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Minor dwellings: what you need to know

Recent changes to planning rules under the Auckland Unitary Plan provide huge potential in terms of the development of minor or secondary dwellings on larger sites.

The Unitary Plan highlights areas of Auckland where higher density developments can be built - areas where minor dwellings may not have been approved previously.

“The changes open the doors to new possibilities for minor dwellings, work from home or home and income developments on existing residential sites,” The House Company’s Philip Powney says. “It’s a great opportunity to add additional accommodation on sites within existing communities where the infrastructure is already in place.”


What are the options for minor dwellings?

There are two main types of minor dwellings: standalone dwellings and integrated minor dwellings that become part of the structure of the main house and extend its footprint.

Those that are attached to the main house must comply with all relevant standards including fire and noise ratings. 

For standalone dwellings, these become redundant as the minor dwelling is completely separate from the house,” Philip says.

Either way, there are basic requirements for adding a minor dwelling to an existing residential site, including that the minor dwelling and main house must be accessed from the same driveway, that there is sufficient parking space, and that the minor dwelling must have an independent outdoor living area. 


Are there size limitations for a minor dwelling?

A minor dwelling must not be larger than 60 or 65 square metres, depending on the site, with the maximum habitable area not exceeding 65 square metres for it to be considered a minor dwelling. “Garaging and outdoor living space is in addition to the maximum 65 square metre size of the minor dwelling itself.

“The different requirements will depend on the zoning of the area where the site is located.”


Work from home and home and income: are these classed as minor dwellings?

Designing and building a separate space on a residential site can be a valuable investment, especially if that space can be rented. However, deciding at the outset the intentions for the space is crucial, as the type of space it is will determine what regulations the build falls under and what consent is required. 

If the space is intended as a secondary or minor dwelling, there is a clear set of compliance requirements. If the space is intended only as a workspace or office, there are fewer compliance requirements and the project becomes more about designing a space that provides the right features for the intended use, Philip says.

Are you considering a minor dwelling or a home and income investment? Chat to our experienced team about what you could achieve.