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Can you build a second house on your land?

Do you have some space on your property for a second home? Are you looking for ways to add value to your property?

Building a second dwelling or granny flat is a wise decision because they are incredibly versatile and adaptable. In this article, we explore the various considerations to make when building a second dwelling, including the various South Island council requirements. 

What is a second dwelling or granny flat? 

Second dwellings, or granny flats, are residential units built on the same lot as a primary dwelling. They are fully self-contained with independent living, sleeping, eating, cooking, sanitation, and parking facilities. While similar to a tiny home, second dwellings are generally more permanent and customisable. Popular reasons to build a second dwelling include: 

  • A private space for elderly parents or teenage children. 

  • More living space.

  • Increased value to the property.

  • Rentals to generate additional income. 

  • Guest houses.

Unlike sleepouts, second dwellings and granny flats are equipped with plumbing, electricity, bathroom facilities, and kitchen facilities. Essentially, they serve as an entirely independent residence.

Can you build a second house on your land?

South Island Council Requirements — Second dwellings

Each council has varying restrictions and rules surrounding second dwellings so you must speak with your local council directly. 

Building consent

All South Island districts require that second dwellings require building consent if they are over 30m2 and have a bathroom and kitchen. All plumbing work requires building consent and all electrical work must be completed by a registered electrician. If you want any of these facilities, you need to obtain building consent from your local council. 

Resource consent

Under the Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS), some second dwellings may not require resource consent. Currently, this applies to the major cities and states that you can build three homes of up to three stories and up to 50% land coverage without resource consent. If in doubt, speak to your local council. 

Second dwelling size

In most districts, the maximum for second dwellings is set at 70-75m2. However, some districts allow up to 90m2

Subdividing your land

If you want to sell the second dwelling separately from your primary home, you may want to subdivide it under a new property title. However, keeping the two dwellings on the same property will add significant value and allow you to use them according to your lifestyle. 

In most cases, you don’t need to subdivide your land for a second dwelling. However, always check with your local council.


Second dwelling prices vary depending on your location, local materials, and labour. For an accurate price, we recommend speaking directly with our team of consultants. For example, our 2-bedroom Moeraki house plan has a base cost of $303,000* and our 2-bedroom Pukaki 2 house plan base cost starts at $394,000*. 

*All prices are indicative and are subject to individual requirements and delivery conditions. Prices include GST and are based on the standard plan with standard specifications. Prices include Code of Compliance, carpets, appliances & fittings as per our standard specifications for each range. 

Why prefabs are ideal for second dwellings

If the idea of having tradespeople on your property is putting you off from building a second dwelling, a prefab home is the perfect solution. Since prefabs are built in a controlled factory, your property is unaffected for most of the project. When the home is complete, delivery and site work can be completed in a few weeks. 

Key benefits include:

  • Fast build times.

  • Minimal noise on your property.

  • Fewer weather delays.

  • Full project management.

  • No tradespeople on your site for long periods.

  • No mess or waste on your property.

We can design, build, and deliver your second dwelling anywhere in the South Island. We’ll even project manage the entire process and sort all the consents and permits for you. For more information on your local consent regulations, ask our team for an onsite consultation.

Second dwelling house plans NZ

If you want to expand your property portfolio without breaking the bank, our Second Dwelling range is full of functional house designs. Click below to get your free copy of the brochure and browse all of our smaller house plans. 

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