Breaking Down the Tiny House Laws in NZ

The tiny house movement is growing around the world, and in New Zealand, as housing becomes increasingly unaffordable, tiny homes are becoming exponentially more attractive. As New Zealand doesn’t currently have any definitive laws on what constitutes a tiny house, owners and potential buyers of tiny homes are asking for clarity on the laws surrounding them.

In March 2020, a group of tiny house owners and builders presented a petition to Parliament, asking it to pass legislation to recognise and protect the rights of tiny house owners and to implement a low-cost compliance framework. As of today, it is unclear whether tiny houses and tiny houses on wheels (THOWs) are subject to building and resource consents.

In this blog post, we break down the rules and regulations around small dwellings in NZ so you can be sure your tiny house is compliant.

Government Review Should Rule Out Confusion

Tiny homes should be easier to build after a Government review that looks to take away the challenges and confusion over existing rules. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) will start drafting a guidance document from 2022, to assist councils, builders, and tiny homeowners around New Zealand to navigate building regulations.

Tiny homes have for some time been one of the solutions to New Zealand’s housing crisis, but the current building regulatory process is, to put it mildly, a challenge for all concerned. Tiny houses that stand permanently on a particular site are generally uncontroversial in terms of whether they require a building consent. However, the new Act passed in August last year dictated that single-storey, detached buildings up to 30m2 will no longer require a building consent. The problem here is that this does not include buildings that have sanitary facilities, a potable water supply, and cooking facilities.

Should a Portable House Comply With the Building Code?

The inconsistencies in how THOWs are defined has caused some confusion around whether moveable tiny homes are buildings, which required building consents under the Building Act, or vehicles, which do not. In other words, are there regulations for building a house on wheels, and is a transportable house a caravan?

In New Zealand, as there are no specific regulations relating to tiny houses on wheels, the rules for caravans and tiny houses are often seen as interchangeable. Therefore, if a tiny house is built as a transportable dwelling, it may be exempt from the requirements of the Building Code and may not require a Building Consent.

Why Are Tiny Homes Becoming so Popular?

Over the past few years, the trend towards living in a tiny home has become an increasingly popular option for Kiwis, so what are the reasons for this? As mentioned, for some it could be their answer to how the housing crisis has affected them and could realistically be their only chance to get onto the property ladder. It could be concluded that tiny homes are changing what it means for people to own a home.

For others, it reflects a trending move towards the wish to live minimally and reducing the space they take up, leading to a more simplified lifestyle. Because tiny homes are so small, living in them requires frequent decluttering, meaning there is less to clean and maintain. More time to enjoy life and live in the present!

Tiny Homes HQ For Flexible Use Cabins

Due to their affordability, sustainability and, in the case of THOWs, mobility, tiny homes are a lifestyle move that is drawing worldwide interest. You can choose from any of our eight flexible use cabins, offering cabins on finance. They all contain space-saving design features for smarter living, so step inside one today to make your choice for the future!