Tips on Subdividing a Property (North Carolina)

7 Replies

This is my first time subdividing a property, and would appreciate tips. The subject property is on 3.4 acres, with the main home and a mobile home. The previous owner had attempted to subdivide, but the mobile home was 4 feet too close to the main home to be allowed to subdivide the property. I'm going to remove the existing mobile home, and replace with a new MH that will be over the required line, so that I can then subdivide. Is the order to get the property surveyed, then to to the town, then go to the closing attorney (NC uses attorneys, not title companies, for closings)? Or, is there a different order or other steps to consider?

@Sean McDonnell Thanks for the quick response, Sean. I think that article was way above my pay grade (too complicated for what I need to know). I really just want to divide one lot into two, and learn the order of the process.

Hi Adam,  If you haven't done this already, I would suggest talking with the local officials.  Doesn't cost anything and they can guide if there are any pitfalls or concerns with your particular lot, etc, as well as give you a step by step to get your lot subdivided.  

Typically you would do some due diligence to make sure your not wasting money and spinning your wheels for an ultimate disappointment.  But, once relatively confident the subdivision will go through... Hire an Engineer/Surveyor to prepare the plot plan for you.  Then submit to the local municipality or county (whichever the case) for review and approval (the plans can show the existing mobile home with a note "To Be Removed"--that way you don't need to spend the money now to remove it.  There may be several steps and submissions before final approval but the local gov staff should be able to guide you on procedures.  Best Wishes!!

Joe

@Adam Schneider Hi there, I will echo what @Joseph Guckavan stated above. I am doing this in Johnston County and I think each county is probably slightly different but the folks at the county office were very helpful. However I found that its best to ask a ton of questions! They have all the info and will provide it, but they aren't investors and so don't always give details that you might logically expect them to provide. Also consider talking to the surveyor at the same time and make sure their info jives with what the County said. BTW: I was surprised by the cost of surveyor when the area is bigger and the length of time before it is fully recorded! Lastly, if the lots are not going to have city water/sewer and would need well & Septic then a soil scientist might be needed to tell you where a well/septic could go which might affect the lines the surveyor cuts. We should catch up sometime soon. Happy Holidays!

Originally posted by @Adam Schneider :

This is my first time subdividing a property, and would appreciate tips. The subject property is on 3.4 acres, with the main home and a mobile home. The previous owner had attempted to subdivide, but the mobile home was 4 feet too close to the main home to be allowed to subdivide the property. I'm going to remove the existing mobile home, and replace with a new MH that will be over the required line, so that I can then subdivide. Is the order to get the property surveyed, then to to the town, then go to the closing attorney (NC uses attorneys, not title companies, for closings)? Or, is there a different order or other steps to consider?

Very good responses above. Below is the path, more or less, I went on in a similar (but different) exploratory scenario of 'subdividing' property. The thing about NC is that the word "subdivision" is used both as a noun and a verb in regulatory (statutory) context. In my world, "subdividing" doesn't create a "subdivision" which seems counter intuitive. Thankfully, many counties have what I call a "one and done" split (called a "first lot out" in the article linked by @Sean) where you can carve up a parcel like yours without having to follow subdivision ordinances. 

Regarding "Is the order to get the property surveyed, then to to the town, then go to the closing attorney (NC uses attorneys, not title companies, for closings)? Or, is there a different order or other steps to consider?" My response is #1: Talk to the town, if that's the jurisdiction. Otherwise, talk to the county where the land is located. Planning and zoning. The main topics you need to bring up are boundary/plat requirements (setbacks), utility connections, and obtaining permits. Probably don't need a 911 address since there is an existing structure.  Zoning shouldn't be an issue given the prior owner tried and fell 4' short. Also, have a copy of the existing recorded plat with you, although the people in planning can look it up. Best if you get/understand the forms upfront for MH demolition requirements and MH placement. Two different forms in the small number of NC counties I've dealt with. 

#2: After completing #1, your question should be answered! When you talk to town planning, ask for a list of surveyors and trades people (specifically well and septic at the Environmental Health Department) since you'll need these permits even if there is an existing well and septic since you are technically performing an alteration. From there, you can inquire about survey requirements, then involve an attorney for recording. 

In most counties placing a mobile home carries with it some overhead, like identifying trades people on the form (example, JoCo), applying for changed well and septic (Environmental Health Department permits), and providing the new parcel plat. 

One thing to consider in some counties, like Columbus county, where existing septic systems can sometimes be problematic. An existing system that otherwise may be considered "working" may not fly under new regulations. Check with the county EHD about the status upfront (that's part of #1 above) and try to anticipate issues beforehand. As mentioned above, soil scientists are key and knowing your soil type and the parcel's permit history can only help. 

Hope that helps. 

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