A woman who has saved hundreds of neglected and abused animals and her mother are now scrambling for help after someone reported their unconsented tiny homes to the authorities.
Donna Badorek, who runs Donna Doolittle's Animal Rescue, and her mum Jacqueline need thousands of dollars to get their two tiny homes consented following a complaint to the Far North District Council.
The pair sold their previous houses a few years ago, and bought piece of land at Peria, with the aim of building a bigger and better facilities to allow them to rescue more animals. Most of the money from the sales went into the 4.5ha block, with "a bit left over" to put two small roofs over their own heads.
Badorek, a veterinary nurse, put a 28 square metre house on the site, with her mum nearby in a 48 square metre container home. Work on the new kennel facility began last month.
Badorek said she received a call from FNDC animal control following a query by a resident regarding how big her new rescue complex was going to get. She thought it was a legitimate query from someone in the neighbourhood, and happily told the council of her plans.
"Not long after that the Far North District Council came down our driveway, wanting to take pictures of the property. They also saw mum's house, so that's come into the equation," she said.
Badorek was told to get an engineers' report and a certificate of acceptance, which had cost more than $2300, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.
"We're looking at having to have site plans done, resource consent, I have to jack up my house and bolt it into the ground, get approval for where the wastewater goes - it's a whole bunch of stuff," she said.
"Mum and I don't have any money to do these consents. We just don't have it."
A Givealittle page had as of last week raised almost $7500, while Badorek said she had also received numerous offers of help and consulting advice from professionals in Northland and Auckland.
FNDC district services general manager Dr Dean Myburgh said the council had received a complaint about illegal earthworks, additional residential units and a potential dog kennel on the site in November. Two unauthorised dwellings had been found there.
"Council staff advised the owner that both building and resource consents would be required for the buildings," he said.
"From a Building Act perspective, residential dwellings, irrespective of size, require a building consent." The district plan also limited the number of dwellings permitted on any property. Badorek's property was in a Rural Production zone, which allowed one home per 12ha.
"This property will require a resource consent to keep both dwellings," Myburgh said.
"Council will work with the owners to advise on what is needed to bring the property into compliance."
Badorek said her tiny home was built by a professional builder in Whangārei, and the electrics and plumbing had also been done by qualified people. She had certificates to prove the works had been carried out safely.
"We were aware there were consents we needed to get, but if we got those we couldn't afford the homes," she said.
"Everything we did was with the focus of being a better animal rescue with better facilities and more land for them to run around. It's not like we built extravagant houses."