Subdivide or not?

10 Replies

I own a 3 Family property. On 1.4acres, there is one Duplex ( 2 1BR, 1BA) and a single family ( 3BR, 1BA) I bought the property for 315K. I have 305K left. I have seriously been considering subdividing the two houses. They currently share a well and septic. Both well and septic are on the duplex side, so I will have to put the new ones on the single family. The single family and one of the duplex units also share a driveway.

I was thinking, Put a new septic (15-20K), new well ( 5-10K) and redo driveway (10k???)

Unsure how much the subdividing process costs, but curious if it is worth it.

A Duplex can go anywhere from 270-300K, and a single family can go for 230-270.

Any opinions??

@Sean Connolly Hey Sean, I’m wondering what ever happened with your deal I found a property just like yours and there’s room for plenty of profit as I see it but I’m not sure about the hidden costs and government red tape I might encounter. Did you have any luck?

Hey Jason,  get ready for a fun ride. I have just about hit the one year mark since I contacted the civil engineer. Everything has been behind schedule. Being this is my first time doing this, it could be normal, or it could be the team I chose. The land has been surveyed. I ended up with a third buildable lot, which was a plus. Lot needed septic approval from town. Then stormwater drainage report. Site plan approval and now waiting on a letter of buildability. In all for me to subdivide. I’m right around 12k in. I wish I could tell you everything turned out great but we’re not there yet! I will keep you posted. If I were to do this again, I would just be expecting everything to be behind schedule and the cost to be more than expected. Good luck. 

@Sean Connolly I am very curious to see if you had any luck in subdividing the land and if the property is located in MA, which town it is in. I just purchased a house in Wayland that is zoned multi-family where there is a larger single-family home with an in-law suite attached. It is on 1-acre lot and I am fortunate the house is located closer to the border line, which I figured would create more clearance on the other side to create a lot. I would have to move the septic, which is now to the right of the home, towards the back to clear it out of the new lot. I asked my general contractor about the idea. He thinks I could build 6 townhouses on the new lot and notices a couple of positives. The neighbor to the right was converted to a 2-unit condo a few years ago and I am located in an area that has more commercial, rather than residential, properties compared to the rest of town. These factors would mean I would get fewer objections from the town. I hear approvals differs from town to town, and even sometimes from whoever works at the town office. 

Hey Charles. I was successful in subdividing the property, but luck was not on my side! It took years and about 4x the estimated costs. My best advice is to talk to professionals who are well established in Wayland, as they would have an easier time dealing with town officials, if they have a good reputation. I’m assuming you have already looked into zoning bylaws that tell you the minimum square footage and frontage required to subdivide. My property is in Westport, and I believe each town is very unique in their zoning bylaws. I had a great engineer, and a knowledgeable attorney do the work for me as well. Hope this helps. 

@Sean Connolly Thanks for the insight. I had assumed from neighbors whom have 59 and 82 feet of frontage that those would be the minimum requirement for new lots. But I just took a quick look at the town's code/bylaws. Its not in plain English, but it seems the requirement is a minimum of 120 feet for new build-able lots. I may want to consult a local lawyer anyway to confirm it and explore other options such as building an addition (perhaps a carriage house).

I would say that if you’re looking to hold the property, keeping it one lot and putting another building would probably be less hoops to jump through. Another big issue is if it’s town water/sewage or well/septic. If it’s well septic then it limits the amount of bedrooms you can have on square footage.

Originally posted by @Charles Situ :

@Sean Connolly Thanks for the insight. I had assumed from neighbors whom have 59 and 82 feet of frontage that those would be the minimum requirement for new lots. But I just took a quick look at the town's code/bylaws. Its not in plain English, but it seems the requirement is a minimum of 120 feet for new build-able lots. I may want to consult a local lawyer anyway to confirm it and explore other options such as building an addition (perhaps a carriage house).

you know in most cities you simply walk into the planning department and talk with a planner and have them walk you through the zoning codes and there will be clear cut language what is allowed out right and what takes a use permit at staff level and what needs to go to the planning commission etc.   Looking at your map though it seems like a prime infill project..  But start at city hall for free then work backwards.. or a good local civil engineer that might give you a free one hour look see.. or just spend 500 to 1000 on the civil for a written report based on the codes.