Dual Occupancy Vs Townhouse: What I Wish I Had Known

Are you weighing your development options and wondering whether to do a dual occupancy or townhouses? You might benefit from some insight from a developer that has experience with both types of development.

Colin Fragar, our founder and CEO, shares tips from his personal experience and considers dual occupancy vs townhouse.

Click on the “Play” button below to watch now:


Or for those that prefer to read, here is a transcript of the video…

Dual Occupancy vs townhouse, which is better? My name is Colin Fragar from the Council Approval Group.

I’m excited to be able to talk to you for a few minutes today about the differences between dual occupancy and a townhouse and also some of the pros and cons.

Now, this is coming from not just from somebody that’s done it academically. I may look a bit young. Well, I like to think that I look young, but I have done a multi unit housing development myself, which was five townhouses. I’ve also done 10 plus dual occupancies plus granny flats as well. And then for the Council Approval Group over the last 25 years that we’ve been in business, we have done literally thousands of these. I’m pulling out of that well of understanding to really throw my best tips here.

Multi Unit Housing and Townhouses Vs Dual Occupancies

Multi Unit Housing

Multi unit housing, obviously you’ve got more than two dwellings on the same title which you can then strata subdivide or or subdivided, in whichever mechanism is available to you in your local area. So If I drew a little diagram here, it may be easier to understand. Typically what we find with multi unit housing, there’s kind of two properties or a wide property, something like that. And you’re looking at putting in townhouses in one way, shape or form. I’ve actually done two multi unit housing and I forgot about that. I did 1-into-5 and then I did a 1-into 6-one.


So townhouses yet, they’re certainly a more advanced. I wouldn’t say a more advanced strategy, but they’re more advanced in terms of the financing. And this is where a lot of people get unstuck. There are literally, any day of the week, hundreds if not thousands of townhouse DA approved sites on the market. And the reason is often people get to this point and they just don’t have the finances to pull it off. To be able to pull off this sort of financing, you often need to bring in an investor and or go to what they call commercial lending because typical banks under basic residential lending don’t do these sort of deals.

Dual Occupancy

A dual occupancy, on the other hand, is easier to pull off in terms of the financing.
If I had the choice, if someone said, ‘okay Colin, you can do five townhouses on this site or you can have two sites with the dual occupancy’, I would go with two sites with the dual occupancy any day of the week.

And the reason is a dual occupancy is a lower entrance point and allows me to do two deals quicker. That means that my finances aren’t tied up for as long. I can usually pull off the dual occupancy subdivision in one to two years. Whereas a multi unit housing project would be two to three years.

So the value of money you’ve got to put on, if you haven’t done a multi unit housing project before, may cause you to come unstuck.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

I also suggest that you don’t fall into the developers trap which starts on a small kind of a project. Maybe you’re building one house and then the next project that you do, maybe you do two and then I think I’ve got some success. Now I’m going to go for this one with multi unit housing. And what each layer that you go up is a whole new layer of complexity, not only in terms of council approval, but also in terms of funding.

Take the Next Step

So my personal preference is dual occupancy but I don’t want to hold you back from that. We are the Council Approval Experts and Council Approval Group do all of these types of projects. So whatever it is that you’re looking for, I highly recommend that you do two things:
  • First of all, you grab Your Ultimate Guide to Council Approval, which is available complimentary to you.
  • And if you are serious about taking action and going to the next step, then we do have a free consultation service from one of our council approval team. They will ask a series of questions about what you’re trying to achieve, and then work out what is the best best path forward for you.

I hope that you’ve picked up a few tips and tricks in this short video. I do wish you every success and we look forward to talking to you again soon.