Granny flat rule changes: The gritty detail, explained

The government’s plan to liberalise granny flat rules will significantly save people time and money, a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland says.

Bill McKay, from the university’s School of Architecture and Planning, has gone through the “nitty gritty” of the government’s proposal and all in all, believes it is a good idea.

The proposal is also supported by the opposition, and would see people able to build small dwellings on their property without needing resource consent to do so.

But what exactly is being proposed, and how easy will it actually be to build a self-contained dwelling in the backyard?

McKay told Nine to Noon the government was seeking feedback and people could give it through the Ministry for Business and Employment’s website until August.

A discussion document released by the government had “quite a bit” of information about how it would change legislation to allow this to happen.

Can be 60sqm in size

McKay said the granny flats could be up to 60 square metres in size.

It was “plenty of space” and “quite significant”.

According to Stats NZ, the median floor size of a new home consented in 2022 was 126sqm – so the dwelling could be just under half of that.

McKay said the dwelling could only be one-storey high and had to be detached from the main house.

There was nothing in the proposal saying how many bedrooms the dwelling could have, with McKay saying a dwelling of that size could easily have two along with living, kitchen, dining and a bathroom.

The dwellings could be build without consent – as long as they met a certain criteria.

What’s the criteria?

McKay said people would need to notify their local council that they were planning to build such a dwelling – and they would need to get some information.

This included areas on the property that were prone to flooding.

Once the build was complete, the council would need to be notified and be supplied with some drawings, showing locations of drains, for example.

All dwellings would still need to comply with the Building Code.

How does one ensure this happens?

McKay said there were a couple of options – including a licensed building practitioner building the dwelling or supervising construction.

Dwellings would have to be “well off the ground” to avoid flooding – and plumbing and drainage would need to connect to council infrastructure.

The whole plan was “not as simple as we think” and a lot would still need to go into the planning stage.

Once built – who owns it?

McKay said there needed to be common ownership with the main house.

The area could be subdivided but there would be “hoops” to jump through with doing that.

It was up to existing council policy for whether or not it could be rented or used as an Air BnB, for example.

Overall, McKay said he supported the plan but not everyone will be out on the weekend “knocking these up”.

But it would be faster, cheaper and enable families to look after themselves.

He said he was interested to see how it would work on Māori land – as there was a huge need.

The current proposal only allowed one granny flat per property and it must be near the main house.

On Māori land, McKay said several dwellings of this smaller size – and maybe no main house – were “really needed” as kaumatua housing or starter homes for young people.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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