For homeowners aspiring to improve their living conditions, particularly those wanting to knock down and rebuild a new home, 2023 market conditions are proving a real impediment. In this environment of high interest rates, uncertainty around builders and rising construction costs, it seems rather extravagant to knock down your current house in order to build a new home, even if that is what is desperately needed.

We help clients yearning for a new family home use these various conditions to their favour. Melbournians owning property in good locations, even those with houses that “have seen better days”, are in a very powerful position if they make astute decisions on how best to improve their home environment. Ironically, until they speak to us, a lot of homeowners actually feel “powerless” in their quest to rebuild the family home.

Building two large family homes on your property for not much more than the cost of one can land you that luxury home you have only previously dreamed of without the bill. If “you play your cards right”, it should be realised either free of charge or, better still, achieved whilst also banking a cash windfall.  We help regular homeowners assume the role of a developer, guiding them through the process so they can realise the full potential of their own property.

We are not suggesting you should downsize; quite the opposite, we are proposing you upscale your home whilst downscaling your debt.

Most people wrongly think land size is their biggest constraint; however, recently, we have found that budget (finance) is the obstacle that prevents a desired home transformation.

Creating two luxurious family homes for not much more than the cost of one will ensure an amazing return on money invested. This windfall could enable you to afford that pool garden that you previously thought was unattainable. The size and finish of your home can now be dialled up as money spent on a two-home development offers a direct financial “payback” that you don’t normally enjoy when spending exclusively on your single home.

Good architectural design can create an uncompromising poolside garden in a family home-sized unit development like our design pictured below.

Luxuries such as pools and lifts could be included in high-end development as profits can sometimes help you with affordability.

Are you looking to knock down and rebuild?

“You can have your cake and eat it too” if you are wise with your choices!

Dual Occupancy is the most common and most well-received type of unit development in metropolitan Melbourne. You should strongly consider the safety of a simplistic SIDE by SIDE development where two grand homes can be created. One for your family and the other to sell or rent as you please. Once completed, a side-by-side development has no common (shared) property and, for all intents and purposes, is two individual family homes with their own sense of address. If designed well, they should be uncompromising in luxury, often more luxurious than a one-home build, as owners can confidently “invest” more money in comforts that would otherwise be unaffordable or unjustifiable.

Developed in Cheltenham

Profit like a property developer?

You do not have to be an expert to develop your own property; you just need to consult the right experts. We have helped many first-time developers profit from their property by supporting them through the process and recommending the most appropriate builder when the time is right.

It is wise to get yourself “shovel ready” before entering any binding agreements with building companies so you remain in a position of competitive power. Building companies offer to make it “easy” for you. At best, this will come at a great cost. At worst, you will be “locked” into a very undesirable contract with what turns out to be the wrong outfit. We have heard horror stories from people who have locked themselves in early, wrongly thinking they will save money or time.

You should invest in your own property by getting “shovel ready” yourself, designing your dream and placing your family in a strong position where you can pick and choose during the tendering process.

Speak to a design expert who works for you; consider what you want in your family home, and it should be incorporated into a custom design that responds to the site conditions and your particular needs.

Development is not easy; it is not for the faint-hearted. However, there are rich rewards for those willing to persevere and those who make the right choices. If it were easy, everybody would do it, and there wouldn’t be such profit for the taking. This may be the chance to “bank” that investment bonus whilst still creating yourself the luxury you deserve. The best person to develop your property is you, not some third-party investor.

The risks

You will need to do your own research and analyse your own financial position, but generally, the risks for an “astute” development like this are very low for owners who develop their own property.

This is because you already own the land, and you have a buyer for half the proposed development – you!

Secondly, starting step by step through the process on an investment you already own means that at any time, if you don’t like what you see or market conditions deteriorate, then you can simply halt proceedings. This “power” to control how fast you go and how deep you dive dramatically reduces your risk!

If well guided, then the only other risks are failure to gain approval, builder bankruptcy and/or market collapse.

Taking it step by step will seriously mitigate those risks as you can carefully monitor the situation and only proceed if the “coast is clear”, limiting your exposure to a short period of time. Further, developing or escalating your property’s value actually “market proofs’ you to some degree as opposed to paying the full retail price for that new dream home. The “full price” single dwelling purchase will look rather silly if market values drop by 10%. However, if you have created a 30% increase in your equity through astute development, then even with a 10% market downturn, you are still ahead, thanking your lucky stars you didn’t make a significant single-house decision.

Getting started

House Design Solutions has helped many people develop in many different ways. We offer our experience and expertise in order to help guide clients through the complicated process. If you are interested, we offer a “toe in the water” start by preparing an initial sketch design drawing. Although modestly priced, this sketch has tremendous design expertise embedded into it. Our initial design will thoroughly respond to the complicated regulations. It should offer you your dream accommodation, it should attract the winter sun, addressing passive solar design principles, and it should respond well to the streetscape and neighbourhood character.

This initial sketch can be presented to builders to gain an understanding of the approximate cost. It should be shown to real estate agents for their appraisals. Council and neighbours can also be consulted IF we feel that is your best course of action.


With a design in hand and all that feedback in mind, you can now decide whether to proceed further to the step of council approval. The choice is yours! Remember, do not lock in with a builder too early!

For those who feel they cannot afford the build, we can point to the successes we have had helping those with equity who lack funding. Options like selling off the plan, although complicated, can open up financial options to those who have deleted the possibility of a luxurious replacement home. The Cheltenham JOINT VENTURE and the Murrumbeena project are just two examples of how we help you get ahead even if you feel you don’t have the cash flow to do so. The starting point is to “unlock” that hidden equity in your property so that options can open up for you.

How we help homeowners

Starting with a modestly priced initial sketch design, our “traditional” development design service aims to support you as “the developer”, holding your hand and guiding you through the complicated process but leaving you to choose and influence decisions in order to save money and shape the development to your particular liking. This is our preferred service, attracting only modest fees, and it has proven successful over the years. Our testimonials page is filled with clients who have been forever grateful for our forward-thinking and help.

Alternatively, our Development Made Easy Service is offered to clients who want “an armchair ride” through the development. We offer to “Development Manage” their dual occupancy development to the “shovel ready” stage, going well beyond “the call of duty”, acting in your interests as if we were the ones investing. Our hope is that we can add value to any development more than the cost of our fees, accessing our network of consultants and reaching “shovel ready” in the quickest time possible.

This premium service will come at a cost but will certainly reduce your stress levels for those who are busy with their “day job”.

Above is a typical Duplex SIDE by SIDE Development suiting sites at least 15m wide. Developed in Chelsea.

This two-house development in Templestowe on a sloping site was created as a “lopsided” development where the owners made a clear choice to give themselves more generous accommodation, offering less to the market. They wanted the double garage for themselves and were happy to sell the lesser property, which virtually paid for the entire project. We listen and help people make these “clever” choices, utilising our 30 years of experience.

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We have been helping Melburnians develop their properties for over 30 years, and we would love to customise a plan to suit your family’s particular needs. Contact us for more information or to get started on that initial concept design.

The Ivanhoe units, the Murrumbeena unit development, and Malvern East are different examples of successful dual occupancy projects that dramatically improved our clients’ family living environment.

Ivanhoe project, house design solutions

Seen above is our design at Ivanhoe, built in the mid-2000s where the council was concerned about the impact of a duplex, so our approved design appeared as one home from the street while still filling the functional roles of two units. Rudy, the builder, stepped up and exceeded our client’s expectations. These clients initially contacted us for a renovation of their dilapidated home. After careful consideration, we led them towards “knock down one and rebuild two” development as this was by far their best choice.

Below is a development in Murrumbeena completed about 10 years ago.

murrumbeena two house development, joint venture

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