SNUG Design Competition

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

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 FirstLightStudio and a prototype was built by Stanley Group together with a range of sponsorship partners - thank you! 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 a growing number of 1-2 person households. 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-utlitised 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

       First Light Studio with Panelwood + Victoria University student Brittany Irvine

       Portabuild with Shepherd & Rout Architects + student Charlie Devine

       Litegreen with Barry Connor Architect + student Mathew Grayling

       Aonui Architects with Red Stag + student Jennifer Koat

       Catalyst Homes with Jessamine Fraser Architect + student Juan Blas Pedeira

       QuikFab with Alessandro Quadrelli Architect + student Kerryn Elliot

Six SNUG Finalists

       Pacific Environments with Tallwood + student Emily Pearce

       EasyBuild + student Ged Finch

       Makers of Architecture + student Glen Stricot-Tarbotan

       Studio Pacific Architecture with LT McGuiness + student Oliver Shand

       Sanctum Architecture with Potius + student Caitlin Palmer

       Pourakino with NZ SIPs + student Olive Sly

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 population) in 2013.

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

Please see Competition Outline and Judging Brief here.

SNUG Dates

  • 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

Frequently asked questions

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 a student team member. - PrefabNZ will provide links connecting teams to keen students via academic liaisons.




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 15/3/18)


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 installtion), you may need to consdier other elements in the "team" to demonstrate how this consistency will be achieved.




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 is it preferable for the member to be a company based in NZ? (received 16/3/18)


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.




I ama Kiwi that visits home regularly, although I live abroad. The guidelines do not say anything about my eligibility (or otherwise). (received 14/3/18)


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 collboration between members.




Is it allowed in the rules of the competition for a companyor companies being part of several submissions? (received 11/3/18)


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.




Please confirm if I need to join PrefabNZ 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 8/3/18)


Each team needs to include at least one current, valid member of PrefabNZ at time of submission 31 July 2018.




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.




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 shoul dbe designed to achieve building consent.




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.




Will the winning designs (once drawn into plans) be available for free in the spirit of the public good?


That is up to the individual teams to decide. All ownership of the designs remains with the teams.




Are there any limits on the number of sumbissions/designs? Can I submit more than 1 entry?


You are welcome to submit multiple entires. 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 sumbitted separately.




I am wondering if a PhD student will be consdiered as a student?


Yes, absolutely.




Is the finalist project funded by SNUG?


Finaliss 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.




Are prefab homes to anchor to base or can they be mobile too?


SNUGs must be anchored to a consented foundation, but can be tranportable. Mobile (wheeled) structures would need to demonstrate how they will comply with the building code.




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 other expenses must be negotiated within teams and will not be funded by PrefabNZ or the SNUG competition.




Will you send us through more information about the competition, or does the pdf online contain everything?


All information will be shared via the PrefabNZ.com/projects website and by email to registered teams. The competition brief docuement is the main resource and anyupdates will be shared with all registered teams.




Am I correct that for the competition stage and judging, only concept design is required, as 3xA3 sheets?


That is correct. Concepts should include materials, assembly techniques and address the judging criteria.




Is it expected that this willinclude renders and construction methodology?


Yes please.




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.




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 details/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.




How are the designers compensated, are we meant to work for free? Woudl 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.




Is single storey design preferred?


That is up to you, but we woud encourage you to remember that your SNUG should be able to comply in as many different settings as possible.




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.




To what extent will the requirement be off-grid?


This is not a SNUG requirement. It is up to you.




Do we need to provide final costings for the build?


No, not at competition stage, although we welcoe consideration of this. Finalists who make it into the Pattern Book will be expected to provide indicative costings.




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 65m2. 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.




How do we get in touch with manufacturers?


Check out the PrefabNZ Directory! 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.