Can I buy land in Loudoun County VA and then subdivide it?

Buy Land in Loudoun County VA to Subdivide

Prospective land buyers often ask me “Can I buy land in Loudoun County VA and then subdivide it?”

Rough Transcript: Typically, the first thing I say is: If you’re getting pretty close to buying land to subdivide in Loudoun County, then get a land engineer involved before you spend any money on the land.

That being said, if you’re early in the process and just starting to get out and see some properties – and you’re just curious about what the potential possibilities could be – then there are some things you can do to figure out the subdivision potential.

If you’ve been out looking at properties already, and if you’re looking out west of Leesburg and in some of the more rural areas of Loudoun County, you might have noticed that it’s tough to find anything under 3 to 5 acres. And the majority of the listings on the market are in the 3 to 10 acre range.

So if you are going to buy land in Loudoun County VA, then you might be thinking “Well, that’s more than enough land to build a house. Maybe I can just put my house on it, carve a little bit off, and then sell the rest of it and get some of my money back.”

That’s a] logical way to think, and it’s awesome if you can find a property where you can do that. But the issue in Loudoun County is that most of the land in that part of the county is zoned AR-1 and AR-2.  The purpose of those zoning districts is to preserve the agricultural and rural residential character of the area. Quite often you’ll find that you cannot subdivide down much further than five acres in those zoning districts.

Buy land in Loudoun County VA
Aerial map with zoning overlays

How to Figure out Subdivision Potential

All of this is a long way of saying: the first place to start your research – if you’re thinking about subdividing after you buy Loudoun County land – is to figure out what your zoning district is in the location of your land, and then cross reference that with the Loudoun County zoning ordinance.

So, if your land is in the AR-1 district, take that, find the AR-1 district in the zoning code, and then read through it and figure out what are the lot size requirements to be able to subdivide. Are there any other requirements?

If you do this and conclude there is some potential there for subdividing, the next step would be to call the Loudoun County Planning and Zoning Department. Spend some time on the phone with them. Give them the parcel number of the land you’re looking at, and then they’ll pull up some maps and resources on their end and they’ll be able to give you an opinion over the phone about whether it might be eligible for further subdivision.

The opinion you get on the phone is not going to be a final determination, but it can certainly give you some confidence to then go to a land engineer and say, “Hey, I’m looking to buy land in Loudoun County VA to subdivide, can you do some more research for me?” Then they can start drafting some initial conceptual plans of what the subdivision might look like.

Road Frontage and Other Requirements

Beyond the minimum lot area, there are other things that can complicate your plans to subdivide. Even if you have enough land area to meet the county’s minimum requirements for subdividing in that particular zoning district, there are other requirements that you’ll have to meet before the county will approve your plans.

Road frontage is one example. When you create your new lots the county will require that each of your new lots has a certain length of road frontage. So, if your parent lot doesn’t have enough road frontage to fulfill those requirements, then the county probably isn’t going to approve your subdivision plans.

There are any number of other issues to think about. A lot of these are outlined in the zoning ordinance, so if you’ve got some free time and you’re thinking about doing this, certainly go and look at those ordinances and familiarize yourself with the general process and the possibilities in your zoning district.

If you have any questions about subdividing or if you’re looking for land for sale in Loudoun County, I’d love to hear from you! Also, if you need references for engineers or anything like that, then give me a call and I’d be happy to introduce you to someone.

Thank you for watching!

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