SMALL TO MEDIUM DENSITY DEVELOPMENTS ARE ON THE RISE

There are multiple reasons for the rapid growth of the multi-unit housing market, including a growing population, skyrocketing house prices teamed with a reasonably strong economy, and importantly, changes to zoning restrictions – meaning there are many development opportunities to be enjoyed by astute investors.

Stand on any corner in Newcastle and you’ll see a crane in operation, hear the unmistakeable rumble of a construction site and feel the buzz of a city coming to life – it’s no secret that multi-unit residential developments are changing the shape of the city. As such, it is definitely an exciting time to be a developer or an investor in Newcastle and its surrounding suburbs.

While some properties under construction are multi-story, high-density designs with multi-million dollar price tags, the residential development boom is not limited to city transformations by the likes of GPT. Small to medium density developments are re-shaping housing availability in inner city and urban areas. It is an area of the market that is enjoying unprecedented growth and is attainable for many first-time developers and novice investors alike.

Multi-unit developments come in many shapes and sizes

Up or across – it is an important multi-unit development decision based on land availability, amount of financial investment, council restrictions and the when the project will ideally be completed. Obviously, the higher you go the more apartments you can sell or rent, but the overheads and fees will also be much greater and council usually have strict height guidelines you will need to adhere to depending on the specific location of the property. Essentially, you need a design that is right for your property and desired financial investment.

Multi-unit development knockdown rebuild builder Newcastle

Even if you have a block of land with the appropriate zoning and you have the required financial backing, there are still many other factors to consider when deciding what type of multi-unit development to build, such as what builder will you trust with the construction. A great place to start your research is our recent article Multiply returns with a multi-unit development, which outlines what defines a multi-unit development and discusses positioning verses size suitability and whether or not to rent or sell.

It’s important to remember that multi-unit developments are much more than high-rises. Your project might be suited to being an over 55s single level community or a row of premium townhouses.

Advantages of small to medium multi-unit developments over its larger cousin are many:

  • Lower initial investment is required, meaning the financial risk is lower while creating greater opportunities for individual and/or novice investors to enter the market.
  • Faster approval process due to less design requirements and not needing as much community and/or government input to get approvals, the finished design can be ready to go much quicker than a larger counterpart, so your return on investment is achieved sooner.
  • Speedy construction schedules simply by requiring less materials, machinery and builders.

The multi-unit popularity is driven by affordability and land availability

Many Australians living in inner city and urban areas no longer expect to live in a large house with an equally large backyard. Land is just too precious and expensive for the average Australian to afford such a luxury, not to mention that it is high maintenance especially for elderly Australians looking to downsize. Modern luxury instead has become the apartment, or simply more compact living. Designer courtyards and balconies are replacing sprawling backyards, while multi-level premises and clever floor plans make more efficient use of the land.

The beauty of a multi-unit development is that they provide an opportunity for all Australians to afford urban and inner city living. Australians want to be closer to work, as well as near cafes and restaurants, hospitals and community parks; basically they want to be part of the action. With more people looking to buy than there are properties available, it means your investment can turn into profits with relatively low risk.

Smarter planning and improved sustainability

Just like all areas of the building industry, a modern multi-unit development is very different from its earlier counterparts. Improved availability of sustainable, low maintenance materials not only reduces investor’s upfront and potential ongoing costs, but it is appealing to potential buyers, as less maintenance is required and energy efficiencies lower energy bills etc. Also many designs incorporate additional features, such as community areas, secure parking, natural light and views.

Builders with experience in multi-unit developments are essential

When you have established the parameters your project can operate under, working with experienced designers will ensure your finished project attracts the right types of buyers and/or renters. Knowing your target market from the outset is critical, as it will influence the overall design and determine how much you can expect to sell or rent your finished units for. In addition to estimating your return on investment, you also need to ensure your design works for the location as well as government regulations.Jones Homes relationships draftsman interior design architect

Multi-unit developments have many additional approval requirements and construction regulations when compared to single dwellings or small subdivisions. So working with a trusted and experienced builder is essential to navigate the process with minimal delays and to avoid unnecessary costs. After all, the last thing your development needs is to be held up by red tape instead of securing a sizable return on investment.


As multi-unit developments are quickly becoming more common, design efficient and in demand – now is as good a time as any to get the ball rolling on your investment ambitions. If you are in the market for a large multi-unit development, the NSW Government’s urban transformation agency UrbanGrowth can help with feasibility and planning. If you have a piece of land in mind or a design you want constructed and are looking to build a small to medium sized multi-unit development, then talk to the Jones Homes Multi-Unit Development team. We are experienced and have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to local requirements and processes.

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Patrick O'Brien

About Patrick O'Brien

Patrick O’Brien is Jones Homes’ Maintenance Manager, providing effective solutions for building maintenance and warranties. Patrick liaises with our customers and the building trade to deliver best practice to the post construction process. His goal is always to achieve the very best outcome for our clients and Jones Homes, ensuring customer satisfaction within the business budgetary parameters. Having spent over 11 years in Maitland real estate Patrick has an in-depth understanding of the property landscape in the lower Hunter and broader industrywide trends that affect purchasing decisions.