Property Development Trends for Western Australia

November 10 2013
Choosing a development site

When choosing a development site in Western Australia, cheaper is not always better.

The location of the site, the topography of the land, the shape of the block, the zoning, and if the site has limestone or clay are massive variables that need to be factored into the success of your development.

Site reports:

By investing in a contour site survey and engineers report, your builder can give you a very good snap shot picture on how much your development will cost. You can sign an offer and acceptance subject to feasibility on the project. It is wiser to invest a little money upfront than to not have a successful development. Check on the past use of the site, this can be instrumental in knowing what kinds of soil reports or environmental checks will be needed for the future safety of the property’s tenants.

Zoning and Planning:

It’s not enough to just know what your block is zoned for, but what the future of the suburb will look like, and allow in your area. Check with the local council and ask to view future planned works and proposed zoning changes. You don’t want to be caught out in a few years’ time when approval is given to build a high-rise right next door, or worse. Perth and surrounds councils have combined recently, so make sure you research which one you now fall under.

The Slope:

While you can certainly see if a block slopes quite a bit, to the naked or untrained eye the challenges with building on a sloped block might not be immediately apparent. The steeper the slope, the more retaining wall and drop footings are required which means the more expensive the general works are going to be. If your new home is to be cut into the slope, then drainage and basement construction might be needed for stability.


The position of the site in regards to shopping districts, bus and train routes and open space such as parks have a greater desire for the purchaser when you want to sell one of your units or a tenant if your goal is to rent them out. If you have developed a site that has a lot of appeal to a wider range of potential buyers then you will be able to sell or rent it out at a premium. With the urban sprawl continuing unabated in Perth, having access to public transport is a big plus to many people.

The Blueprints:

The trick for success is to identify which designs and what specification will best suit your site. We don’t expect you to have this skill set, even many builders and sales consultants are not capable of doing it well. A builder that specialises in unit developments, and has a design department that does this all day, every day, and sales consultants that do this work fulltime should have the skills and resources to accurately assess your site before you settle. Making sure that your property is ‘green’ or complies with environmental standards set by your council is a must.

Investing in your investment:

Sometimes spending a few extra thousand dollars extra on each unit will get you tens of thousands of dollars more when you sell, and sometimes you need to down scale you’re project. It is all about matching the location of your site, what will appeal to a tenant or a purchaser, and packaging it in the most desirable and economically viable way. Building in Perth, you have to be smart about who the customer is, not what appeals to you.

Working with experienced property development professionals:

You can improve your odds at a successful development by partnering with professional organisations that are prepared to work with you and give you sound advice. One hard lesson for many is that you should not make the development personal. Usually you will not live in the end product, so don’t spend extra money on items that you like as it will not yield you higher rental or increase the end sale price.

Video: How to Choose a Property Development Site

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