Tim Gittos and Caro Robertson of Space Craft Architects, and Mat Lee and Charlotte Key
Five lessons learnt on designing and building on a subdivided section.
Benefits big and small
There are many large and small benefits of a collective project like this. Sharing the costs of servicing, resource consent fees and materials makes for good savings throughout the build. The moral support of being in it together is invaluable. Now that the project is complete, this continues. We have one drop-saw, one lawnmower, one axe, one dumpling steamer, etcetera. We share transport to kindy and school, child-minding, cooking duties and beer runs (to name a few).
Putting in the time
It all takes time. The subdivision process takes longer than you think: in our case this was just short of a year. Many months were spent dealing with council and then servicing the sites, securing finance and finding a good and available builder. Make sure you plan for this from the outset and be patient.
Pre-existing sections are often massive: our sites are now 200 square metres each, which is ample for a family home if the overall footprint is kept to a minimum (approximately 40 square metres in this case). Taking time over site masterplanning – especially access, parking, planting areas and relative positioning of houses – can ensure that small sites work really well.
In our case, the steep inclination of the section really helps afford the houses similar access to light and views. It also creates more privacy (without needing fences!) between the houses, having a vertical as well as horizontal separation.
Communication is key
We are all still good friends with each other and with our builders Willy McClennan, Mataio Daniela and Marco Vasquez at Sequoia Construction. Good communication and clear structures are key to keeping things happy throughout the process.