Surveying for Terraced Houses: No Room for Error

William Cheung
William Cheung
Senior Associate Survey Manager (Land Transfer)
Terraced Housing

With a shortage of existing houses in Auckland and only a finite amount of land available, higher density housing is needed to support the growing population.

The kiwi dream was once to own a home with a big backyard. However, kiwis’ dreams and needs have changed and there is increasing demand for homes closer to central locations or public transport. But ultimately Auckland’s population growth demands more housing, and higher density housing solutions are required to support this.

One such solution is terraced housing. This type of housing is more commonly found in urban settings near the city centre or public transport i.e. bus stop or train station, with good access to local amenities. While traditionally a 900-1000m2 section of land would have just one standalone house, nowadays 8-10 terraced housing units could be developed on that same section of land. It is a much more efficient use of land and maximises the value by creating more homes.

What is Terraced Housing?

Terraced housing (or row-housing) is typically a row of adjoined housing units with two vertical party walls (shared) except for end-of-terrace units. Each housing unit is usually 2-3 storeys high with the front door directly off the street or a shared laneway at the rear. Unlike apartments, the owners have property rights to both the horizontal and vertical plane of the housing unit.

The Auckland Unitary Plan allows for the development of terraced housing in both the Terraced Housing and Apartment Buildings zone and the Mixed Housing Suburban zone.

Due to their smaller site sizes after subdivision, there is no room for error when it comes to terraced housing development projects

Here’s 3 things to consider when undertaking Terraced Housing Development projects:

Higher value but a longer project life span. Proceed with caution.

While a typical greenfield development project usually takes around 12 months to complete from consent, a terraced housing development project can easily take 24 months to complete. Not only is the timeframe longer, but also multiple houses are being built at the same time. Developers require more capital across a longer time, and there is a higher number of moving parts to be managed. It is important to work with a trusted land development partner who will be mindful of your needs and manage the risk throughout the project.

Accurate data is key to success.

A comprehensive site survey is critical at the design phase of a terraced housing development. The site survey is used to determine the topography of the existing site and inform the design of the terraced housing. Correct survey data is imperative for the design phase as it sets the project up for success. Incorrect survey data can impair later phases including architectural design, engineering design, resource consent, and reporting, which can lead to delays and rework. Working with surveyors who are experienced in this type of project will reduce the risk of rework and delays.

Design considerations for Terraced Housing.

Due to their close proximity, it is important terraced housing is well designed to avoid conflicts relating to access and privacy. Each terraced housing unit should also have access to natural sunlight. Getting these design considerations right is essential for creating a safe, enjoyable place that residents want to live in.

At Woods, we have a team of specialist surveyors, planners and engineers who work closely with our clients on compact housing developments such as terraced housing. Our multi-disciplinary approach offers a seamless experience for developers and delivers a complete project.

William Cheung – Woods Survey Manager (Land Transfer), Senior Associate