What to look for in the right development site, Part 2

By Jo Chivers
Choosing the right area in which to develop is crucial. It requires research, research and more research.  It is also important to know what you are looking for in a site. Below are some characteristics to look for in your site.
The site selection criteria is based on the following.
Location of your development site is obviously important, we all know that being close to community amenities is top priority whether you are planning to keep your new dwellings or sell them, being close to schools and universities, shops, transport and medical facilities is very important.  You should check out the neighbours on all sides of the land to make sure there are no dog breeding kennels, chicken coups, car workshops or noisy businesses that may make the location undesirable for tenants. Ask the locals about crime rates and take a drive around the streets to get a ‘feel’ for the area. Trust your gut feel or intuition; we will often get an instant negative feeling if something is not quite right.
Aspect is the direction the land faces; north, south, east or west.  It’s important to have the living areas of your development as close to facing north as possible to maximise natural light.  Aspect is also very important for the energy rating of your development.
The slope of the block is important. Most people think a dead flat block may be good for developing, whilst it may be better than a steeply sloping site but you may need to build up the site with fill and retain it to meet drainage issues. So the ideal block will slope or fall slightly to the street which will assist with natural stormwater runoff and drainage. 
A wider frontage or width of the block is usually desirable particularly if you are looking at a medium density development as you will be losing some of the width to a driveway to access the rear dwellings. Some councils have a calculation as to how wide the driveway needs to be based on the number of dwellings. So make sure you have taken this into consideration and have a wide enough block. 
Depth is important and will determine how many dwellings you may get onto the land.  Be careful with very deep blocks as the deeper the block, the longer the driveway. A long driveway can add thousands to your costs. You may also need to run services such as sewer, water, gas and electricity from the front of the block to the back, depending on where the connection points for these services are located. 
What’s on top of the land?  For a quick assessment, take a look around to see how many large trees may need to be cleared, a mature gum tree can cost up to $5,000 to remove, so if there are a few of these, you will need to allow more for you site clearing costs. Also look out for asbestos sheds on concrete slabs which are expensive to remove. If there is an existing house that you plan to keep, check there is good access to the back of the block for the large site clearing machinery that may be required.
What’s underneath the land?   In some regional areas, you should check for old mines.  If you know it’s a mining area, then you can apply to the local mine board for a subsidence report.  You can still build over an old mine, but it adds considerable costs to correctly under pier the project for stability.
Is there a natural water course running under the land?  The soil type is also important. In most cases, you won’t know unless you commission a geotechnical report which is advisable to have done if after all your research you are sure this is the correct site. It may cost around $800 but worth every cent if it means you can more easily assess projects viability.  You will also need to know the location of the sewer line, sewer junctions and sewer manholes as some of these may be built over but one of them most certainly cannot.  You can request the sewer diagram from the agent or the local water authority.  A detailed survey will show other important things so again, if you are serious about the site, get a detail/contour survey done as you will need this to have a builder or architect work on a design for your project.

“I was bitten by the property bug, there was no turning back.”

Jo Chivers proves that women can indeed have it all- a career that you are passionate about and a family.  While all of this sounds great, it does require hard work, dedication, perseverance and a bit of risk-taking.

Jo’s love of property development inspired her to leave her corporate career and pursue her true passion. After educating herself in property investing, she started building up her own property portfolio. After purchasing a few blue chip properties in Sydney, she soon realised how negatively geared they were and began researching outside of Sydney. She discovered a more affordable, large region of NSW where she completed her first property development.  Soon her friends were asking her to find them sites and manage their developments. 

She realised there was a need for an all encompassing project management service and her business Property Bloom™ was born.  Ten years down the track, she has developed over 60 properties for clients, creating literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity and high end yields.