The top 5 things to consider when subdividing in Auckland

Thursday, 8 August 2019

We’ve put together our list of the top 5 things to consider when subdividing


1. What does the perfect section look like? 

The perfect section in Auckland at the moment is the one that you can afford to build on. Land is scarce and house prices are unaffordable for many, so the perfect site is one that you can make the most of and be creative with in how you use the area (which is why it does pay to have an architect involved early on). Before you consider what makes a site suitable, you need to examine why you’re considering subdividing.

2. What is your “why”?

This may sound obvious, but the first question to ask yourself is, “What do I want from this?” Why are you thinking about subdividing or building?

Do you have land beside your current house that you’re not using, that you can build on? Are you thinking about knocking down a house and rebuilding one or more properties on the same land? Do you want to build something that you can sell? Do you want to build something that will generate ongoing rental income for you? Do you want to build something to move into once you’ve sold what you’re currently living in on the same site?

Each of these scenarios brings with it different benefits as well as different restrictions, and the more we know about your end goals, the more options we can present.


3. What is the “new” Auckland Unitary Plan?

The Auckland Unitary Plan is a plan that Auckland Council has written to help deal with Auckland’s growth. It replaces the different district and regional plans that were in place when Auckland was made up of separate councils. One of the key roles of the Plan, as stated by Auckland Council, is to provide “the regulatory framework to help make Auckland a quality place to live, attractive to people and businesses and a place where environmental standards are respected and upheld”.

In short, the Plan affects your options regarding how you use your land.

Auckland Council has a lot of information and planning maps on its website, but for someone not used to reading this sort of information, it may be a bit of a headache to wade through and make sense of. If you’d rather we do the quick translating for you, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help!

4. How does the Auckland Unitary Plan affect your options?

There are a number of land use zones outlined in the Plan – including residential, business, open space, future urban, rural, special purpose, etc. Within the residential category, there are currently six types of residential zoning – Large Lot, Rural and Coastal Settlement, Single House, Mixed Housing Suburban, Mixed Housing Urban, Terrace Housing and Apartment Buildings. Each of these zones has rules and restrictions around what you are legally allowed to do when you build.

Before we go any further, let’s clear up the myth around “minimum lot size” that keeps coming up. Under the old planning rules, a site needed to be at least 600m2 or 800m2 before you could subdivide and add a new dwelling. This is no longer the case, as long as you can prove that you comply with all the Unitary Plan rules – that is, as long as you have a design which shows compliance with these rules.

To make things a bit easier to understand, we’ve created a table summarising the key restrictions for each of the six residential zones – allowing you to see at a glance how much building coverage is allowed, how much landscaped area you need to include, maximum building height, etc. If you’d like a copy, get in touch and we can email it to you.

5. Once you find out what zone you’re in, what do you need to do next?

Once we understand the limits in your zone and on your specific site, we can start looking at different options for your development.

We look at the orientation of the site, accessibility (driveway location and gradient), location of existing building(s), and whether these can be relocated elsewhere on the site. This will help us determine the best location and orientation for the new dwelling(s) to ensure we maximise sunlight, outlook and views while providing privacy to both indoor and outdoor spaces.

We also talk to you about possible project costs, required consultants on the project, and the involvement of a planner. While there is a lot of useful information on the Auckland Council website about the Unitary Plan, we always recommend getting a planner’s input early on to ensure that all other planning rules, overlays and standards are considered.

You can find out what zone your land is in is by entering your address into the Auckland Councils Unitary Plan website -

Again, if you need help interpreting any of this, just give us a call or get in touch by clicking here 

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