Property-Development-feat-20- Property Development Process Explained

Property Development Process Explained

Building a property is a time-consuming process, and for the uninitiated, incredibly confusing. The purpose of this article is to break down each stage of the property development process, from site location to handover.

Before construction can even commence, the design, planning, and approval stages must be completed. These phases will affect the end result, so it’s important that the time is taken to ensure it’s done properly.

Pre-Construction Stages of Property Development

Site Location

The first step to building a house is finding a suitable location. If it’s a personal home, finding a location that matches your lifestyle is a clear priority. If it’s for an investment, considerations need to be made as to what makes for a desirable rental property, and where the demand is in the market. This is so that the property can be leased. An investment property will always perform better if it’s located in a suburb with high-growth, high rental yield, and low vacancy.

Surveying the Land

Once a suitable piece of land has been found, it needs to be surveyed. This creates an accurate representation of the shape and features of the land. Surveys include information about the contouring of the land, man-made improvements, utility pipelines, trees, and sometimes adjoining property information. If the survey is acceptable, it is passed along to the architect or builder.

Concept Plan

At this point, the architect/builder creates a concept for how the land will be used. This includes the number of properties, the size of each property, number of storeys, driveways and footpaths, and similar information. The purpose of the concept plan is to explore the possibilities of how the land can be used in different ways. It’s much easier to make changes to the plans now than later, so this is the stage where the architect/builder and the developer will need to collaborate to create a plan that the developer is happy with, but is feasible to build.

Development Application Plans

After the concept plan is approved, the next stage is the development application plans. These plans are more detailed, and may also include other necessary documentation such as building sustainability reports. The purpose of these plans is for the local council and relevant bodies to inspect and approve the plans for construction. They check that the plans follow legislation, such as height restrictions, vehicle access, or fire standards. The council will provide information about changes that need to be made before approval can be given. The architect/builder will then adjust the plans and re-submit. This process repeats until the plans have received all the necessary approvals.


Part of the approval process that warrants a special mention is advertising. Any plan to develop land must be advertised in the area, so that any locals who may be affected by the development are aware of the development, and have an opportunity to voice their concerns. If any appropriate complaints are raised, your building plan may be rejected until those objections are addressed. The period of advertising varies per state but is usually around two weeks.

Feasibility Study

Once the developer has the final plans, they need to check that the final plans are still viable for them to build with the budget they have and that the project is still worth pursuing. The feasibility study details all of the expected expenses and building costs, loan amounts, fundraising, estimated property values, and so on. By seeing all of the total expenses compared to the funds raised, and the estimated value of the end product, a developer can make an informed decision on whether the project is worth pursuing.

Ready for Construction

If the developer decides to continue with the project, they are now ready to begin construction. After the planning and approval stages of the property development project have been completed, the construction itself can commence.

Construction Stages of Property Development

Site Preparation

If the site already has structures on it, they will need to be removed or demolished to make space for the new buildings. Once the site is clear, the surveyor can begin laying out pegs on the site as markers for the builders. If they are required, retaining walls may be built at this stage.

Concrete Slab

First, the plumber lays out any plumbing that will be contained under or within the concrete slab. Concrete is then poured around the plumbing to create a solid slab for the structure to be built on. This serves two purposes. Firstly, it provides a solid foundation to build on. Secondly, concrete is an excellent insulator and will help keep the temperature of the building regulated.

Frames and Roof Trusses

Modern houses have frames made of either timber or metal (depending on climate), with trusses on top to mount the roofing. A truss is a triangular frame that, when paired with other trusses, forms a triangular prism that becomes the shape of the roof. Frames and trusses are generally prepared off-site and then delivered to the site to be assembled. As a result, this stage passes very quickly.

Roof Tiling

Roof tiling doesn’t have to happen at this point, but many builders like to get the roof on as soon as possible to protect the framing from the elements. The builder attaches the roofing material to the trusses that were erected in the previous step.

Brick Work

The name ‘brick work’ is a bit of a misnomer, as modern homes generally aren’t made exclusively of brick. But this stage refers to the construction of the ‘outer shell’, and it is this stage where the building starts to resemble the final product.

Rough Ins

Electrical wiring, plumbing, and other piping in the interior of the property is installed inside the wall space in preparation for the next step.

Internal Lining

Insulation is installed in the wall around the piping/wiring and in the ceilings. The builder will then start plastering the walls to create the interior side of the walls. The interior walls will also be painted once the plaster is set.

Timber Mould Out

Carpenters install skirting boards, architraves (window frames), door jambs, interior doors, and kitchen carpentry. This stage quite often occurs simultaneously with the next step.

Waterproofing and Tiling

Wet areas will be waterproofed, and tilers will begin installing the tiles.

Lock Up

Exterior doors, garage doors, and windows are fitted, making it possible for the building to be ‘locked up’ for the first time.

Prime Cost (P.C.) Fit Out

Prime Cost Items are items that vary in price and are treated separately in the contract because it is difficult to give accurate price estimates for them. This includes items like tapware, baths, sinks, mirrors, and vanity items. This is the stage where these items are installed.

Practical Completion

At this point, the building is 99% complete, and all that needs to happen is minor touch-ups that were missed during construction, such as spots that missing paint. The developer will walk through the property with the site manager and point out these small errors so they can be fixed for handover.


Once all parties are happy with the end-product and have been paid, keys will be handed over to the developer.

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Even though the building is now ready, there are multiples legal process that need to occur, depending on the property type, and how it will be used. This is called settlement. If you wish to subdivide and sell individual structures on the land, a developer needs subdivision approval. A developer also needs occupation certificates before the building/s can be legally occupied.

Watching a property development grow from an empty lot of land into the finished product is an immensely rewarding feeling. Now that you understand each step and what it involves, you can take part and enjoy the process of seeing a property development being built.