De­sign note­book

Tim Git­tos and Caro Robert­son of Space Craft Ar­chi­tects, and Mat Lee and Char­lotte Key

HOME Magazine NZ - - Design Notebook -

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.

Site mas­ter­plan­ning

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.

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