provided with a plat map showing the location of all lots to be subdivided and the final subdivision plan. Before you apply, read up on your complete route to subdivision approval.

What is the process of residential subdivision?

In general, the process consists of six steps:

  1. Prepare a survey plan.
  2. Prepare a plat plan.
  3. Obtain approval from local authorities.
  4. Prepare and file legal documents.
  5. Record legal documents.
  6. Issue stock certificates.

However, it can be done in different ways


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