Dividing property into lots to build homes requires the implementation of a subdivision. Subdivisions begin with the property developer applying for subdivision through the municipalities planning or zoning department.
The local government where the land is located usually has some type of subdivision ordinance that provides the details and regulations on subdivision plans. These ordinances have substantive and procedural requirements on how to subdivide a piece of property.
Generally, the local subdivision ordinance requires that the individual submit a preliminary application for subdivision approval. The staff of the office in charge of subdivisions usually meet with the applicant to discuss the application and any immediate concerns. If the office grants a preliminary plat approval, the staff then presents the plat to the legislative body for final approval. If the legislative body grants final approval, a copy of the subdivision plat is recorded in the local recorder's office and the subdivision becomes effective upon the recording of that plat.
Most subdivision ordinances require minimum setback rules, road dedication requirements, and proof that there is adequate water and sewer service. The legislative body may also want to see plans for lighting, curbs, gutters and sidewalks. Many subdivision ordinances require maximum densities, meaning that lots may not be below or above a certain size.