The Challenges of Subdividing your NZ Property and Building your Second Dwelling

If you’ve caught yourself staring at that endless stretch of lawn behind your kitchen, or that wide garden adjacent to your house – maybe it’s about time to make the most out of your unused land, and transform that precious space into a worthwhile investment. If you have all that extra space, consider it a rental opportunity where you can build your very own second dwelling.

If you’ve been wanting to dip your toes into the real estate scene for quite some time now, a second dwelling is your quick and viable entry into the local rental market. It gives you the opportunity to earn extra without having to shell out big bucks for a new piece of land. In fact, they are reasonably cheaper to build than a brand new home. Yet they can bring in added income which you can even use for paying the mortgage of your main house or a family vacation.

But before the build can happen, we need to talk about the state of your land and whether or not you need it to be subdivided.

What you Need to Know about Subdividing your Property

Dividing your property simply means you want a separate land title for each new section of your land. Since you plan to build a structure on it, you’ll want legal documentation stating its separate and independent ownership.

Here are two questions you need to keep in mind as a property owner:

Is it feasible to subdivide? Of course, any land can be subdivided into parts. However, the Resource Management Act 1991 ensures that certain conditions be met before any land is subdivided. This is to protect NZ natural resources and the overall health and safety of the community.

Where to secure permission? The location of your land determines the precise regulations that applies to your property. Moreover, you will need to hire a number of professionals such as a lawyer, surveyor, engineer, or a contractor to assist you in completing the supporting documents required for the subdivision of the property.

These consultants can help you sort out the legal issues with land titles and survey plan approval such as acquiring the Section 223 certification, feasibility report, site inspection, and the cost estimate of your build. Sounds like a lot, right?

Well, it is. But to note this is just a general overview of the subdivision process, no single consent application is ever the same.

Filing your Subdivision Resource Consent

When you go through the process of subdividing your property, you will need to file for a consent application at the local council specifically a Subdivision Resource Consent application. Filling in this form means outlining concrete reasons for subdividing the land, such as:

During the subdivision process, your property will be thoroughly evaluated, based on:

The goal is to have the Local Council give you a Section 224 Certificate.

A Section 224(c) certificate is a final document attesting the Council approves the subdivision of the property and that all conditions have been complied with.  Once you have this, the property owner can then apply for the new land titles at the District Land Registrar.

Strike Gold with a Second Dwelling

The next phase is the best part – so with your land subdivided and the Subdivision Resource Consent now completed, you can now proceed with building your dream of a second dwelling.

A second dwelling is called many things – a garage rental, granny flat, accessory dwelling, micro home, a sleepout, or a residential annex.

The structure can be completely independent of the main home, it is often self-contained with or without facilities. There can also be a limit on the amenities as advised by Council.

Why is it so Convenient to have a Second Dwelling?

Since 31 August 2020, more building consent exemptions have been released through the NZ Building Act. For simple and low-risk builds, building consents are no longer needed for sleep-outs, carports, sheds, mounted solar panels and outdoor fireplaces.

Now if your tiny annex home has a toilet, then it is not exempted. As toilets require pipes, therefore any form of plumbing requires a building consent.

But then again, you would need to check with council regulations at your district before you build anything. Get clarity on what you need to do to attain your building consent and what other things they do allow.

It would be best to know the limit on height and boundary issues, as most second dwellings are restricted to single-storey structures and are no bigger than 70 sqm for most NZ areas. More importantly, you’ll also need to know if this will impact fees on your property. So know your restrictions first.

Exceeding the Floor Limit

But why stop there, if you find out that your local council regulations are pretty welcoming about second dwellings, then do get the necessary building consent and expand beyond the 70 sqm size.

You can build a larger, comfortable, and detached second dwelling with better amenities and access. As long as you meet the council requirements for the size of your home, it shouldn’t be a problem.

So if you are after a second dwelling in Whangarei, work with the building company you can trust. Homeworld. We are on hand to offer guidance and support and have been part of the Northland community for over 40 years.


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