How to Subdivide Land in 6 Steps

How to Subdivide Land in 6 Steps

Subdividing land is the process of dividing a single piece of property into two or more smaller parcels. This can be a complex process that requires careful planning and execution. Whether you are looking to subdivide land for development purposes, to create a family compound, or to sell off a portion of your property, there are many factors that must be considered. In this article, we will discuss the steps involved in subdividing land, as well as the legal and financial considerations that must be taken into account.

Step 1: Conduct a Feasibility Study

The first step in subdividing land is to conduct a feasibility study. This study will help you determine whether or not your property can be subdivided, and if so, how many lots can be created. A feasibility study typically includes a site analysis, a review of zoning and land use regulations, and an analysis of the local real estate market.

Site Analysis

A site analysis involves evaluating the physical characteristics of the property, such as its topography, soil conditions, and drainage patterns. This information will help you determine where the new lots can be located and how they should be configured. For example, if your property has steep slopes or wetlands, these areas may need to be excluded from the subdivision.

Zoning and Land Use Regulations

The next step in the feasibility study is to review the zoning and land use regulations that apply to your property. These regulations will dictate the minimum lot size, setbacks, and other requirements for the new lots. It is important to work closely with local officials to ensure that your subdivision plan complies with all applicable regulations.

Real Estate Market Analysis

Finally, you should conduct a real estate market analysis to determine whether there is demand for the type of properties you plan to create. This analysis should include a review of recent sales of similar properties in the area, as well as an analysis of current market trends.

Step 2: Develop a Subdivision Plan

Once you have completed a feasibility study, the next step is to develop a subdivision plan. This plan should include a detailed layout of the new lots, as well as any new roads, utilities, and other infrastructure that will be required.

The subdivision plan should be designed to minimize the impact on the natural environment, while also maximizing the value of the new lots. It is important to work closely with a professional land surveyor and civil engineer to ensure that the plan meets all applicable regulations and can be implemented effectively.

subdivision approval

Step 3: Obtain Approvals

Before you can begin subdividing your property, you will need to obtain a number of approvals from various agencies and organizations in the local county. These approvals may include:

  • Zoning approval: This approval confirms that your subdivision plan complies with all applicable zoning regulations.
  • Land use approval: This approval confirms that your subdivision plan complies with all applicable land use regulations.
  • Subdivision approval: This approval confirms that your subdivision plan meets all applicable requirements for the creation of new lots.
  • Environmental permits: Depending on the nature of your subdivision, you may need to obtain permits from state or federal environmental agencies.
  • Utility approvals: You may need to obtain approvals from local utility companies for the installation of new water, sewer, or electrical lines.

Step 4: Prepare and Record Legal Documents

Once you have obtained all necessary approvals, the next step is to prepare and record legal documents related to the subdivision. These documents may include:

    • Subdivision plat: This document is a map that shows the new lot boundaries and any new roads or easements that have been created.
    • Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs): This document outlines the rules and regulations that will govern the new lots, such as restrictions on building height or use of the property.
    • Easements: These documents grant rights of way to utilities or other parties that need access to the subdivision, such as a neighboring property owner.
    • It is important to work closely with an attorney to ensure that these documents are drafted correctly and comply with all applicable laws and regulations. Once they have been prepared, they must be recorded with the appropriate government agencies.

Step 5: Install Infrastructure

Once the legal documents have been recorded, the next step is to install the necessary infrastructure to support the new lots. If you are just subdividing land in order to sell them, you are not required to do these by any means unless otherwise directed by the county. 

  • Roads: New roads may need to be constructed to provide access to the new lots.
  • Utilities: Water, sewer, and electrical lines may need to be installed to provide service to the new lots.
  • Drainage: A new drainage system may need to be installed to manage stormwater runoff from the subdivision.

It is important to work closely with a professional civil engineer and construction contractor to ensure that the infrastructure is installed correctly and meets all applicable regulations.

Subdivide land to sell

Step 6: Sell or Develop the New Lots

Once the infrastructure has been installed, the new lots can be sold or developed. If you are selling the lots, it is important to work with a real estate agent who has experience in selling land. They can help you determine the best pricing strategy and marketing plan to attract potential buyers.

If you are developing the new lots yourself, you will need to work with a team of professionals, including architects, builders, and contractors, to design and construct the new homes or buildings.

Legal and Financial Considerations

In addition to the steps outlined above, there are several legal and financial considerations that must be taken into account when subdividing land. These include:

  • Tax implications: Subdividing land can have tax implications, including property taxes and capital gains taxes. It is important to work with a tax professional to understand the potential tax implications of your subdivision project.
  • Financing: Subdividing land can be expensive, and you may need to obtain financing to cover the costs of the project. It is important to work with a lender who has experience in financing land development projects.
  • Liability: When you subdivide land, you may be creating new potential liability risks. For example, if a new road is constructed as part of the subdivision, you may be liable for accidents that occur on the road. It is important to work with an attorney to understand your potential liability and to take steps to mitigate your risk.
  • Eminent domain: In some cases, the government may need to exercise its power of eminent domain to acquire a portion of your property for public use. It is important to work with an attorney to understand your rights and to ensure that you receive fair compensation for any property taken.

Getting the County Involved

There are several different county departments that are involved in managing and regulating land use and development. These departments typically work together to ensure that land development is carried out safely, responsibly, and in compliance with local regulations. Some of the most important county departments that work with land include:

Planning Department: The planning department is responsible for developing and enforcing land use plans and regulations. They work to ensure that new development is consistent with the local zoning laws and that the development plan meets all environmental and safety standards.

Building Department: The building department is responsible for issuing building permits, conducting building inspections, and ensuring that new construction meets all building codes and safety standards.

Environmental Department: The environmental department is responsible for enforcing environmental regulations and protecting the natural resources in the area. They review development plans and ensure that they comply with environmental laws and regulations.

Public Works Department: The public works department is responsible for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, and drainage systems. They ensure that new development is served by adequate infrastructure and that the infrastructure is designed and constructed to meet all safety standards.

Assessor's Office: The assessor's office is responsible for maintaining property records and assessing property values for tax purposes. They play an important role in the land development process by providing information on property ownership, value, and tax status.

County Surveyor's Office: The county surveyor's office is responsible for surveying and mapping land and maintaining accurate records of land ownership and boundaries. They are essential to the subdivision process, as they help to ensure that new lots are accurately surveyed and recorded.

Zoning Board: The zoning board is responsible for reviewing and approving or denying requests for variances or exceptions to the local zoning laws. They play an important role in ensuring that new development is consistent with the local zoning regulations.

Subdividing land can be a complex process that requires careful planning and execution. By following the steps outlined above and working closely with a team of professionals, you can successfully subdivide your property and create new opportunities for development or sale. However, it is important to understand the legal and financial considerations involved and to work with experienced professionals to ensure that your subdivision project is successful.


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