How Much Does it Cost to Subdivide Land?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 9, 2018

Property owners often subdivide their land for a few reasons.  Usually, it’s either to sell it off for a profit, increase the property value or divide the property among family.

There’s no “universal” process as it will vary from state to state and city to city.  Subdividing land will be up to the local officials to approve the request, and generally, it will be based upon the location of the property, the local zoning laws, the property’s shape, what’s on the property and if it has access to local city services.

Fields by Dziunka (an amatour photographer), on Flickr
Fields” (CC BY 2.0) by Dziunka (an amatour photographer)

How much does it cost to subdivide land?

With no set standard, it can be so hard to offer an estimate on what it’s going to cost to subdivide land.  The costs will all depend on the surveying costs, platting costs, local hearing fees, how many lots you want to create and if any improvements need to be made in order to legally subdivide the land.

Local fees, which can include a hearing fee, review fee, tax map updating fee and recording fee, alone can range from as little as $500 to more than $10,000, depending on where you live and, again, the number of lots you plan on creating.  Don’t be surprised if your local city presents you with close to 10 fees you have to pay.

Aside from the local fees, also be prepared to pay a professional surveyor to survey the property.  Depending on who you hire, the surveyor may charge either by the hour or as a flat fee.  To budget properly, the average sized property, often less than 10 acres, can cost about $500 to $3,500.

For larger jobs, such as those who want to turn their land into a subdivision, the costs can be much higher since most local cities will require you to make improvements such as creating access to the local roads, sewers and utilities.  With so many factors with improvements, the costs can range from $10,000 to more than $35,000+.

In the end, with all of the fees factored in, the costs of subdividing could range from as little as $20,000 to more than $50,000+

DLHowell, a civil engineering environmental land planning company based in Pennslyvania, created a handy table of fees, showing local residents what it may cost to subdivide land.  In the end, they recommend budgeting $20,000 to $32,000+

According to a forum member on BiggerPockets.com, he said his one-acre property qualified to be broken into three lots.  With his proposals, he had found it could cost close to $0,000 t complete the entire process.

Subdividing land

The first step to subdivide your land is by calling your local zoning/planning development and ask how you can start the process to subdivide your land.  Some cities may have the information on its website, while others require you call.  Regardless, you should be able to find information here to see if your property does qualify for a subdivide.

Next, you will need to hire a surveyor to survey the property to draw up what’s known as a “plat.”  This is a map of the land they survey to identify your property boundaries, access right-of-ways, flood zones and easements.  During this survey, they should be able to tell you if your property qualifies for the subdivide.

Lastly, you will submit your application, along with your plat mat, title and fees, to your local zoning board and await a response.  Depending on your local city, they will then decide during a meeting or may go to a public hearing.

What are the extra costs?

Subdividing a piece of land can have many additional costs, especially if improvements need to be made.  As mentioned, you may have to provide access to the local sewers or roads, which can increase the costs.

Also, if you were to hire a lawyer or needed to clear the site, additional costs could apply.   The same could be said about inspector fees and/or permit fees, again, all depending upon your local city laws.

Tips to know:

Even if your local city claims your property isn’t eligible for subdividing, it doesn’t mean this is the answer set in stone.  Consider talking with a local attorney who specializes in local zoning laws to see if you’re a good candidate for an appeal.

While it may seem like a pot of gold, larger projects are often best left to real estate developers as these projects can be much larger than the average homeowner can handle.

How can I save money?

Talk with your local city to see if they offer a surveying service.  If so, this option is often cheaper than hiring a private company.

Ask yourself why you’re subdividing your land.  Do you want to turn a profit?  If so, are you going to sell after subdividing?  Simply stated, you are creating more properties that can be sold to other people, but of course, if it were easy, more people would do it, so keep in mind that it is easier said than done.


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