When we had the idea to design and build our own “experimental” house, we knew location would be key. While there was no shortage of subdivision sections in the area, we were after something a little different – a high profile, main street site but not ‘Main Street’ (aka SH2). There were a few ‘back sections’ on the market – with lovely established trees, but no one would ever see what we had created. So we kept our eyes peeled for something different, and it happened to be right under our noses.

A property, just a few doors down from our own home, with a large enough section to subdivide, came onto the market. Rectangular in shape, with the house on the southern half, leaving the northern portion undeveloped. It ticked the boxes – street frontage on one of the busier streets in town, in easy walking distance to ‘Main Street’. The owners had planted a variety of beautiful natives around the perimeter – hebe, manuka, totara. Even better, the lot bordering the north boundary was a garden, adding to the feeling of lush vegetation and privacy.

We also discovered the section was on two titles – was it all too good to be true? Turns out, it was. The boundary between the two lots ran through the corner of the existing house. But it wasn’t an insurmountable problem – we just needed to do a boundary adjustment, requiring Resource Consent. We calculated we would be able to get close to 650m2 for the new section, which was an ideal size for what we were trying to achieve with space and privacy but without too much area for upkeep.

Even though we have extensive experience with Resource Consents, we still made a meeting with local Council, to talk through specifics of this site. Driveway access was a discussion point – there wouldn’t be enough room for the existing house to have a driveway on the street. Luckily, it was next to a shared driveway that it had a ‘Right of Way’ over. We could add access to the back of the developed section via this driveway, and then create a new ‘drive on’ access for the new section from the street.

Of course all this does cost money. We ran some numbers – there are cost considerations running services to a new section – power, sewer, water, telecommunications all need to be established. Council also requires a sizeable infrastructure contribution. We would need to engage a surveyor to accurately locate the boundaries for Resource Consent. But once we had considered everything we could see that the section was more than viable and once we had secured the land, and started the Resource Consent process we started to get excited about all the possibilities.

Our tips: Do your homework – a meeting with Council is a free and time-efficient way to ask all your questions and get the answers you need. It also demonstrates your willingness to work with them, which starts the working relationship off on the right foot. Follow up with an email to the person you met with summarising your understanding, and ask them to confirm you are on the same page.

Next time: Resource Consents | Are they as scary as they sound?