SNUG design competition

Introducing the SNUG - a PrefabNZ design competition for 'a home in my backyard'

Introduction | SNUG Winners/Finalists | SNUG Overview | Dates | Judges | Q&A | Partners

The SNUG compettion has ended, follow how SNUG can be in your backyard here

The SNUG is a complementary dwelling for your back garden - somewhere that can be a home for your children as they adventure out into independent living, a safe place for extended family members, or a work-space to provide an alternative to commuting.

PrefabNZ has delivered design competitions before. In 2015-16, the UNIpod utility pod became the world's first open-source design for a bathroom and kitchen pod. The competition was won by FirstLight Studio and a prototype was built by Stanley Group together with a range of sponsorship partners - thank you to those wonderful people. See more about the UNIpod here

The SNUG competition was launched in March 2018 to open up the conversation about alternative housing options. The end result will be a pattern-book selection of finalists so that prospective homeowners can pick-and-choose the SNUG option that suits them and their backyard. Keep your eyes peeled for the magazine profile later in 2018. Read on for more information about why the SNUG competition is important and importantly how you can be involved in generating these housing solutions...

The bad news shows that New Zealanders have not got enough affordable housing options. There are record low levels of home ownership. There are growing 1-2 person household numbers. And the market is dominated by large homes with over-inflated average floor areas (250m2) that don't meet our needs. We're also not getting any younger...

  • By 2030, New Zealand’s social and built environment will change in dramatic ways
  • 75,000 social and retirement housing units are needed by 2030
  • Current delivery rate is up to 3,000 units per annum so a shortage of about 30,000 homes is forecast by 2030
  • There is a need for a fit-for-purpose, on-time, on-budget built response
  • Key challenges are in bite-sized innovation that can be readily absorbed into business-as-usual

(Source: PrefabNZ Social + Retirement Housing Pipeline, 2015)

The good news shows that we have the potential to address part of the affordability problem with smaller smarter answers, such as secondary home options -

  • There are 180,000 ‘hidden homes’ in New Zealand – with huge potential to meet our housing needs through partitioning and other Accessory Dwellings
  • Almost 11 percent of New Zealand’s housing stock is significantly under-utilised and could be partitioned to deliver 180,000 additional dwellings
  • Those additional dwellings could be delivered without impinging on greenfield sites

(Source: CRESA, Report on Accessory Dwelling Units + Partitioning, 2018)

SNUG Winners and Finalists

We were thrilled to recognise the SNUG home design competition finalists, winners and special prize awards together with Mayor Phil Goff of Auckland. Thanks to our fantastic SNUG teams, SNUG competition partners and SNUG commercial partners. See the full list of award recipients below:

  • People’s Choice Award Winner = Flip SNUG
    First Light Studio with Panelwood + Victoria University student Brittany Irvine
  • International Judge’s Award Winner = Porch SNUG
    Studio Pacific Architecture with LT McGuiness + student Oliver Shand

Six SNUG Winners

  • Casabella SNUG
    QuikFab with Alessandro Quadrelli Architect + student Kerryn Elliott
  • Flip SNUG
    First Light Studio with Panelwood + Victoria University student Brittany Irvine
  • Pitch SNUG
    Portabuild with Shepherd & Rout Architects + student Charlie Devine
  • Kowae SNUG
    Litegreen with Barry Connor Architect + student Mathew Grayling
  • Whare Iti SNUG
    Aonui Architects with Red Stag + student Jennifer Koat
  • Thrive SNUG
    Catalyst Homes with Jessamine Fraser Architect + student Juan Blas Pedeira

Six SNUG Finalists

SNUG Overview:

In 2015 PrefabNZ, the heart of innovative construction in New Zealand, launched a design competition for an open-source universal bathroom pod, the UNIpod. Now in 2018 we bring you the next round, the SNUG – A Home In My Backyard.

The need for a range of SNUG solutions is backed up by a recent report under the National Science Challenge 11, Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities (BBHTC). This report has identified that New Zealand has potential for 180,000 additional dwellings created through partitioning by refurbishing existing homes and other forms of additional newly-built Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).

To add fuel to the fire for the urgency of creating more solutions, we can see that Multi-Generational Housing (MGH) is a growing trend worldwide:

  • 57 million Americans (18.1% of the United States population) lived in MGHs in 2012 (Fry & Passel, 2014)
  • 4.3 million Australians (19% of the population) lived in MGHs in 2011 (Liu and Easthope, 2012)
  • In NZ since 2001, the number of people living in extended family households has increased by 57 percent to 496,383 people (11% of pop) in 2013.

(Source: BRANZ report Meeting the housing needs of multi-generational households)

Please see Competition Outline and Judging Brief here

SNUG Dates:

15 November = People's Choice winner announced. The winners of Resene and Mitre 10 gift cards will be announced shortly. Thanks to all who took part in the voting!

  • The winner of People's Choice will be announced on 15 November 2018
  • SNUG Home finalists and winners will be awarded on 15 November 2018

15 November = All twelve finalist teams revealed

November = catalogue publication

SNUG Judging Panel Announced

PrefabNZ and the SNUG Partners are proud to announce the Judging Panel for SNUG!


Trevor Wilson of ARCreate – Representing ADNZ

Since graduating from Auckland School of Architecture in 1998 I have primarily worked as solepractitioner on renovation and new residential projects. Arcreate was formed in 2015 and we have a team of 4 based in Orewa. As a member of Architectural Designers New Zealand since 2012 I have been a regular participant in the ADNZ awards program, and also had organisational involvement on the regional executive and as a new member assessor.

I guess like many designers and architects I have always had a fascination for the design and potential of small spaces. Recently I designed and DIY built a small off grid holiday cabin for our family at Mangawhai which I thoroughly enjoyed. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the teams come up with in the SNUG competition.

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Adam Wakeford - Lifetime Design Ltd – Representing Lifemark

Following an altercation with a swimming pool 17 years ago, I have been (literally) rolling through life and gaining first-hand experience as to what Universal Design means, especially within our Built Environment. With a background as qualified builder (and the North Islands’s third best apprentice in the year of 2000…) and Architectural Designer, I have developed a passion for great design which eliminates barriers and enables people of all abilities to live their lives as independently as possible.

For over six years I have been lucky enough to work with the Lifemark team as their lead Accessibility Consultant. During this period, I have contributed to the development of the Lifemark Standards, Certification processes, and worked with a huge array of designers and architects to future proof countless residential and commercial developments.

I’ll happily retire from this role when I know my girlfriends Grandmother and I can easily roll into any home or business within NZ.

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Jock Hyde – Representing Auckland Council

My greatest achievements can only ever be to have improved the world in some way for the better, by not repeating the mistakes of the past and striving constantly to be the best I can be, to be honest, authentic and adapt to and create change for the better wherever I am.

Born in Scotland, but New Zealand has become my home for my kiwi wife and I for over 30 years where our greatest accomplishment has been to raise a wonderful daughter called Laura.

At Auckland Council where I work now my role as the principal specialist building surveyor, is as much about building and healing relationships as it is about making high level technical decisions on buildings that can be as varied as a simple residential family home or a complex high rise.

Getting to where I am now has involved many people, and been the result of a complex but extremely rewarding variety of experiences.

Raised by hard working parents and grandparents who taught me valuable lessons, many of which I would only understand later.

From a father and his parents who struggled to survive WWII interred in concentration camps, but who taught me the values of just being lucky enough to be alive, how determination and hard work could pay off and how to look at life in context.

A mother who worked tirelessly as a nurse, with passion and empathy that helped shape those things in me.

A maternal grandfather who taught me that if you're going to do anything in life you better try to do it right the first time.

I started out as an actor and singer, heading to London to train at RADA and, then went to another college to train as an Osteopath!

I've since worked in the world’s best hotels and then trained and qualified as a builder.

In building control for over a decade trying to help move the industry forward, working hard to stay authentic, riding my Aprilia superbike and enjoying life with a wonderful wife who has taught me the value of that authenticity.


Rob Tierney – Representing Holmes Farsight

Rob is often referred to as the ‘Compliance Jedi’

Rob is the founder of Holmes Farsight, who have established themselves as the industry’s leader in regulatory compliance guidance. Holmes Farsight’s mission statement is ‘compliance simplified’.

Holmes Farsight has successfully provided guidance and solutions to numerous major projects nationally and continue to successfully assist many Local Authority Building Consent Authorities in achieving high standards and maintaining BCA accreditation. Their expert advice is also regularly provided to MBIE, assisting in the Licensed Building Professional (LBP) complaint services, Determinations and Building Policy.

Rob has been in the construction industry for over 29 years. His first 10 years were spent as a carpenter, before he studied part time obtaining an Honours Degree in Construction. This led him into the start of his ongoing career in Building Control Surveying. He came to NZ in 2003 and led the successful Commercial Building Consent team at Wellington City Council from 2003 – 2011.

Rob believes in giving back to the profession and tutors part time at Victoria University Wellington. He has been the National technical chair of the Building Official Institute (BOINZ) NZ since 2012. He was also elected to the BOINZ Board in 2015.

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Aaron Paterson – Paterson Architecture Collective – Representing NZIA

From community buildings, houses, hospitality and commercial spaces and even the Giraffe House at The Auckland Zoo, Aaron Paterson has designed an extensive and diverse range of buildings. In the field of residential architecture, both multi-unit housing and single dwellings, Aaron is widely recognised – as well as widely published and awarded – for his architectural insight and acumen. Aaron is a lecturer at The University of Auckland School of Architecture and Planning, where he teaches and researches architectural media and technology.


Joanne Duggan – Representing NZGBC

Joanne leads the direction of Marketing and Membership in her role at the NZGBC including the Green Star, Homestar® and NABERSNZ brands. She works alongside the senior leadership team to ensure NZGBC are influential in the building and property market.

As a passionate industry professional and advocate, Joanne has built a recognizable profile having worked for many iconic New Zealand brands in the building industry for 25 years. Her experience is incredibly diverse and includes product development, sales and marketing management, covering architectural and design specification to commercial and residential construction and property.

Her passion for the building industry goes hand in hand with her love and interest in sustainability. She first joined these two passions together by being on the design team of the original ‘NOW Home’ sustainable demonstration house in 2004. This continued with being on the board of the Ecolabelling Trust and past secretary and inaugural member of the Living Future Collaborative NZ. She holds a Dip. Arch. Tech from UNITEC and Cert. Marketing Management from MA.

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Helena Lidelow of Lindbacks – Representing PrefabNZ

Associate Professor, Lulea University of Technology, Sweden

Lindbacks, is Sweden’s leader in industrialised construction of apartment buildings. Helena believes that a “systems builder must manage technology, the building process, and the business situation simultaneously. The balance between the three is more important to master than optimising each of them separately.”

Helena holds a PhD from Lulea University of Technology, with the area in which she undertook her research being timber structures. Helena has been teaching part-time at Lulea as an Associate Professor since 2009.

SNUG Questions + Answers:

All your Q+A will be posted publicly here....

  • Questions on Student team members and definition of a student (Received 14/3/18)
    • All teams must include a currently enrolled student, intern or apprentice as a registered team member
    • This does not include Architectural Graduates.
    • It is the responsibility of teams to determine appropriate tasks/roles for student team members.
    • PrefabNZ will provide links connecting teams to keen students via academic liaisons.
    • Student PrefabNZ Members can be found on the PrefabNZ Member Directory

  • Question: For the prefabrication / offsite manufacturer is it ok if they only produce the main panel or wall system but do not necessarily have an assembly line? (Received 15/03/18)
    • The key thing here is that Auckland Council will need to be satisfied that an approved design can be built and installed repeatedly, to a consistent standard. If the manufacturer only makes a panel or system (and would not be involved in other trade work or installation), you may need to consider other elements in the “team” to demonstrate how this consistency will be achieved.
  • Question: We would like to register asap but at the moment none of us is a member of PrefabNZ. We are an Australian business, can we join or it is preferable for the member to be a company based in NZ? (Received 16/03/18)
    • You are welcome to join PrefabNZ as an international member!
    • In terms of your SNUG team, it is up to you to determine how you will manage partnerships between NZ and international collaborators.
  • Question: I am a Kiwi that visits home regularly, although I live abroad. The guidelines do not say anything about my eligibility (or otherwise). (Received 14/03/18)
    • International entries are eligible provided they meet the competition brief and team requirements. As above, it is up to each team to establish a workable arrangement for collaboration between members.
  • Question: Is it allowed in the rules of the competition for a company or companies being part of several submissions? (Received 11/03/18)
    • Yes, this is absolutely fine. Companies can be involved in multiple submissions. However we advise companies in this situation to keep the projects completely separate.
  • Question: Please confirm if I need to join Prefab NZ for the remainder of the membership year (April 1, 2017-March 31, 2018) at a pro-rated rate to enter or/and have a valid membership for 2018-2019. (Received 8/03/18)
    • Each team needs to include at least one current valid member of PrefabNZ at time of submission 31st July 2018
  • Question: I take it the competition designs would likely qualify for 'minor dwellings' on the back of large enough sections - is that right? Ie, work within planning rules as they are now.
    • That is correct. Currently the competition is based on Auckland Council’s Minor Dwelling rules.
  • Question: Is there a subcategory for 'non-consented' SNUGs ie, in between the 'tiny home camp' of no services required for the tiny house to be on-site, and the 'minor dwelling'?
    • No. SNUG dwellings should be designed to achieve building consent.
  • Question: Will there be sub-categories eg, energy efficient SNUGS?
    • No. We hope that all submissions consider energy efficiency to be important! There will be no sub-categories. Submissions will be assessed according to the Judging criteria listed in the competition brief.
  • Question: Will the winning designs (once drawn into plans) be available for free in the spirit of the public good?
    • That is up to individual teams to decide. All ownership of the designs remains with the teams.
  • Question: Are there any limits on the number of submissions/designs? Can I submit more than 1 entry?
    • No, you are welcome to submit multiple entries. Please let us know if you are planning on submitting multiple entries and we will assign each an anonymous identification number. Each design should be submitted separately.
  • Question: I am wondering if a PhD student will be considered as a student?
    • Yes absolutely.
  • Question: Is the finalist project funded by SNUG?
    • Finalists will be awarded cash prizes on the condition that they complete working drawings.
    • PrefabNZ will make every endeavour towards finalists being built for display, including helping to secure funding.
  • Question: Are prefab homes to anchor to base or can they be mobile too?
    • SNUGs must be anchored to a consented foundation, but can be transportable. Mobile (wheeled) structures would need to demonstrate how they will comply with the building code.
  • Question: What expenses/outlays required apart from design time ?
    • There is no requirement for anything other than design time for the initial competition submission.
    • Finalists will be awarded prize money on the condition that they complete working drawings for consenting purposes.
    • Models, prototypes, travel and any other expenses must be negotiated within teams and will not be funded by PrefabNZ or the SNUG competition.
  • Question: Do you have a contact that can be readily contacted for any queries?
    • All questions should be directed to
  • Question: Will you send us through more information about the competition, or does the pdf online contain everything?
    • All information will be shared via the website and by email to registered teams. The competition brief document is the main resource and any updates will be shared with all registered teams.
  • Question: Am I correct that for the competition stage and judging, only concept design is required, as 3x A3 sheets?
    • That is correct. Concepts should include materials, assembly techniques and address the judging criteria.
  • Question: Is it expected that this will include renders and construction methodology?
    • Yes please.
  • Question: Is the only compensation for working drawings a portion of the ‘cash prize’ of $10,000 which may be split among numerous finalists?
    • That is correct.
  • Question: Why is a building consent application being completed for a concept design, when details and site are unspecified? How are we supposed to complete this when it is missing vital information?
    • The working drawings for the SNUG structure should be detailed/specified, but you’re correct that the site will be unknown. The aim of this is to achieve a range of pre-consented structures that can be manufactured repeatedly and applied to a range of sites. Purchasers will still need to obtain site specific building consent, but the process will be streamlined by the structure being pre-consented.
  • Question: How are the designers compensated, are we meant to work for free? Would the designers receive royalties from the designs if built?
    • Copyright of entries remains with the entrant team. It is up to the team (including designers and manufacturers) to determine exactly how compensation (fees, royalties) will be arranged once SNUGs are in production. PrefabNZ will take no stake in any competition outputs.
  • Question: Is single storey design preferred?
    • That’s up to you, but we would encourage you to remember that your SNUG should be able to comply in as many different settings as possible. Have a look at the rules for Single House and Mixed Housing (Urban and Suburban) Zones in Auckland HERE
  • Question: Can we submit two designs?
    • Yes, please let us know if you intend to do this as each design will need to be submitted separately.
  • Question: Don't understand part of consent application submitted with submission. I thought only the finalists to complete building consent documentation?
    • That’s right, only the finalists will be assessed for building consent. This requirement was to ensure that all teams had at least considered how their design would address compliance issues. We appreciate that without a specific site some details will be impossible to provide.
  • Question: To what extent will the requirement be off-grid?
    • This is not a SNUG requirement. It is up to you.
  • Question: Do we need to provide final costings for the build?
    • No, not at competition stage, although we welcome consideration of this. Finalists who make it into the Pattern Book will be expected to provide indicative costings.
  • Question: Can we submit questions as to our method of construction and it's modular nature after the registration has closed?
    • Yes, that is fine.
  • Question: Are there any size or site criteria?
    • At this stage size is determined by Auckland Council Minor Dwelling definition, which dictates a maximum size of 65sqm.
    • There are no site criteria as the SNUG concept is for replicable structures that can be installed in a range of residential settings. It is up to you if you wish to address specific site conditions, for example contoured sections, difficult access etc.
  • Question: Is it expected that the concept design that is submitted for judging will include both renders and construction methodology?
    • Yes. We need to see that you have considered how your design will be built. Finalists will be required to complete full working drawings to be considered for building consent.
  • Question: How do we get in touch with manufacturers?
    • Check out the PrefabNZ directory HERE
    • We suggest that you consider the materials, processes and prefabrication techniques you wish to utilise and do a search of manufacturers based on these factors.
    • It is important to engage these partners early in the design process.
    • It is the responsibility for SNUG teams to establish and manage their own partnerships. PrefabNZ will endeavour to assist in this process where possible.

NEW Q&A UPDATED 21/06/18

  • Question: can registered teams submit multiple entries?
    • Yes, please email to request an additional ID Code for any additional entries.

  • Question: You mention additional ID codes for additional entries but what if our entry includes 4 different size floor plans based on the same concept? Do we need separate entries for this or should we just show the other floor plans at a smaller scale somewhere on our entry panels?
    • Four different sizes would be best left as one entry, it demonstrates the versatility of the system you are proposing and if selected to go through consent would be an interesting challenge for the council to consider. Perhaps consider whether you could get code mark on it as a system.
  • Question: We understand all information must be included solely on 3, A3 panels but may we use the ‘high-level description’ to complement our submitted information? IE will both documents be considered as part of the submission?
    • Yes, the high-level description will be considered, it will be provided to the judges to introduce each entry. Just be aware that it is limited to 2000 characters (about 400 words) and is meant to be an introduction, not a detailed explanation.
  • Question: Would you know if Auckland Unitary plan for these SNUG’s trigger resource consent applications?
    • Resource consent is dependant on the usual conditions, site coverage, height planes etc. Secondary dwellings do not automatically trigger resource consent, in Auckland mixed housing zones you can have up to three dwellings without resource consent.
  • Question: I understand that the plans/renders/spec etc is to take no more than three A3 pages, I just wanted to confirm that the Building consent application is in addition to the 3 main pages?
    • Please note that we have removed this requirement. Only the finalists selected for consent processing will be required to complete the
  • Question: I’ve been trawling through the Unitary Plan to try and get a concise definition and set of parameters for an Accessory Dwelling Unit.Do you have anything you can forward on?
  • Question: If we were to additionally partner with an Australian prefabricator, where the entire unit may be assembled/built in Australia utilising existing expertise, factories etc. and shipped back to NZ, would this be acceptable?
    • It’s acceptable to us as the organisers of the competition. The question then becomes how you demonstrate to the BCA’s that your SNUG complies with the building code.
  • Question: Is it too late to register for the SNUG competition?
    • Yes, far too late to register a team sorry.
  • Question: Can you please provide a guideline on the requirements for the "brief high-level description of your SNUG" ie. roughly how may words should this be?
    • The submission form limits it to 2000 characters, so about 400 words. This provides an overview of the concept (without revealing the team’s identity) to brief the judges.
    • Please note that should your design be selected as a finalist we will invite you to update your description for further promotion etc, including contact details etc.
  • Question: How do I add details of the extra SNUG team members who have joined us?

Please get in touch at any stage with your questions, comments or thoughts

SNUG Registrations: Please note that SNUG registrations have now closed. We will not be accepting late registrations.

Registered teams should submit SNUG entries no later than 11.59pm, Tuesday 31st July


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