top of page

Sleepouts: the answer to your extra space problems?

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

Many of us know the feeling of our houses not being quite big enough; the surly teenager who needs their own room, the in-laws moving in or just an extra space for visitors. Extending your house can be very expensive - is a separate sleepout the answer?

What is a sleep out?

A sleepout is typically a building separate from the main house which is used as extra accommodation. It does not contain cooking or kitchen facilities and usually shares facilities with the main dwelling. Its used in association with the main house and isn’t a standalone/ self-contained accommodation option.

Benefits of a sleepout

Adding a sleep-out to your property can be a cost-effective way to provide accommodation for elderly relatives, teenage children needing their own space or older children struggling with rising rent in Auckland. Depending on the specifics of your site and where you put the sleepout, you often don’t need a resource consent which can save you time and money. You will however usually need a building consent; you should check this with your local Council.

Difference between a sleepout and a minor dwelling

People often get confused between a sleepout and a minor dwelling as both provide extra accommodation on a property. These two forms of alternative accommodation have differing characteristics and planning issues which must be considered.

In an Auckland context, a “Sleepout” is not defined in the Auckland Unitary Plan, but it’s considered an “accessory building”. This means the use is incidental to the main house; it doesn’t provide separate self- contained accommodation. The key difference between a sleepout and a minor dwelling is the installation of a kitchen. A kitchen is more than just a stove, but includes dishwashing facilities, a fridge etc. The intention is that any independent living accommodation (that contains kitchen facilities) would be a “minor dwelling”- this may require resource consent depending on where your site is located.There are also restrictions on minor dwelling size, access and what sites they can be built on. A sleepout however is dependent on the main dwelling and used in association with it; this is the key difference between the two.

You may be looking at using a portacom or removable building; these could be accessory to a dwelling onsite and can be adapted to be a sleepout. Under the Resource Management Act, temporary or removable buildings are treated in the same manner as permanent buildings and further assessment is usually required to determine if a sleepout (temporary or permanent) can be located on a site. Yu could still need a resource consent, even if the building was moveable.

What do I need to look out for?

If your proposed building has a kitchen and a bathroom it is considered a minor dwelling not a sleepout. It could need a resource consent as well as a building consent, as well as having additional planning standards that apply (such as restrictions on floor area, driveway access and separation distance).

If you are building close to boundaries or other buildings, you need to give consideration to Building Code requirements on protection from fire, particularly in relation to the spread of fire to neighbouring properties.

If you are adding a building of more than 10m2 then you will need building consent (a sleep out can be designed to be under 10m2). By law, sleep-outs must comply with both the Building Code of New Zealand and any relevant NZ Planning standards. Useful information can be found at as well as on your local regional or city council website.

Want more information?

Sleepouts and minor dwellings can be more complicated than they seem at first. They’re also highly visible, so easy for neighbours to complain to the Council about; always better to check your facts in advance!

Planning Plus has extensive experience in the urban and rural environment where sleepouts are located, and we can assist with development options for your property. Resource consent applications are our specialty, and we work hard to take the stress out of the process for our clients. Get in contact today for more information,

Disclaimer As with all our blogs, the information detailed here is general in nature and meant as a preliminary guide only. This should not be substituted for your own investigations or use of your own professional’s. Planning Plus is not liable for any errors or omissions.

© Planning Plus Ltd 2023

Brittney is a qualified RMA planner graduated from Auckland University with first-class honours.

Brittney has experience in land development work and has also worked processing and lodgement of resource consent applications. She also provided project management and general communications.

She is also an intermediate member of the New Zealand Planning Institute.

4,253 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page