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Is more necessarily better?

Is more necessarily better? 🤔 It’s a question I’m asking myself at present regarding the next phase of our property investment journey. When we started building our portfolio 20 years ago, we bought predominantly 600m2+ sections. The reason for this was to ultimately use the land to add to our portfolio by adding a Minor Dwelling. This is what was generally allowable under the previous council rules. The Auckland Unitary Plan (AUP) has changed this dramatically and now you can potentially build a lot more than just a 60m2 minor unit. The attached photo is a current development that is almost complete in Mangere. It is on a 723m2 section. The existing 3-bedroom house has been moved to the rear of the site and there are three new, 4-bedroom homes built at the front. We are building these as long term holds.

What I’m not so sure about is what is the right balance here. Just because you can build more, does this mean that you should? My concerns around a lot of the development going on is that there is very little thought given to the overall design as well as who the end user is going to be. I see some people just jam in as many houses/units as they can but the design is often with very tight spaces, tiny bedrooms, sometimes no dining spaces (just a breakfast bar) and it’s a 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom home (sometimes with no garaging). Think about how many people will be living in there. How are they going to function in those spaces? Some plans on 600m2 sections have 4 x 5 bedroom houses on them. You’re probably going to have at least eight occupants in a 5-bedroom home, with about two cars per home. All of a sudden, on a 600m2 site, we now have 32 people living in the four new homes, a minimum of eight cars, very tight living spaces and all of this before any of their friends or family come around. With so much development going on right now (as was the intended purpose of the AUP), the end buyer/tenant will have lots of choices. We want them to see our property as more desirable than the competition. I’d like to build a sustainable, relatively stress free property portfolio and I can see potential problems arising with the above. The design is a crucial part of the process. I’m not sure if I have got it quite right myself yet but we continue to learn. Again, the question arises, is more necessarily the best thing to do? Cheers, Arn

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