A Guide to Subdivision in Western Australia

Costs Related To Subdividing Property In Western Australia

Please note, the costs and conditions discussed in this article have been written in relation to subdividing property in Western Australia. If you are considering subdividing property in areas outside of WA, I I recommend you seek advice from a local town planning / surveying consultant.

The reason for varying costs

There are many different estimates that get thrown around regarding the costs of subdividing land. In saying this, the wide varying estimates are to some extent valid as every particular subdivision has its own set of unique circumstances.

Below are some indicative costings and discussion as to what it may cost to undertake a typical 2 lot residential subdivision with an existing dwelling to be retained. In most circumstances, surveyor’s fees will not be too different between a 2, 3 or 4 lot subdivision, however, infrastructure servicing costs will increase.

Sewerage, Drainage & Plumbing

A licensed plumber is usually required to assist with sewerage and drainage plumbing. The discussion below relates to survey strata subdivision where PVC pipes are sufficient. Freehold (green title) subdivisions require a concrete pipe sewer extension to the Water Corporation’s sewer mains.

Sewer plumbing costs will vary depending on location and depth of the sewer mains. The position of the sewer connection will dictate how far, if at all, the internal property sewer will need to be extended to service the new lots. If an existing dwelling is to be retained and the existing internal sewer line traverses through the new lot/s, it is likely that the existing sewer line will need to be realigned to within 0.6m of the boundary.

A sewerage connection point will be required for the new survey strata lot/s. In Western Australia, the Water Corporation currently allow this to occur off the existing Inspection Shaft connection.

As the location of sewer infrastructure is site-specific, plumber’s fees will vary. In cases where the existing house is to be retained, from my experience, the cost of satisfying sewerage requirements for a 2 lot subdivision is generally upwards from $3,000+GST.

Drainage plumbing costs will again vary depending on site-specific circumstances. The requirement for whether drainage is required is largely dictated by the property’s soil type. Some Local Governments are happy for drainage to be resolved as part of the later building process. It would be unreasonable to provide an estimate for drainage costs as they can vary quite significantly and also largely depend on the proximity of the Local Government’s drainage network.


In Western Australia, the Water Corporation Headworks Contributions is around $6,000 (no GST) per additional lot being created. That means 1 x $6,000 for a 2 lot subdivision, 2 x $6,000 for 3 lot subdivision, and so on.


To install a green power dome (pillar) for a 2 lot subdivision, Western Power charge around $1,500 (no GST), around $2,000 for a 3 lot subdivision. When creating 4 or more lots, the costs are on a case-by-case basis and can increase quite significantly. This is largely due to the fact that the costs are not subsidized like they are for amalgamations and 2-3 lot subdivisions.

Licensed Electrician

If an existing dwelling is to be retained then the power to this dwelling will need to be converted from overhead to underground. An electrician will essentially provide an underground connection between the green dome and the existing dwelling, and also coordinate with Western Power for the removal of the overhead power line. If coordinated properly, the existing dwelling is generally left without power for only a few hours.

Again, the distance from the green pillar to the house and any encumbrances such as hard ground or concrete between the pillar and the house will influence overall costs. In my experience, 2,000+GST is a sufficient estimate for an underground power conversion for a 2 lot subdivision. For a 3 lot subdivision, a transmission board is required and the costs would generally be around $3,500+GST.

The Battle-axe Driveway

If undertaking a battle-axe subdivision (i.e. house behind house), then a constructed and drained driveway will need to be provided for access to the rear lot. This may already exist if the driveway for the rear lot will utilize the driveway for the existing dwelling.

The majority of Local Governments will allow a battle-axe driveway to be bonded, as they appreciate that it will be damaged by concrete trucks and other heavy vehicles during the construction of the rear dwelling. Some Local Governments will ‘clear’ the battle-axe construction condition if they are provided with 1.5 times the construction amount. If, for example, the cost of the new driveway will be $6,000 to construct, then the Local Government will require $9,000. This is fair and reasonable as there needs to be an incentive for the landowner to construct the driveway in due course. Upon the construction of the driveway the bond will be released. Alternatively, some Local Governments are willing to enter into a legal agreement, which costs in the order of $1,500. It should be noted, there is an increasing tendency for Local Governments requiring battle-axe driveways to be brick paved as opposed to concrete/bitumen for aesthetic purposes.

Cash-In-Lieu of Public Open Space

The Planning & Development Act now provides the potential for a subdivision approval condition to impose a monetary contribution in lieu of providing Public Open Space – this is only applicable to subdivisions comprising of 3 or more lots.

This condition has and continues to catch developers out when they least expect it. If a Cash-in-lieu of Public Open Space condition is imposed on a subdivision, then to satisfy the condition it will cost 10% of the unimproved valuation of the entire property. For example, on a property with an unimproved value of $600,000 the cost to ‘clear’ the condition would be $60,000. It is highly recommended that you research whether such a condition will be applicable for your property prior to embarking on a subdivision for 3 or more lots.

Surveying Related Costs

Surveyor’s fees will generally include client liaisons, a site feature and contour survey, the preparation of the subdivision plan, the management of the subdivision approvals process, final pegging, drafting of the Survey Strata Plan and the lodgement of plans with Landgate. As a general indication, $8,000 inc GST will be sufficient for a 2-3 lot subdivision including a number of Government related fees which amount to approximately $2,500.

Other Miscellaneous Costs

* Tree removal (not a condition of subdivision, but a possible cost if considering selling vacant lot/s)

* Filling in and compaction of any water bore on the new vacant lot/s

* Removal of clothesline from vacant lot and erection of new clothesline on house lot

* Fencing is not a condition of subdivision (unless property abuts a reserve), but a possible cost if considering selling lot/s

* Removal of redundant crossovers

* Shire contributions such as footpath and/or road upgrading

* Removal of existing garage/carport for existing dwelling if located within new lot

* Construction of new garage/carport and associated driveway and crossover for house lot

* For dual coded land (i.e. R20/30), then a cosmetic upgrade may be required for the existing dwelling

* Storeroom for existing dwelling to be provided

* For dual coded land it is reasonably common that unit designs will need to be prepared and approved by the Local Government prior to subdivision at the higher density code (i.e. R30 in the case of land coded R20/R30). In some cases the units need to be built prior to subdivision

* Settlement agent fees for making application for new titles

* Surveyor to assist landowner with managing completion of subdivision conditions

* Demolition of sheds/outbuildings etc – does it contain asbestos?

General Overview Of Total Cost And Time: The cheapest a 2 lot subdivision can reasonably be undertaken for is approximately $20,000 (where the entire property is vacant). For a 2 lot subdivision where an existing dwelling is to be retained, $30,000 will generally be sufficient. Due to servicing costs, it’s approximately $10,000 more for every additional lot to be created.

The quickest new titles can reasonably be created for vacant land subdivision is 4 months. In most cases, the process takes approximately 6-7 months where an existing dwelling is to be retained. The developer plays a major role in the eventual time frames as the quicker contractors and Government agencies are paid, the quicker the necessary paperwork can be sorted out and issue of new titles.