Auckland housing for one million more

March 26, 2018

Following on from Michael James’ recent Industry Transformation Agenda (ITA) story about approaching a better built New Zealand, Wendy James writes following the attendance of a number of the Origin Fire team at an Engineering New Zealand presentation where Homes, Land and Community (HLC) chief executive, Chris Aiken, was guest speaker on Auckland housing.

HLC is strongly focused on transforming the way we do things. They are working collaboratively with all sectors of the building industry to provide volume and affordability for the Auckland housing market. Chris Aiken’s presentation focused on what is happening on the old airbase site at Hobsonville.

Currently there is a shortage of housing that first time home buyers can afford in Auckland. Chris Aiken noted that currently a sale price of $550,000 is considered affordable in Auckland and most first time buyers are unable to enter the market at this price point. He suggested $400,000 to $450,000  was a much more realistic entry point. “It is the first time in New Zealand’s history that we are not building for the largest cohort of people wanting to buy their own home,” Chris said. “First home buyers are on average incomes of $65,000 to $75,000 and they cannot afford to purchase a home.”

Chris described a cost crisis in the building industry and asked ‘how can we start controlling costs when they appear to be increasing by the day?’ He further asked us to identify a compelling reason to change a system which is not sustainable into the future. “If we don’t change the way we do things and embrace innovative ways of building we will not be able to achieve the goal of getting ordinary Kiwis into their own homes.

At Hobsonville Point, HLC is working to three key guiding principles. Standardise. Simplify. Modularise. Across all the homes they are building HLC keep costs down by standardising stairwells, kitchens and bathrooms regardless of whether they are two, three or four bedroom dwellings. And, where the land once contained one state house, HLC are building three or more new dwellings. Volume and availability will help keep prices low and much more affordable.

At another HLC site tanks have been installed to catch rain water and lower mains water costs to these homes. Chris cited other technologies that might allow, for example, a complete water treatment system within a local area without even having to connect to the main sewage system. And he pointed to driverless cars that will enable us to share cars, reduce our need for garaging our own personal vehicles and cutting further costs off the price of a home.

Wanting to be a good ancestor to a project, and having a collaborative approach with all stakeholders to know what all the constraints were from the outset, were emphasised in the presentation. If all parties know the main driver is to provide truly affordable housing, specifically in the Auckland market, the three principles of simplifying, modularising and standardising are essential in accommodating one million more Aucklanders.

Wendy James, Origin Fire

Image Credit: HLC