Why a Dual Occupancy is a Great Idea and How to Find the Right Builder

Why a Dual Occupancy is a Great Idea and How to Find the Right Builder
Nicholas FaillaDecember 2, 2020

Why Doing a Dual Occupancy is a Good Move and How to Find the Right Builder

Have you ever considered investing in the property market? In years gone by, this would mean purchasing an existing home and renting it out. But more recently, more and more regular Australians have begun leveraging their property to invest differently.

They are doing what is called a dual occupancy development. This means constructing two or more dwellings on a lot of land. These dwellings are then subdivided, so they end up on their own separate titles. There are some benefits to doing this sort of real estate development project.

In this article, we’re going to explore why undertaking a dual occupancy is a great idea. Then, we’re going to unpack how to find the right dual occupancy builders to partner with for this sort of project.

Why a Dual Occupancy Project?

There are several reasons why this sort of development is a wise choice for those looking to invest in property.

To begin with, if you already own a lot of land suitable to subdivision, you’re steps ahead of the pack already. For example, you may own a larger family home on a large piece of land. It might be a bit run-down and in need of some love. Or, you might own an investment property already - but the returns from rental yield are smaller, and you’re relying on the property increasing in value. This is called capital gains. 

Capital gains is a long-term game, and with fluctuations in the property market, it doesn’t always pay off. A dual occupancy, on the other hand, can generate some serious wealth.

Let’s say you do a standard dual occupancy where you build a pair of duplex properties. This means that they share a wall and are usually side-by-side or one behind the other. 

Once the properties are complete, you have a range of options. You can live in one dwelling and rent the other out. Some folks rent them both out. Or you could sell them both. Whichever investment option you choose you are looking at a tidy return.

Some people even partner up with friends or family to muscle into a suburb they could otherwise not afford. They buy a dilapidated house in their target suburb, then knock it down and build a dual occupancy on the lot so they can both live there.

Now that we’ve explained the reasons for doing a dual occupancy and why it’s a great idea, let’s talk about finding the right builder for your project.

How to Find a Dual Occupancy Builder

You mostly have two options here. You can choose what is known as a volume builder, or an independent. A volume builder is your big players. These vary from state to state, but they have billboards, a branded fleet, ads on TV, and rely on churning through builds for their revenue.

The other option is an independent builder. These are smaller companies who usually do just a few jobs at a time. Their owner is generally working on the job with the crew, and often you can’t tell the general from the soldiers.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of each type of dual occupancy builders. 

Volume Builders

Volume builders will be able to do the job quickly and efficiently. They’ll also have a basic cost structure so you can match a company to your budget. Because they rely on the sheer volume of builds, they can usually complete a project on time and to budget.

They also have a set menu of designs to choose from. If you’re time-pressed and want to finish your dual occupancy project, this could be a blessing. If you want more customisation and flexibility, this is a drawback. A major con to volume builders is that their designs only work on certain block types and dimensions. They can’t fit a square peg into a round hole so if your block has odd dimensions or doesn’t suit their designs you might be out of luck.

Also, in some cases, volume builders rely on subcontractors to finish a job. This can mean that the final build quality can sometimes be subpar. Sometimes this is the luck of the draw though, as other times it will be fine. 

Independent Builders

These are the little guys—the small to midsize businesses. Like the volume players, they have their ups and downs.

The biggest pro here is their flexibility and ability to customise a design and build. They have fewer procedures and strict rules to follow for their builds. You are only limited by your architect and designer and your plans. They can also be more allowing of any changes or updates during the build. Keep in mind that they will still bill you for any variations. They don’t work for free, like you. And why should anyone, for that matter?

An independent will also cost more. This is due to the flexibility, the ability to customise and the fact that they rely on each job for their income, unlike the volume builders where it is a numbers game. A custom build will also take longer. So if you have the endgame in sight - the sale of the property, you need to factor this into your thinking.

There is also the risk with an independent. Remember the law that if things can go wrong, they will. Sometimes an independent will go bust halfway through a build. You have less risk of this with a more prominent company. 
Even with these risks and drawbacks, a smaller builder will have more pride and quality in their build. You will end up with a unique dual occupancy that screams quality. 

Summing it All Up

There you have it. A dual occupancy can be a great choice of investment, whether you sell them off or rent them out. You can even live in them and use them as a lever to get into a target suburb.

We’ve also highlighted the pluses and minuses of choosing a volume builder versus an independent. This should have informed you how to pick a builder that is right for your needs. Good luck on your upcoming project!

Nicholas Failla

Nicholas is a content writer and graphic designer who is passionate about cities, architecture, urban planning and sustainable communities.

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