Sleepouts in New Zealand have become increasingly popular in recent years as homeowners seek to maximize their living space and create additional accommodation options. Whether you’re considering building a sleepout on your property or renting one for extra income, it’s important to understand the rules and regulations surrounding these structures. In this blog post, we will delve into the key aspects of sleepouts in NZ, providing you with the knowledge you need to navigate the legal requirements and ensure compliance.

What is a Sleepout?

A sleepout is a detached structure that typically consists of one or two rooms and is located on the same property as a main house. It’s an ideal solution for those needing more space without the cost and inconvenience of extending their home. Despite its name, a sleepout doesn’t have to be used exclusively for sleeping. It can serve various purposes like a home office, art studio, workshop, or even a rental space.

Building a Sleepout in NZ: Key Rules and Regulations

Before you start building your sleepout, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the local council rules and the New Zealand Building Code. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Size and Height Restrictions

The size and height of your sleepout are subject to restrictions. Generally, a sleepout must not exceed a certain floor area (usually around 10 square meters) and a specific maximum height (often around 3.5 meters). However, these specifications can vary depending on your local council, so it’s essential to check with them first.

  1. Building Consent

In many cases, you won’t need building consent for your sleepout if it falls within the size and height restrictions mentioned above. However, this rule only applies if the sleepout doesn’t include facilities like a kitchen or bathroom. If you plan to include these facilities, you’ll likely need to apply for building consent.

  1. Placement on Property

There are also rules about where you can place a sleepout on your property. These rules generally relate to how close the sleepout can be to the property boundaries and the main house. Again, these rules can vary, so it’s crucial to check with your local council.

  1. Compliance with the New Zealand Building Code

Regardless of whether your sleepout requires a building consent, it must comply with the New Zealand Building Code. This means it must meet standards relating to durability, fire safety, access, moisture control, and more.

  1. Building Consents for Rental Sleepouts

If you plan to rent your sleepout as a separate dwelling, you must obtain additional consent. This will often involve applying for resource consent from your local council. This consent ensures that the sleepout complies with zoning rules, density restrictions, and other requirements for rental accommodation. Failure to secure the necessary consent could result in penalties or legal complications, so following the proper procedures is essential.

Making Your Sleepout in NZ a Success

To ensure your sleepout project goes smoothly, consider the following tips:

  1. Consult with Professionals

Before starting your project, it’s wise to consult with a professional such as a builder, architect, or planning consultant. They can help you navigate the rules and regulations and ensure your sleepout is compliant.

  1. Consider Your Needs

Think about what you want to use your sleepout for. This will influence its design and whether you need to include facilities like a bathroom or kitchen.

  1. Plan for the Future

Consider how your needs might change in the future. Designing your sleepout with flexibility in mind will ensure it continues to serve you well for years to come.

Final Thoughts: 

Building a sleepout in NZ can be a fantastic way to add extra space and value to your property. However, it’s crucial to understand the rules and regulations to ensure your project is compliant. By doing your research, consulting with professionals, and planning carefully, you can create a sleepout that meets your needs and enhances your property.