An architect is creating an online network called Slimby, which will enable homeowners to earn money from unused back sections of their property.

The name Slimby stands for 'shared living in my backyard' and would see homeowners rent prefabricated granny flats then make them available to short- or long-term tenants.

The brain behind this idea is architect Tommy Honey, who sees this as an opportunity to provide cheaper housing to renters and holidaymakers as well as additional income to homeowners.

Honey told Newstalk ZB's Kate Hawkesby the units will be built offsite by a construction or prefab company and then placed in the homeowner's backyard.


Honey is confident the scheme will not contravene any Auckland Council regulations, saying that homeowners are allowed to put a second minor dwelling on their property as long as it doesn't exceed certain size limitations.

"I'm curious as to why there's no disruption in housing," Honey said.

"Uber disrupted the taxi industry and Airbnb has disrupted accommodation, but I wonder why this hasn't happened to housing."

Honey said Aucklanders need not worry about the aesthetic impact that these prefab units might have on the suburban landscape.

"If you go online there are actually some amazing examples, both here and internationally of people putting up smart buildings," he said.

"People think that when something is small it has to be ugly, when, actually, it's absolutely the opposite. These can be really smart units that might have solar power and might even have a Tesla power pack battery to store the power."

Homeowners are already able to independently arrange Council consent and then approach a prefab manufacturer to have a prefab granny flat installed.

The difference with this model, however, is that the homeowner now has the choice to lease the granny flat rather than buying it outright.


He anticipates the cost of entry will be around $15,000 to $20,000 for the homeowner.

The landowner and the prefab company will both get a cut of the money earned from the tenancy.

"Anyone can quit out at any time," Honey said.

"If after a few years, the landlord says, 'I don't want it anymore, take it away.' We can just pick it up and take it elsewhere."

- Newstalk ZB