Which prefabricated tiny house or cabin is best for your backyard?
If you need more space, consider modular buildings.
Modular buildings have come a long way since I had to walk to the drafty building behind the school hall to attend social studies classes. These days, it can be as simple or luxurious as you want it to be.
From large apartments with separate bedrooms and en-suite bathrooms, to simple rooms that can fit an extra bed, desk or workroom. If it is less than 30 square metres, they may not need approval.
In fact, there’s almost no place you can’t put a prefabricated room if you have the time, money, and perseverance to get it done. Just check out the steep, narrow spot where Ash and Mareike Isherwood had a pair of their three-tonne Podlife pods dropped off in Wellington. The couple now offer the pods as a charming, bush-shrouded retreat.
Builderscrack.co.nz spokesperson Jeremy Gray says installing one in your backyard can be as simple as laying a slab of concrete. The steps and requirements that you need to perform prior to delivery should be specified as part of the procurement process.
“Any reputable pod company will provide you with a full specification of what they need to drop product on your property.”
If the studio is less than 30 square metres, you may not need approvals, thanks to the exceptions to the Building Code 2020 which mean anyone can build a sleeping quarter, garage or shed without needing council permission.
However, you will still need to comply with the Building Standards Code, meet recession plans and other council rules, such as keeping it 1.5m from the boundary line, or the main dwelling.
If the room is going to be a habitable second dwelling, with a kitchen or bathroom, there will likely be “a lot of council requirements that need to be met”, Gray says, and you’ll need to consult your council building planning and approvals office, or check the council website.
Because they are movable, prefabricated pods require more structural integrity and therefore cost slightly more to manufacture than a site-built structure. However, the ready-made capsule is transportable, which means you can take the capsule with you if you move, sell, or move it elsewhere.
“There are other aspects that make for cost savings,” says Gray. “And they are produced in a factory under controlled conditions. Weather and other delays can be controlled more tightly, which reduces costs.”
“Aside from the time needed to build the foundation, erecting this structure only takes one day. There can be minimal disruption to the site, unlike on-site construction, which can take a few weeks.”
If that sounds like you, take a look at these capsules, designed and made in Aoteroa-NZ:
Podlife – Contains fun starting at $26,000
Made from specially designed containers, Podlife pods come ready to be equipped with everything you need to create a simple abode on your property. They come in three sizes, including a small 10 square meter cubicle that would make an ideal workroom or office.
Site Homes – That Luxury Living Starting at $114,990.
Location Homes offers luxury, customizable units for homes and backyards with luxurious interiors and the option to add full kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry areas, or just create a little extra space. You can choose the interior finish of the wood and the kitchen.
Mypod – Kiwi ingenuity from $38,500
Built by owner Landon Neal since 2016, Mypods offers a range of size options, clad in cedar, to handle the elements and age in the landscape. The capsules come without anything in them, so you’ll need to budget to add to your own kitchenette or toilet.
ModPod – Small but powerful, starting at $16,490
If you’re looking for an extra bedroom for your grumpy teen, or a bedroom for when they come to stay, a mini pod might be for you. It measures under 10 square meters and does not require approval, but is double glazed and is electrically connected via the caravan outlet. The larger size comes with a shower room and toilet.
Arbol – Total starts at $249,000
That’s quite a change for a 29-square-meter studio, but these eco-cabins are customizable and upgradeable (how about a flush toilet so you – and the pod – can go anywhere), and are made from recycled hardwood sourced in Australia.