Subdivision Process

If you have land with some potential value associated with it, you may be considering subdividing.

Every project is different and whether the subdivision is simply adding one extra title or your subdivision plans involve multiple new lots, the process can be complex. This info-graphic is designed to give a broad overview of the process to help you identify the various stages involved and the ideal time to involve professional advice and guidance. EDC can provide many of the engineering disciplines outlined below under one roof and if you would like some help finding the right professionals for some of the other areas required, we can help you there too.

Subdividing a parcel of land in to smaller legal titles requires planning, engineering, design, construction of new infrastructure, surveying and legal establishment of new titles. The best way to ensure a positive outcome and maximise the return on your investment is through good management of the entire project. Involving the appropriate professional services at the right time is critical to avoiding extremely costly mistakes which could potentially be legally damaging.



Professional advice to establish a good reason to believe subdivision is legally allowable & financially viable

There are many factors that effect the feasibility and likelihood of success when embarking on a subdivision. Before you do anything else, get the right advice as to what you can and can’t do, what the critical elements of risk are likely to be down the track and whether or not the project is even feasible.


  • Get advice on issues like: legal zoning, access, size of section, land suitability, geotechnical and flooding hazards, infrastructure or other restrictions to the site

  • Suggested people to talk to might include: Council, a planner or surveyor and an engineer

  • Talk to a real estate about land values for both the undeveloped site and smaller subdivided plots in the area

  • It may also be suitable to work with the above people to develop a Preliminary Scheme Plan at this phase


Systems and/or professional assistance to plan, track & manage both the project itself and also the finances

Ensure you establish a suitable project leader with experience in developing subdivisions. Managing the finances effectively is also critical to ensure cash flow is available at critical stages, to cope with unexpected costs and ultimately: to ensure you get the best possible return on your investment.


  • A suitable project leader would likely be a planner, architect or in some cases a surveyor

  • Talk to your bank manager, accountant and lawyer about the best way to set up a legal entity and manage the finances

  • It may be worth working with a quantity surveyor – some lenders may in fact demand this

  • If you are not from a financial background and the subdivision is a large project, consider employing a financial controller


Prove feasibility with respect to environmental factors and legal requirements

It is important to understand what activities are permitted, controlled or ‘restricted discretionary’ before investing too heavily in detailed plans or unnecessary consent application costs. Failing to comply accordingly could have legal implications and create considerable additional cost. Things to consider may include: Activity status, ability to prove minimum effects on the land and surrounding environment, neighbours’ approvals, easements, effect on traffic (both during works and as a result of the subdivision) and mitigation of natural hazards.


  • Have a meeting with a civil engineer, geotechnical engineer plus an environmental engineer in certain cases and either a planner or surveyor to discuss the specifics of the location and identify the key areas to be covered by future design

  • Have your team consult with council in order to maximise the chances of a successful consent proposal

  • Required reports may include: geotechnical report, traffic management report, infrastructure report

  • Have your project leader (planner, surveyor or architect) compile detailed documentation including a Finalised Scheme Plan and specialist reports and submit an application for Resource Consent with council

  • It may also be wise to estimate approximate costs at this stage


Details of the infrastructure design and documentation required for council approvals, quoting and implementation

Assuming Resource Consent is granted, certain works inherent with subdivisions will still require Council approval of the engineering plan. These plans provide the details of the infrastructure design and cover a multitude of critical elements to the project.


  • Some elements that could be required in the engineering plans include:

    Earthworks, wastewater drainage, stormwater drainage, sediment control, overland flow paths for flood control, roading, right of way design as well as the layout of water supply and other utilities

  • An engineer can also help by preparing tender documentation and contract documents

  • It is wise to finalise costs and construction contracts at this point, especially for larger projects

Management and implementation of site preparation and infrastructure works

Construction of the subdivision’s infrastructure requires accurate specifications, effective project management, technical supervision and certification of the works. Once the construction is complete, legal and survey input will be required to establish the individual titles.


  • Ensure you have a structured financial management process in place and that funds will be available when required

  • A project of reasonable size should have a contract specification document prepared by your engineer in accordance with the provisions of NZS 3910

  • Have your project leader work with Council, the civil, geotechnical and environmental engineers and quantity surveyor (as well as the financial controller if you have one) to ensure construction is conducted in accordance with safety, legal, quality, time and budgetary parameters

  • Ensure civil engineering certifications are provided on completion

  • Have a surveyor set out the new boundaries and a lawyer help to establish legal titles with Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)




Building consent, management and implementation of buildings on the site

If the developer of the subdivision is also intending to build on the newly formed lots, additional planning and services will be required.


  • If you intend to construct commercial or residential buildings on the site, you will need a Building Consent

  • If you completed a Land Use Consent as part of the initial Resource Consent, this will likely save time and money when you come to this phase

  • As with the development of the subdivision outlined in this guide, it is also recommended that you have a project leader and sound financial management process in place

  • A suitable project leader would be an architect or building company

  • They will most likely also be working with other professionals, such as structural, geotechnical and fire engineers