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failed garage conversion: what now?

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  • failed garage conversion: what now?

    Hi this is a bit embarrassing but here we go:

    We have a nice we 3 b/r house with attached garage, but not internal access.

    We have started a conversion of the garage into a wee 2 b/r flat with bathroom and small kitchenette, which we were hoping to rent separately from the main house.

    All walls are up, and bathroom nearly finished. Builder obviously wasn't savvy with council rules and gave us some false advice, ie we just need a consent for plumbing and electrical.

    Now we know we need resource consent to put in a separate dwelling with a kitchen, which would include getting neighbours permission, as well as paying $10,000 to 15,000 building fee to council.

    We are shitting ourselves, as have already spent alot of money so far. please don't tell me to sue the builder, as we are just as at fault for checking properly ourselves. we are pretty mad with him tho.

    anyway, we need to salvage what we can without spending more and more. the two options that i can see are:

    1. the cheaper option, would be to keep the bathroom, lounge and 2 bedrooms. put a tub in the kitchen with the washing machine (the garage housed the laundry before, but we have also moved the current tenant's washing machine into the big house). we would have to extend the fire wall into the ceiling so that is the only extra expense from the original plan.

    then rent it out as a whole unit, ie 3 b.r house with 2 b/r sleepout with bathroom (but no kitchen). we can't legally put a kitchen in without resource consent. (although with a laundry tub, they can use it as a kitchen if they want to???)

    do you guys see any problems trying to rent out that configuration? this is in chch and i know rentals are scarce, but how many families can afford 3 b/r plus 2 b/r? not that many extended families want to live that close to each other. or else we mite be able to rent it to workers??

    we can't rent the unit separately as legally it hasn't got a kitchen, and the council know we have been building.

    2. move a couple of walls and make the whole place into a 5 b/r house. this would involve spending more money as moving the walls etc and taking down one that has just gone up. but once again how many families can afford a 5 b/r house?

    with option 2 our costs would be higher, so would people suggest option 1?

    please don't tell me we deserve what we get. we have been trying really hard to find a way to get some cashflow, and buying houses in chch is too dear currently, and we haven't been able to find any.

    we would also be interested if anyone can suggest an experienced investor to act as a mentor. please don't suggest those companies who want you to pay $5000 - 10,000 up front for life time mentoring.


  • #2
    With all those "please don't's" I'm at a loss to suggest anything. Option 3 is to carry on and not tell the council and hope your neighbours or tenants don't dob you in. Q: Would you want to use a laundry tub to wash both clothes and dishes? I know I'd not want my skid-stained G-strings anywhere near my cutlery. What about cooking? I thought the primary definition of a kitchen was the existence of a stove, not a basin.


    • #3
      Could you rent it as a doss-house type arrangement - by the room, sort of thing. Then a single kitchen would be fine, but you'd have to allow for free-flow between gge and house.


      • #4
        There are 2 layers of consenting involved and sometimes they get confused.
        1. Land use consents under the RMA and District Plan.
        What you build on a piece of land ( even a dog house or chook shed) is either permitted if you comply with performance standards (rules), or discretionary if it falls outside what is permitted but can be allowed as long as it is subject to some scrutiny concerning the effects it may have on the environment or others. It will require a Resource (land use) consent and there may have to be conditions attached to minimise any adverse effects.
        There are other classifications but for your situation I will make some assumptions.
        Firstly that the existing garage is legal and complies with permitted rules or has a resource consent. Secondly that a second dwelling on the property in the( form and location of the garage) is not permitted as of right under the local plan (because it breachs some of the rules) which means that you need a resource consent and the proposal is examined on its merits with an assessment as to the effects.
        It may well be that in your area the local amenity is importantand the community want it protected from ad hoc poorly designed living accommodation (such as converted garages).
        Incidentally the “building fees” will be Development contributions which are levied on residences (House hold equivalent units) on the basis that the residential use causes the need to improve and upgrade services. (Maybe they should have beenmore rigorously applied many years back in relation to transport needs inAuckland?).

        2. Building consent under the Building act.
        This ensures that the structure is safe for its intended purpose. You don’t need one for a dog kennel but you do if people will use it. Again there are performance standards (rules) covering ventilation,strength (including earthquake resistance), noise, fire risk, health (re sanitary services), flooding and storm water etc. ( All needed to ensure we don’t have problems similar to what might be found in Bangladesh for eg.)
        A major definition is found when determining what is a ‘dwelling ’as opposed to what is a ‘sleepout’ or additional room to an existing dwelling and the determining factor has been the existence of a ‘kitchen’. There has been lots of discussion on this subject and I don’t intend to repeat it all here. Just search this forum for “garage conversions” or ‘sleepouts’ and read up before you decide what to do...
        I cant give advice as I don’t know enough about thecircumstances but since the Council know what you are doing wouldn’t that be agood place to start? Do not believe thestories that they will tie you to a stake and flog you. What they will do is find a way forward that considers the wider community, not just your needs or wants.
        Remember that no one wants people living in converted garages in their street unless its them and they can rent it out!
        Last edited by Shalodge; 01-05-2013, 02:37 PM.


        • #5
          Really? The council bully who signed off my extension was inches away from flogging me when I had the gall to question his decision & motives. It depends on who you get, Frances. Most however are fairly reasonable and usually quite socialist in their outlook as per Shalodge's penultimate sentence.


          • #6
            Talk to a property manager. Ask what is the rental demand for
            a) your 3 bedroom with 2 bedroom sleepout. I think you will actually find this is quite high. Lots of big families out there, or families with grandparents or teeanagers who would lover their extra space. Or even a group of workers, who don't care, but haven't seperate lounges and more bathrooms would be handy.
            b) 5 bedroom house (I don't see the point in doing this, as long as the 3brm joins into the 2 bdrm sleepout, why do you need to change anything?

            Once you know how easy it will be to rent these, then you can review options.

            Book a free chat here
            Ross Barnett - Property Accountant


            • #7
              I would definitely go for option 1 and rent your current configuration out as one tenancy. Set ups like this are renting for between $550 - $650 a week here in Auckland.

              In the advert you could advertise as 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house plus 3 detached utility rooms for use as gym and rumpus.

              You could look at going the fully legal Home and Income route in a couple of years once you were in a position to sink some more money into the project to fully comply with council regulations. But most probably you will quickly come to the conclusion it will not make financial sense to do a legal conversion.

              Here are a few examples from south Auckland


              Last edited by Shane D; 01-05-2013, 02:55 PM.


              • #8
                I agree with Shane that's your best option right now- what people use the "rooms" for are up to them its the rent your interested in and maximising that.


                • #9
                  Hi mate,

                  Yeah depending on what area of Christchurch there should be good demand for a larger home like this. We have done a bunch of garage conversions lately and would be great to have a coffee and talk over some further options you might want to look into. Get in touch via our site at chchproperty.co.nz



                  • #10
                    Yes I agree with Nathan, I think your first step should be to get rental appraisal reflecting the following:

                    1. How much rent can you get as 1 tenancy if you convert the garage to an extra bedroom/ sleep out.

                    2. If you on very the garage to a bed-sit or sleep out wit bathroom and toilet.

                    Note that on of ge above would be legal separate units, for converting the garage to a second enhibatel unit with full cooking facilities you will most like need to spend money on council contributions, separate services, fire rating and the list goes on. This is provided the zoning allow for a minor dwelling / household unit.

                    I looked at it in Chch for my propery there and for me it wasn't worth it, but in Auckld it was worth it as the rents much higher.
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                    • #11
                      Building standards are supported by some reasons

                      I know not making any friends when saying most people in this forum should know better. Regardless one unit or two – maybe four adults in the 3-br, and three in the 2-br, we talk about 7 or more people wanting a toilet seat, showering, cooking, etc. If there is not enough facilities the water from condensation will run down on windows and walls, the bathroom never dries up – I sense a lot of unhappy people, starting with somebody in the toilet queue and the LL won’t be happy either because of the moisture damage to the building and frequent renovations.
                      ROI is key for investments, but when something went wrong get it fixed to building standards.


                      • #12
                        In Christchurch at the moment, a more likely scenario (depending somewhat on where the property is) is 5 singles people (builders / tradespeople) sharing the 2 bathrooms and 1 kitchen, rather than 7 or more people. That would probably be fine.

                        frances56, just to check, how big is the section and what zone is it (or street if you don't know the zone)?


                        • #13
                          from memory the section is just over 800m2 but that includes the long driveway. the zone is L2 i think, Cranford Street.
                          Last edited by frances56; 01-07-2013, 03:22 PM.


                          • #14
                            hello thanks to all who have replied.

                            we are in chch, so prices are different from auckland. we have had a rent appraisel, and a 5.b/r house is appraised at $550.with this option we would put a connecting door between the two, also having to put a small wall up to extend the existing hall in the main house.

                            the house plus 2 b/r sleepout either marketed as sleepout or office space or whatever, $600-620. with this option we will have to put a fire wall between house and sleepout.

                            i have spoken to the council as we don't want to spend any more money without doing it right. they say we could make it into a family flat, and rent out to earthquake workers until 2022 (depending on other stuff they don't go into detail. they do make life difficult). we don't need resource consent for a family flat. that would bring in $650 approx week if we could separate it legally from the house and rent as a separate thing.

                            council say we have to prove the family flat was made for that purpose (don't say what proof we have to provide). we also have to only rent out to earthquake workers who come to chch especially (that should be easy i guess in the first instance).

                            has anyone had experience with providing family flats/earthquake accommodation and their dealings with the council?

                            easiest for us would be: could just keep it as a sleepout, with no kitchen, therefore no resource consent needed. and rent it separately from the house. are we allowed to rent out a sleepout, knowing the tenants will probably put a microwave or mini stove top in? (we would put into tenancy agreement, that the sleepout doesn't include kitchen) doing it as a sleepout means we don't need to do the legal requirements for a family flat, or rent out to just earthquake workers.

                            if the tenants put in, say, a microwave, or stove top, would the council come back on us for that? or the insurance company?


                            • #15
                              there are 2 bathrooms Klauster