How to Subdivide a Property

Subdivision

Subdividing a plot of land can be an enormous headache without good planning and some excellent advice. With an experienced real estate broker and an attorney at your side, it is possible to navigate the process with relative ease.

As with any project that involves government bureaucracy, it is always best to proceed with a great deal of patience. Moreover, it is helpful to bear in mind that appeals and waivers may be available when it seems that local officials are initially unable to comply with requests for subdivision. A knowledgeable real estate broker once again may prove to be a valuable resource for this process.

It is crucial for property owners to be aware that there is no universal process for subdividing land. Federal, state, county, city and other laws may come into play. Accordingly, the process that is outlined below is a general overview of the typical steps that are required to subdivide land. Your experience may vary depending upon whether your property is located in Seminole County, Volusia County or elsewhere in Florida.

Why Does Property Need to be Subdivided?

Several viable reasons exist for subdividing land. Usually, a homeowner with a good-sized plot decides to divide it in two so that another house may be built there. This land may be sold to someone else or the original owner may retain the title. In alternative circumstances, a larger piece of land needs to be divided among multiple family members of other owners. Property investors may want to divide up an even larger plot to create an entire new subdivision for commercial or residential purposes. The reason for the subdivision of the original parcel of land may play a significant role in whether or not the subdivision gets approved, and it also may effect the precise requirements for approval.

Contact Your Local Planning or Zoning Office

This is nearly always the first step in the process. The planning or zoning office can tell you how the subdivision process works in the specific area where the property is located. The local planning or zoning office also can provide you with valuable information about the land. For instance, you’ll need to know all about the current zoning and about minimum lot sizes. It may be that your land is not large enough to be divided into two parcels according to local regulations.

The zoning office also may tell you whether or not the lot is buildable. Obviously, this is critical if you or the new owner of the subdivided lot plan any sort of construction for the property. Getting a permit for this construction also is required.

Consult a Lawyer or City Planner

The local planning office has a great deal of information for you, but they may not have the expertise you need to ensure that it is safe to move forward with subdividing your property. At this stage, it is critical that you consult with a property lawyer or a town planner to ensure that there are no laws or regulations that might prevent you from moving forward with your project.

You may discover that there is much more to consider than you envisioned at first. Water rights, access and right-of-way may all come into play. There’s a possibility that street improvements may be required, and there may be numerous applications and forms to complete and submit. In some municipalities, a public hearing may be necessary before the subdivision is approved. An attorney and a city planner can guide you through the entire process.

Hire a Surveyor

With your plans becoming more concrete, it becomes necessary to hire a surveyor. After surveying the entire parcel, the surveyor creates a plat. This is essentially an identification of all property boundaries, easements, right-of-way and more. The surveyor may offer more advice and guidance regarding the subdivision process as well.

Submit the Application

The application packet, including the surveyor’s plat, is submitted to the local board for review and approval. This process may involve a regular meeting of the board or a public hearing may be required. Several weeks or even a few months may pass before the board reaches a decision.

If the board approves the subdivision, then the permitting process begins in earnest. If not, then it may be possible to appeal the decision or to seek a waiver.

Obtain Permits

Any construction project is likely to require several permits. Once again, experts like real estate brokers, property lawyers and local zoning officials will be valuable resources of insight and information.

Subdividing a property in Florida frequently takes between nine months and one year. With the assistance of competent and experienced professionals, many delays can be avoided, and property owners will find that these professionals help to remove many obstacles from the path forward.