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Tiny Home Revolution May Not Save Costs

By Anna Bensemann, Senior Planner, Baseline Group | Feb 23, 2023

There is a myth that the government relaxing the rules around structures no bigger than 30 square metres means you can have a tiny home on your property. As with any change in rules it comes with conditions and limitations and in this case, does not extend to the obligations under the Resource Management Act, or development contribution payments under the Local Government Act. Furthermore, the change in rules under the Building Act does not extend to structures containing kitchens.

For anyone thinking about building or locating a tiny home on their property it’s important to understand your obligations under the District Plan. A tiny home is considered to be a dwelling under most district plans and all of the rules relating to a larger home also apply to a tiny home. There are some exceptions to enable minor dwellings or granny flats to share a property with a primary home, however for the most part they are treated as if they were a full dwelling. This means provisions such as minimum area per dwelling, setbacks from boundaries, height to boundary relationships, and maximum amount of site covered, will continue to apply to the tiny home. These rules apply often regardless of the small scale of the building, with resource consents required for any non-compliances.

Development contributions are levied under the Local Government Act whenever a property is subdivided, or an additional dwelling built, if not located on a separate title. These are levied per household unit equivalent and contribute towards the district wide roading, community services, and infrastructure (water supply, stormwater and sewer connections). While some councils may allow up to 50% discount on development contributions for tiny homes to acknowledge they are small and will place less pressure on some regional services, a contribution is still required. This varies between councils, with prices known to reach $45k per new household in some districts.

Often when purchasing a tiny home built off site, the building companies will give the option to have one with, or without, a building consent. Each tiny home placed on a property with permanent foundations and plumbed into council services will require a building consent from the district in which the building was constructed, and a building consent for the connections to the local council infrastructure in the district it’s located. Additionally, the Government’s 30 square metre exception to the Building Act comes with a whole list of exceptions and exclusions meaning permanent structures containing kitchens require a building consent.

Unfortunately for many people who think they will be saving costs, the fact you are building a separate house means tiny homes are still subject to the same level of compliance with district plans, the same obligations for development contributions, and the same obligations for a building consent as a standard dwelling. Due diligence before joining the tiny home revolution is highly recommended.

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