If you have a large enough piece of land that you want to be divided into smaller lots, there is a process that the professional you hire will have to go through to legally create these new lots.
Once you hire a land surveyor or a civil engineer working in conjunction with a land surveyor, the following nine steps are what the surveyor and civil engineer will most likely have to complete to get your parcel of land subdivided.
1) Research local regulations.
2) Find out if you can subdivide your property.
3) Research existing information for your site and adjoining properties.
4) Create your existing property boundaries.
5) Do a boundary survey.
6) Create proposed lot lines for the new lots.
7) Submit the land subdivision plan to the municipality for review.
8) Have the approved subdivision plan recorded.
9) Survey the new lots.
1. Research Local Regulations
The first step for any new subdivision plan should be researching the zoning ordinance for the municipality within which a property to be subdivided is located. The zoning ordinance is the set of requirements created by the municipality that includes regulations for how a property can be used and subdivided.
Associated with the zoning ordinance should be a zoning map showing the various land use zones with each zone having its own set of regulations. Once your site is located on this map, the land surveyor or civil engineer working on your project will know which part of the zoning ordinance to research to find the correct requirements for your property.
2. Find Out If You Can Subdivide Your Property
After finding the zoning requirements for your lot of land, the next step is to analyze your existing lot to see if it is large enough to subdivide.
Zoning requirements regarding land subdivision could include minimum lot areas, minimum lot widths, minimum yard setback distances with corresponding building setback lines, and maximum impervious areas. A lot area could even be broken down into gross lot area (the total lot area) and net lot area (the total lot area minus certain areas such as right-of-way areas and easement areas).
The surveyor or engineer will have to determine if your lot is large enough to subdivide your land into at least two or more smaller lots where each new lot can still maintain the current zoning requirements.
Related: What Is Land Subdivision and When Could It Be a Good Idea?
3. Research Existing Information for Your Site and Adjoining Properties
Once it has been determined that your land parcel can be subdivided, the next step would be to obtain information for your lot and for the lots adjoining your property. This information would include copies of existing deeds, property plats, and any special agreement or easement documents associated with the properties.
This information would be used in the next step that involves the creation of an existing boundary plan.
4. Create Your Existing Property Boundaries
Before anyone can design proposed lots with new property boundaries, the configuration of your existing lot and the surrounding lots have to be created using a computer-aided drafted program to create a base boundary plan as a starting point. The information obtained from the previous step is used to create this base boundary plan.
This plan would also include any existing right-of-way areas as well as any utility and stormwater easements. If the zoning ordinance requires the calculation of net areas and the net areas are required to not include wetlands and floodplain areas in the calculation, then some extra work may be required to have the wetlands and floodplain areas delineated so that they can be added to the plan.
5. Do a Boundary Survey
After the base plan is created, a land surveyor would then go to your property to do a boundary survey. This would involve surveying and marking your property corners. The surveyor would also take the time to look for and survey the location of any existing property markers (such as pins and monuments) to show on the base boundary plan.
Once the existing property markers are added to the base plan, any issues regarding differences between the property markers and the base plan can be reviewed and resolved.
Related: The Land Surveying Process (In 8 Steps)
6. Create Proposed Lot Lines for the New Lots
The next step after the creation of the base boundary plan is the preparation of the proposed lots with associated lot lines to create the finalized land subdivision plan.
In addition to the proposed lot lines, building setback lines (per the zoning requirements) would have to be drawn on the plan for each new lot to show what area of each proposed lot is left that can be used for the construction of any buildings. Each proposed lot would also have to be checked to be sure it meets all of the other the zoning requirements.
7. Submit the Land Subdivision Plan to the Municipality for Review
Once you have a finalized land subdivision plan, it can then be submitted to the municipality to be reviewed for compliance with all zoning requirements. In addition to the required number of copies of the subdivision plan, a subdivision review submission would most likely also require an application and associated fees.
A final approval for your plan might also require the plan to be presented at a public meeting and to be approved by a governing group such as a board of supervisors.
8. Have the Approved Subdivision Plan Recorded
After your land subdivision plan has been approved, it would then have to be recorded at the local Recorder of Deeds office. The recording of the plan is what makes official the subdivision of your land into the smaller lots.
9. Survey the New Lots
The final step of the land subdivision process is to locate and mark the new corners of the new lots. A land surveyor would locate the new corners based on your approved subdivision plan and mark them with new property pins or monuments.
The Timeline for This Process
The time it takes to get through the above steps can vary depending on such things as the work schedule of the surveyor or engineer, the application procedure of the municipality, and the number of reviews that is required before the land subdivision plan can be approved.
However, it is reasonable to expect that the entire process could take at least a few weeks to a few months.
Related: 5 Common Terms Used in Land Subdivision
Related: 5 Common Reasons Why You Might Want to Subdivide Land