No time like now to start your subdivision (November 2022)

Had you asked me five years ago how long it took to obtain new titles for a subdivision the answer would have been - less than 12 months. How times are changing - nowadays you’d be extremely lucky to do it in under 18 months, even if you are well organised.  Larger or more complex subdivisions could indeed take much longer.

People ask us “how could that be?” Perhaps they have done a subdivision in the past or they have no idea of the complex process involved to even get the Resource Consent to begin with. Yes, all subdivisions need resource consent; contrary to recent advice given to a client by a council officer. This is where the red tape begins!

Since we’ve done this so many times we can navigate this process for our clients, given time. However, for the newbie trying to find their way it can be daunting. And, dare I say, with new Resource Consent Legislation on the way it is going to get worse.  Three separate pieces of law governing one process and all the learning that goes with that will add yet another hiccup. And now there is the National Policy Statement on High Quality Soils to consider.

So, what takes all the time? I doubt that anyone has avoided the delays related to the shortage of skilled labour in NZ.  The cumulative effects of this takes plenty of the blame, coupled with the lengthy bureaucratic process of gaining approvals from the Council and other interested parties. I don’t see the latter improving any time soon.

Subdivision is not just about putting a few new boundary pegs in the ground. Even before getting serious about subdivision, an experienced subdivision project manager must visit the site to assess the constraints and critical dimensions before an assessment against the prevailing planning rules.  This essential step can often involve other specialist input before a decision to proceed. This time spent upfront is invaluable in protecting your investment going forward.

Once a decision is made to apply to Council for Resource Consent, the serious investment in time and money begins. A surveyor will have to visit the site and carry out detailed measurements of the proposed new section and any related detail such as road access, contour and power supply. Their detailed plan is then used by the many expert consultants and authorities that must contribute.  This can include soil scientists, archaeologists, ecologists, geotechnical engineers, traffic engineers, drainage engineers, contamination engineers, electricity companies, regional councils and Iwi. As you can imagine, organising these people in a tight market takes time. In some cases consultation with affected parties is also required. Once our report is prepared, pulling together all this information, the application is off for a long holiday at the Council. 

The resultant Council Approval will inevitably come with a list of environmental conditions stemming from the information supplied, to be fulfilled before titles can be issued. This will invariably include the construction of access and connection to services such as water and electricity. With contractors and electricity companies being booked up many months ahead, this part of the work can take several months to take care of. In tandem with this, a boundary survey is performed by a licenced cadastral surveyor whose job is to create the new titles for the section.  This is a complex legal process, requiring approvals by the crown, which can take several months from start to finish as well.

Given that we have perhaps passed a peak in demand for contractors, the next little while might be a more efficient time to get such work carried out. So why wouldn’t you start your subdivision now, if you need the titles in two or three years?

If you have any thoughts of subdividing your farm to sell off a lifestyle property or provide security for a family member, then you should contact a specialist subdivision company very early. Please feel free to give us a call to discuss your situation and the full potential of your land.


Trig points and topographical surveying
theodolite - traditional land surveying equipment
Surveying Services Subdivision Planning Team Vehicle
Mt Maunganui Land Surveying