Infill Development in Inner-City Brisbane
Our next project is what’s called an infill development. An infill development basically means building on underutilised land. You fill in the gaps in existing developments. We wanted to build beautiful, unboring houses (not units), within a 5km radius of the CBD. We set out looking for small houses on big blocks, in zonings that allowed subdivision and additional development. We were very focused on location. It had to be in a suburb that is highly attractive to live in, and thus would have demand for well-designed, high-quality homes. We wanted to tick every box. Great transport options, great schools, close to university and tertiary education, as well as excellent proximity to shops, cafes and restaurants. We were pretty excited when a buyers’ agent found us a 1920s Queensland worker’s cottage in Newmarket, with heaps of character and a generous yard. The cottage needed heaps of TLC, but had so much potential. The backyard revealed even more hidden potential. Why? Because the property is less than 200m from a train station and a major bus route, we can build three-storey townhouses on the site. Even better, we can walk to a local shopping centre which is currently undergoing a major development to include a cinema and more restaurants. From here we followed two basic steps: Check you can develop your vision: This involves knowing your zoning and what kind of development council will allow on the site, identifying problems on the site, and getting expertise to assist with solutions. We made sure there was enough time to get expert advice from town planners and engineers before the contract went unconditional. If you’re interested, we’re in an LMR3 zoning, which is Low Medium Residential, up to three storeys, with a Traditional Building Character overlay. Check your product will sell or rent: This is about research and finding comparables. This area is classified as a ‘tightly held’ suburb. While there are units for sale, there are very few four-bedroom family dwellings. This makes it quite tricky to get comparables, so we had a good look at the suburb and found that larger dwellings are only on the market for a short time. We don’t have direct comparables, but we’ve done a lot of research to get comfortable with the demand for our houses and design vision. So long story short, we took all the expert advice we could get, we settled on the property, and we started planning to renovate the cottage into a four-bedroom house and build two four-bedroom terrace-style townhouses. Then, as luck would have it, we also bought the neighbouring property! So this project is now two DAs, two character houses, and four townhouses. The good news is that we’re off. After all of our planning, applications, and approvals, we have commenced building the first renovated house.