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Want an extra residential unit on your urban property?

Updated: Feb 14

Have you ever thought about adding a minor dwelling (sometimes known as a “granny flat”) to your property for your parents or children to live in; or for a bit of extra income? Here’s the low-down on where you can do this in the urban parts of Auckland.

What is a minor dwelling?

A minor dwelling is a small residential unit that is located on the same property as a standard household unit (either attached or detached). Minor dwellings have traditionally been used by property owners to provide additional self-contained accommodation for either extended family (such ageing parent(s), hence the term “granny flat”) or as an additional income source. More recently, they are being used to provide accommodation for grown children who can’t afford their own house due to increasing property prices. We often see new builds purposed built to accommodate multi-generational living and we have recently gained resource consent approval for several “tiny houses” which are growing in popularity.

The definition of minor dwelling specifically requires that the minor dwelling should be secondary to the main dwelling at the property and will have some element of dependence to the main dwelling such as shared access.

Where can I build a minor dwelling?

In Auckland, the introduction of the Auckland Unitary Plan (Operative in Part) means that minor dwellings can be built only in three residential zones. Minor Dwellings are specifically provided for within the following zones:

  • Residential - Single House Zone

  • Residential - Large Lot Zone

  • Rural and Coastal Settlement Zone

If you are within a Residential Single House Zone, provided the minor dwelling complies with all of the applicable Standards, they can be built without the need for a resource consent (they are a permitted activity). You would still need a building consent.

If you are within the Residential - Large Lot Zone and the Residential - Rural and Coastal Settlement Zone, minor dwellings are a restricted discretionary activity and require resource consent.

Development contributions will be payable on top of any resource consent or building consent fees. This is a contribution towards infrastructure and services as an additional dwelling increases demand for these services. You can get an estimate of expected development contributions here.

What are the controls?

The size of minor dwellings is restricted to a maximum of 65m2. Depending on the number of bedrooms, between 5m2 - 8m2 of private open space (with a minimum depth of 1.8m) is required.

Each of the zones then has slightly different standards in respect to height, height to boundary, yard setbacks and coverage. A single car park space is also required for minor dwellings within these zones.

What about the other residential zones?

In Auckland, there are three residential zones that do not specifically provide for minor dwellings to be built as the Auckland Unitary Plan rules are designed to encourage more intensive development, with up to three dwellings allowed as of right on each site, provided the dwellings comply with the specific zone standards (zone dependent). These Standards include areas for outlook and outdoor living, as well as maximum heights, distances from boundaries and coverages.

These zones include:

  • Mixed Housing Suburban Zone

  • Mixed Housing Urban Zone

  • Terrace Housing and Apartment Building

So, although minor dwellings are not specifically provided for within these zones, a small residential dwelling could still be built within these zones, subject to existing development and meeting applicable rules and Standards.

So, can I build it?

Overall, small residential dwellings can be built within the majority of residential zones within Auckland. However, each zone has different standards and therefore different approaches are needed depending on the zone. Planning PlusTM can provide you with more specific information about the approach needed for your property to provide a space to send the teenagers to, accommodation for grown children or a spot for the in-laws to stay.

If you’re keen to know more about what can be built on your property, give us a call today 09427966.

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

Jo Michalakis is a Senior Planner at Planning Plus and has over 14 years of resource management experience. Jo has a wide range of experience, including public and private sectors and has worked at both Auckland Council and Gisborne District Council.

​Her planning work experience includes residential, commercial, infrastructure, natural environment, heritage and community projects throughout the North Island of New Zealand. She has experience in policy development, preparation of assessments of environmental effects and processing resource consents.

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