Bring on the tiny house: no consents needed

No Consents Needed

New changes to the building act are a dream come true to tiny home and DIY lovers when paper work for consents is cut for small single dwellings.

Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa announced she’ll scrap consents for low-risk building work to free up the construction sector for higher value work, and that includes single-storey detached buildings up to 30 square metres.

The Minister estimates that will mean 9000 fewer consents to process a year.

These exemptions are expected to commence at the end of August, after the Government had made changes to the Building Act.

The change will impact builders of portable cabins, sheds, outdoor fireplaces, verandas, small DIY projects and even tiny houses.

Owner of Dreamtime Cabins Shane Saville says the Minister has been very supportive when she visited their factory and scrapping low-risk work consent will be positive for the housing industry.

Post-lockdown the demand for sleepouts or cabin offices has been incredible, and the process will become more cost-effective and timelier, once the rules are lifted.

Saville’s team provided homes for seven people during Covid-19 lockdown as a part of emergency housing programme, which they are passionate about.

Under the current regulations, a dwelling under 10sqm does not require a consent but that would triple in size under the new rules.

“Instead of being suitable for just one person you could have a mother with a toddler and a new baby living there,” he says.

Consents – Less Paperwork

Doing away with consents makes the process much quicker and by eliminating paper work , Saville says a cabin could be delivered to the site within days of enquiry.

“If you have an emergency housing project that you need wait for approval from the council, you are looking at nine to 12 months turn around to completion. Someone could have passed away on the street in the meantime.”

Another business owner of self-contained cabins in Whangarei, who did not want to be named, says waiting for a consent on a cabin to be installed at a property can be time-consuming, confusing and costly.

It will also provide a low-cost relief for those who can’t afford to buy a home.

“In New Zealand we have a shortage of affordable housing and for people who can’t buy their own property, it’s one way to get something to live in.”

However, it’s unclear if the consents change will allow the cabins up to 30sq m to have plumbing for a kitchen and bathroom installed to make them self-contained, she says.

Cabins are a relief for those who cannot afford a home but want to have their own space, particularly in the current economic climate.

Auckland valuer Stephen Hollings says a cabin or a small sleep out will add value to the property.

“The best thing is to get a pre-made one, otherwise it can be messy. But it also depends on a type of property, If it’s a six-bedroom house then a sleep out is a bit of a waste of time but if it’s a three-bedroom then it’s nice,” he says.

Post-lockdown a standalone office on the back yard is particularly valuable as many people started working from home, he says.

Statistics New Zealand revealed that number of new homes consented was 17 per cent lower than in April last year.

Acting construction indicators manager Dave Adair says there is still a large amount of uncertainty around the implications of Covid-19 on the future supply of homes.

“Typically, many homes are built within about a year of gaining consent, but these are unusual times and it will take some time to see if existing consented projects are completed or delayed,” Adair says.

The uncertainty is further highlighted in the regional home consent figures with Wellington consents slashed by half in the month while Canterbury consents held up, StatsNZ figures show.


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