Buyers and tenants love off-street parking. So much so that the annual Barfoot & Thompson tenant survey late last year found that car parking spaces are the most sought-after extra features for tenants.

The word "parking" often features prominently in for sale listings. Homeowners like to park their cars off the road for safety and convenience.

Harcourts franchisee Graham Viall says new homes are often on smaller sections than in the past, making off-street parking difficult.

By adding parking options, owners make their properties more desirable — especially if they are on the main road. It's more secure to park off the road, says Viall.

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The more densely populated the area and the harder it is to get a park outside the house, the more important off-street parking becomes.

Homeowners have a range of options for creating additional off-street parking. The most desirable will usually be a garage. But carports, paved areas or even grass pavers add extra parking space.

Before making any decisions of how to create that parking, owners need to weigh up a number of factors including whether a loss of the green space in the garden will have a negative effect on the sale price, whether planning permission is needed, what's permitted under the local district plan, and whether it's possible to add a dropped kerb.

Owners wanting a new garage or carport need to check their district plan to see if planning and/or resource consent is needed.

Each district plan is different but there will be an allowable site coverage. The height relative to boundary and distance from the boundary is also important. If the work falls outside of the district plan rules, a resource consent is needed before you can build.

Even if consents aren't needed, the work still needs to meet the New Zealand Building Code and owners must employ licensed and registered tradespeople to do building, plumbing, electrical and some other work.

By adding parking options, owners make their properties more desirable — especially if they are on the main road. It's more secure to park off the road

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Sometimes a new dropped curb is needed. But replacing the curb at the owner's convenience is a no-no. Instead, owners need to apply to Auckland Transport or other relevant authority for permission.

There are a range of rules related to private vehicle crossings. For example, vehicle crossings for a single dwelling can be no wider than 3m at the boundary between private property and the road reserve.

Other engineering standards list the thickness and strength of concrete required, the integration of the footpath and maximum gradients. In Auckland the application fee is $328, which covers three field inspections.

The same fee applies whether the owner is building a new vehicle crossing or altering an existing one — such as widening or relocating it.

Garages and carports can be expensive to build. The cheaper option is simply adding more concrete driveway and parking space.

Changing lawn area into a driveway may require resource consent in certain circumstances, says Ian Smallburn, general manager resource consents at Auckland Council.

"For example [you may require resource consent] where the maximum impervious area of a site as a result of the new driveway area exceeds of percentage allowable under the Auckland Unitary Plan," says Smallburn.

The percentage differs according to the relevant zoning. It ranges from 60 per cent of the site area in residential single house zones, to 70 per cent of the site for residential terrace housing and apartment buildings. The rules also include a number of other limitations.

Grass pavers are a cheap option that are popular with investors in particular. They don't usually need planning permission.

They give off-street parking with the strength and durability of a paved surface with the natural green welcoming look of a grass lawn. If you plan to park on them for long periods of time, the grass will die, says Viall.

Suppliers such as Firth now offer permeable pavers that allow water to pass through them. This assists in the management of rain and storm water run-off.

Permeable pavers can be used on driveways and would not count as being impervious area but this is dependent on the type/brand of paver being used and how it is maintained, says Stuart Girvan, Firth's technical and specification advisor.

He says when installed as a passive system, the Firth FlowPave system is treated like grass and requires no additional council consents.

These pavers reduce rainfall run-off from hard surfaces, decreasing the demand on drainage systems and reduce the need for retention structures such as ground sumps, ponds or dams, says Girvan.

They also retain water within them, which helps recharge natural groundwater and aquifers and other benefits.

Whatever materials you choose to use, laying a driveway requires good planning. An experienced contractor can help with information about water drainage, height above ground, and where control joints should go, says Adam Leach, information and communications manager at Concrete New Zealand.