Affordable home ideas flow at Auckland Conversations

Last Updated : 03 Dec 2015
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Innovative ways to make housing more affordable were put forward by experts to an eager Auckland Conversations gathering on 1 December.

With Auckland house prices escalating beyond the reach of many, to more than nine times the median household income instead of a recommended three times, solutions to turn the tide have seemed few and far between.

Key points the speakers agreed on: 

  • more builders of scale
  • better use of land for compact developments
  • smaller standalone homes
  • wider range of housing types
  • prefabricated building methods to speed construction and reduce cost
  • excellent design and quality
  • greater developer involvement in shared-equity schemes for first home buyers
  • community-led property development cooperatives. 

Peter Freeman, of Christchurch-based Mike Greer Homes Ltd, New Zealand’s largest private home builder, said the firm's proposed Auckland factory, using German prefabrication methods, would be able to build 1800 homes a year.

While the technology produced standardised homes, they didn’t all look alike and could be ready for occupancy in 10 weeks instead the average 28 weeks.

Helen O’Sullivan, chief executive of Ockham Residential, introduced the concept of the apartment building with no car parking spaces, except for two electric cars for tenants’ use and spaces for scooter parking.

The company is currently marketing the Mount Eden apartments, known as “Daisy”, which will have a nine Homestar (green building) rating. A 10-year interest-free loan of 15 per cent of the purchase price is available for one third of the 33 apartments.

DIY approach

A more do-it-yourself approach to home ownership was described by Christchurch economist Geoff Butcher who created a property development cooperative for people to band together to buy a large section, making a 20 to 30 per cent cost saving. A 10-home project is underway.

He cautioned such cooperatives worked better if people intended to live in the homes themselves and not just use them for investment purposes.

Rangimarie Hunia, director, Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei Whai Rawa, the commercial entity for the hapu, explained the affordable home ownership partnership for whanau which was completing 30 medium density homes in Ōrākei, mostly for first-home buyers.

Auckland Conversations is a series of national and international keynote speaker events, run by Auckland Council, that cover discussions including transport, infrastructure, urban design, public art and much more.

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