Saturday, July 13, 2024

New granny flat build rules to unlock housing relief

The Government has today flagged new rules to make it easier for people to build granny flats.

Acting Prime Minister, Winston Peters said giving backyard builds the go-ahead would open the door to new ways of living.

“Over a quarter of households that do not own their home spend more than 40% of their income on housing. High housing costs have a greater impact on Māori, Pasifika, and people with disabilities, as well as seniors – so unlocking the space in the backyards of family members opens the door to new ways of living,” said Mr Peters.

“We know granny flats are a great option for seniors, but they’re also increasingly popular with other families such as those who want homes where their university-age children can live at home but maintain some privacy and independence, or families who want to provide extra support to a loved one.”

The National-NZ First Coalition Agreement commits the government to amending the Building Act and the resource consent system to make it easier to build granny flats or other small structures up to 60m2.

“Today’s announcement is the first step to deliver that,” said RMA Reform Minister, Chris Bishop.

“Today’s announcement fits within the government’s wider package of work to streamline the building consent system and address the housing crisis through our ‘Going for Housing Growth’ agenda.

“The government is publishing a discussion document today with proposed changes to the Building Act and the resource management system so we can get the details right. Our proposed legislative amendments include coordinated changes across the building and resource management systems.

“Many district plans already allow granny flats without resource consent, but there’s a lack of consistency and different standards across the country. We’re proposing a National Environmental Standard (NES) to require all councils to permit a granny flat on sites in rural and residential zones without resource consent.  An NES means changes can come into force quickly,” he said.

The discussion document proposes that a new schedule is added to the Building Act 2004 to provide for simple standalone houses up to 60 square metres in size.

The building system proposals in the discussion document released today include: 

  • the conditions and criteria for these homes to be exempt from a building consent
  • assessment of the associated short and long-term benefits, costs and risks
  • sufficiency of occupational licensing requirements to ensure all building work will meet the building code
  • potential barriers to the uptake of the proposed exemption
  • time and money savings compared to the status quo
  • additional or alternative ideas to the proposed options. 

“Removing the regulatory red tape will not only speed up the build process, it is also estimated to save up to $6,500 just in the standard building and resource consenting fees per build, not to mention all the savings in time and resource,” Mr Bishop says.

“There will be safeguards to ensure these granny flats continue to meet New Zealanders’ expectations for building performance and quality, and appropriately manage environmental effects. We want these to be safe, healthy and durable homes.   

“We want to hear from everyone who has constructive suggestions that will help us ensure we get the policy right.”

Final policy decisions will be made later this year, with the legislative changes expected to be in place from mid-2025.

The consultation opens today, with submissions to be received until 5pm Monday 12 August 2024. The public can provide feedback online or by emailing grannyflats@mbie.govt.nz 

The discussion document can be found here: mbie.govt.nz/grannyflats. Read the Government’s granny flat fact sheet here.

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