Five development danger zones

16/09/2011


Considering a development? don't get caught by one of these five common - and costly - problems.

There are several red flags that could spell the end of your development dream, if you don’t conduct proper due diligence upfront. Property lawyer David Singh from Conveyancing & Property Lawyers in Sydney, encourages investors to investigate these aspects of the property prior to purchase:

Covenant 
A covenant restricts an owner's right to do what they wish with the land. It is often concerned with building standards, or prohibits the use of land for some purposes. For instance, if you purchase a block of land, there could be a covenant that requires you to build a dwelling on that land within 12 months of settlement.

Easement
Find out prior to purchase if the property is subject to any easements, which give a party the right to use part of a neighbour’s land for a particular purpose. Examples include an easement for drainage, or a right of carriageway.

Research
Speak to your local council about any plans that you have for the property, and assess the constraints and opportunities – such as the likelihood of objection, either by the council, other government authorities or neighbours. Also, try and find out whether there are any approved or proposed developments in the neighbourhood that might affect your plans for the property.

Trees
A tree preservation order could apply to the land. In essence, this means that unless you have written permission from the local council, you are not permitted to cut a tree down or cut branches off trees, if the tree is greater than a certain height or wider than a certain width. Different Councils have different rules. Think about the cost of removing trees where they hinder your building plans or threaten to damage buildings or fences if they fall.

Land size
If you are buying a property with plans to eventually subdivide, you’ll need to locate a property that is situated on a large block of land. Depending on your plans, you might want to look for a property that is situated towards the front or the back of the block, to allow for easy subdivision and construction on the remaining land. However, if your goal is to knock down the existing home and construct two brand new properties – such as a duplex – then the exact location of the dwelling is less of a concern. This is why it is important to have a clear plan from the outset. Also, a house with a wide street frontage is ideal, as it lends itself to subdividing and redevelopment more readily than a property with a small street frontage.

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