Architect looking to create an Airbnb for prefab granny flats

An architect is creating an online network that will allow Aucklanders to rent out their backyards through temporary prefabricated granny flats.

Slimby, or shared living in my backyard, is a Master's project that urban planning expert Tommy Honey is working on at Auckland's Unitec's Tech Futures Lab to bring together home owners wanting to subdivide their property for rent and tenants looking for transitional housing through a website like Airbnb.

Honey said the service would be a disrupter in the housing market, as off-site prefabricated houses could be built in a fraction of the time a house would normally be constructed on-site.

Architect Tommy Honey is working on Slimby for his Master's project, and has already garnered interest from prefabrication companies to partner.

"There's a lot of complexity for people who think they can't develop their land. I want to take the friction out of that," Honey said.

"It's like an evolved granny flat, which you can pack up after some years."

Honey said homeowners could either buy the dwellings for about $150,000 for a 50 square metre unit or just set up water and sewage facilities for $25,000, and let the prefabrication company retain ownership and take a cut from the rent.

He said he was tweaking the model to work with the Auckland Unitary Plan's minor dwellings unit restrictions, although as it stood it did not need permission from neighbours.

Slimby has already garnered interest from some prefabrication companies since the PrefabNZ CoLab conference in Auckland last week.

The home owners and renters will be able to connect through Slimby's online platform and dwellings will only be re-sold through the website.

Honey said prefabricated housing was the future and an answer to the housing crisis, and Slimby could provide transitional housing for Aucklanders during the KiwiBuild construction.

KiwiBuild minister Phil Twyford has said prefabricated factory-built houses and apartments could deliver 7000 homes a year.