Resulting from the Auckland Unitary plan new opportunities to subdivide have become a reality for many Auckland property owners. The subdivision of land enables the creation of separate and saleable title certificates for all the properties involved.


Types of Subdivisions

There are three common types of titles that are produced through subdividing land:

  1. Fee Simple: This is the most common type of subdivision. This is where a property is divided into two or more sections, and the ownership of these sections are held solely by the person/s listed on the title certificate.
  2. Unit Title: This form of subdivision is where there are multiple dwellings where a number of owners share a singular piece of land i.e. an apartment complex. These may also be used in relation to individual houses, duplex houses or a commercial block of buildings. In these cases a Body Corporate (Owners Committee) is created to govern the property. A Body Corporate is useful to manage common areas of the land, and to maintain how a development should look.
  3. Cross-lease: These were previously common, but less so today. A cross-lease comprises of two different ownership forms, an undivided share of the underlying land parcel and a long-term lease over the land occupied by the “flat.” 

Factors that affect the possibility of subdivision on your property

There are a number of factors that may influence whether subdivision on your property would be allowed:

  1. The size of your property
  2. The zoning area your property is in
    • Different zone areas have differing minimum sizes for subdivided lots
  3. The existence of dwellings on the land, or whether there is existing consent for further dwellings
  4. Stability of the property ground and its hazard risks (e.g., flooding, contamination or erosion risks)
  5. Whether there are current restrictions on the property or existing titles
  6. Condition of the drainage system for both stormwater and wastewater, and whether new systems or upgrades are needed
  7. Access for vehicles, including driveway access, parking and manoeuvring.

The zoning areas within the Auckland Unitary plan create size factors that may influence your project plans. Size requirements for subdivision projects are dependent on how your area is zoned. These zoning rules dictate the minimum size requirements of subdivided properties across the city limits. These zoning rules also provide height requirements as well as site coverage restrictions that your intended dwelling has to adhere to.

The minimum site size for subdivided properties in each zone is:

  • 600 square metres for lots in the single house zone
  • 400 square metres for lots in the mixed housing suburban zone
  • 300 square metres for lots in the mixed housing urban zone

Every project and property are different and an assessment of these factors are required before moving through the subdivision process

What will you do with your subdivision

Before jumping headfirst into your subdivision project, you should first consider what you intend to achieve with your project.

There are wide range of options for you to undertake, including:

  1. Subdivide the land to sell
  2. Build a new house to sell on the subdivided land
  3. Build a new house on the subdivided land that you intend to use for family use or as an investment property
  4. Subdivide a section of land with existing housing, or a consent for land use has already been granted enabling the building of new dwellings

Your intentions will then enable a greater understanding of the consents that are needed to be granted in order to undertake your subdivision project.

Build options for your site

Whether it’s a standalone dwelling, duplex or terraced, there are options for your site to maximise your return.

From the outset there are a number of possible options for your site:

  1. Subdivide to build an additional Standalone dwelling;
  2. Create a Duplex residential dwelling (by way of an add on to an existing or removal and rebuild);
  3. Build Terraced housing

Each of these options comes with its own strengths and weaknesses depending to best benefit you.

Standalone Homes

There are a number of advantages that come with building a standalone dwelling, the main being that it is the conventional house form. Standalone homes are easily integrated into existing urban areas that your site may sit in and avoid the potential issues of boundaries when trying to include multiple dwellings on a single site.

Another big advantage of standalone homes is that the site can be maximised for the house. Thus, allowing the benefit of having a larger outdoor working space than what you would find with terraced or duplex dwellings.

With standalone housing, a downfall is that sites are now becoming smaller and house sizes are getting bigger, with this combination there is increased risk of standalone houses only bearing narrow, unusable outdoor spaces, and tight boundary lines with neighbouring houses. These small separations from boundaries may cause other issues, such as, limited natural heating and cooling as well as obstructed direct sunlight.

To maximise your investment in a standalone dwelling is placement on your site. If majority of the development is on the front area of the site, the amount of open space available for outdoor living can be maximised. This also ensures a greater distance between your property and those behind.

If you are working on a smaller site, there is an opportunity to maximise by building up rather than out. This provides the standalone house you desire while also maximise the site you’re working with.

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Duplex Dwellings

With the Auckland housing market stretched to an absolute limit, there’s a new kind of home being built across the suburbs. The rise of the duplex is here.

A duplex by nature is a house plan that has two living units attached to each other, either next to each other like a townhouse or above each other like a small apartment building. These kinds of homes are popping up as an approvable housing solution, essentially being a two for one deal when it comes to developers.

Building a duplex dwelling has some advantages over a standalone dwelling. The main drawcard is the price. Duplex dwellings are more cost-effective than a standalone house. They provide an ideal investment opportunity, with the possibility of a rental property on your site. Each duplex has its own separate, individual title, giving you complete ownership of that duplex. The duplex construction allows for multiple dwellings on smaller or more constrained sites. Duplex houses have more possibility for natural light to potentially enter the house from three sides of the property.

Duplex housing allows for higher density living, whilst still providing a sense of open space for those residing there.

A downfall of the duplex home is if not spaced or landscaped properly, the privacy of the home may be compromised by the close proximity of the neighbouring house.

Duplex housing is ideal for those trying to maximise corner sections or wider sites. This way you don’t have to worry about shared access as you would with standalone.

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Terrace Housing

Terrace housing is where each property shares a wall with their neighbour to fit more housing in one area. It’s a type of medium-density housing that’s quite common across Europe and the UK due to the lack of land space available to accommodate everyone who lives there.

Terraced housing comes with a major advantage, that they are affordable to build. Terraced housing are often simple, repetitive designs built with a single goal in mind, to maximise the investment of the site they are being built on. With each dwelling being connected to each other, there is no need for hefty exterior material costs.

Experienced developers within terrace housing know what type of plan is the right plan and its limitations and be able to work these within the local council guidelines. With pre-consented plans, developers and builders alike have certainty that a plan will work and everything has been consented and approved already.

A single block of terrace houses can be an ideal way to enter the world of property development. Especially in the Auckland market, your investment will see a return regardless of whether you plan to rent or sell once the project is completed.

Auckland council have understood the need for terrace housing developments and thus have created an entire zone specifically designed for medium density development within the Auckland Unitary Plan. This is the highest intensity of house and building zoning intended to enable a higher intensity of development. The buildings in this zone are near town centres and public services for the residents to access easily, bringing the advantage of an easier daily commute.

The Auckland Unitary Plan also has the Mixed housing urban zone, which also allows houses to be three storeys and take on a smaller terrace housing development. Over the years, these zones will begin to change in their appearance as the buildings change from their original houses to the new three-storey terrace houses and low-rise apartments allowed under the Auckland unitary plan. The idea of this zone is to increase the housing options for those who are looking to live closer to the city.

While highly advantageous, terraced housing also faces a problem on larger of being monotonous and repetitive. This making the site seem unattractive and not contributing much to the characteristics or look of the existing location.

terrace housing