Rates, Building & Property

Minor dwellings and dependent dwelling units

Here’s what you need to know before you build a minor dwelling or granny flat on your property. There are different rules depending on whether your site is zoned rural or residential.

Residential zone: Minor dwellings

Minor dwellings are self-contained units built on the same site as the main house, and can be rented out. They do not require a resource consent if they comply with the permitted performance standards.

Under the District Plan, minor dwellings are a ‘permitted activity’. This means that if your minor dwelling meets all the rules, you won’t need resource consent.

Your minor dwelling also needs to meet any other requirements for your land zoning, such as soundproofing if you live near the airport.

The main rules for minor dwellings

  • Number – you can only have one minor dwelling with one main dwelling on a site.
  • Floor area – the minor dwelling can’t be bigger than 80m2.
  • On-site amenity – the minor dwelling must have a private outdoor amenity area of 30m2, be able to accommodate a circle of 4m in diameter, have direct contact with the main living area and be orientated to the east, west or north of the unit.
  • Residential zone bulk and location requirements – you will need to comply with the residential zone requirements.
  • Air noise control – the District Plan has requirements for acoustics and insulation if you live in an ‘air noise control area’, like near the airport.

Minor dwelling guidance

We’ve created a design guide to help you find out if you can add a minor dwelling to your residential property. Its purpose is to answer common questions and help you develop your project by working through:

  • what you can build on your site and where
  • planning your site for best use of space
  • the minor dwelling rules (residential standards) of the Palmerston North City Council District Plan and how to apply them.

If you've looked at the guidance and think you meet all the rules but you still aren't sure, please contact our building and planning team.

Rural zone: Dependent dwellings

Dependent dwelling units are self-contained units for relatives, older or unwell people, built on the same site as the main house. They require resource consent.

Under the District Plan, dependent dwelling units are a ‘controlled activity’. This means that if your unit meets all the rules, your resource consent application won’t need written consent from anyone.

The main rules for dependent dwellings

  • Number – you can only have one dependent dwelling unit with one main dwelling on a site.
  • Floor area – the dependent dwelling unit can’t be bigger than 100m2.
  • Duration – once a dependent person ceases to live in the unit, the dependent dwelling unit must be removed or integrated into the main dwelling building within six months. Removing kitchen facilities is considered to be integrating into the main dwelling.
  • Rural zone bulk and location requirements – you will need to comply with the rural zone requirements.
  • Air noise control – the District Plan has requirements for acoustics and insulation if you live in an ‘air noise control area’, like near the airport.