No parking outside your house? No problem

A couple who live on a busy, central Auckland street have come up with a brilliant solution to parking woes - by installing a car stacker in what was once the front room of their Ponsonby villa.

Jonathan Smith and his wife have lived in their Brown St home for about 10 years and own two cars, but up until two months ago they didn't have a garage.

The availability of parking on the street was "atrocious", Smith said, and seemed to be getting even worse.

While the handy central location of the house made it easy for Smith and his wife to walk or bus to work, when their first child was born their priorities changed a bit.

"When we had our son about four years ago we realised that it's not very nice to have a little bubba in the rain or anything and I think that was the catalyst to really go and invest and do something about that."

Building a typical garage would have been a challenge because the home's heritage status. Heritage buildings in the area are protected by the council.

"For us it's all about maximising the space within the house and not destroying the character of the house while we did that," said Smith, who works as an architect.

"We didn't want it to look like a garage door. We wanted it to look exactly like it was before we actually did anything."

And so the couple came up with a unique idea - they would modify the villa wall of their front room so that it opened out horizontally, construct a driveway, and install a car-stacking machine which would allow them to store their cars on top of each other.

"We wanted to make sure the streetscape and character remained and the stacker was really useful to do that. Rather than a massive centimetre-wide door we can just get a garage door that looks like an ordinary villa wall."

Smith bought the Wohr-branded car stacker from a New Zealand company that imports the devices from Germany for $18,000. It measures 5.5m long by 2.8m and can hold almost any car.

"It's got a tray that you drive on to and that puts the first car up and the second car can drive underneath that tray," he told the Weekend Herald.

In his career as an architect Smith said he had noticed that internationally people were valuing space inside their homes more, which could lead to more people using car stackers if manufacturers met buyers' pricing expectations.

The family's car stacker had piqued the interest of many, with passerbys often stopping to look at it through the window.

Smith said other Kiwis who wanted to buy a car stacker need to make sure they researched the technology and supplier before they purchased one, but "other than that it's a great idea".

"In New Zealand we tend to have the largest spaces in the houses as our garages and they're not really used for anything.

"So comparison-wise they're probably the most expensive rooms in the whole house, so if we can reduce the space we use to house cars as much as possible I think it would be a really beneficial thing for everybody."