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New Zealand’s Affordable Housing Crisis – why is it so hard to produce low cost homes?

In EasyBuild founding Director Mike Fox’s July Building Today column, he discusses New Zealand’s affordable housing crisis – and why it’s so hard to produce low cost homes.

Mike’s article elaborates:

“It is one of the biggest problems our country faces — we cannot produce the affordable housing that’s so desperately needed.

But we can produce an overabundance of expensive homes. So why the massive disconnect between demand and supply?

Without political ownership and a major overhaul of the current regulatory processes, affordable housing will never be delivered. New Zealand’s journey to housing unaffordability has been 30-plus years in the making.

Over the past four decades, I’ve built hundreds of homes, and have watched the market progressively tilt towards larger homes on smaller, very expensive lots, with building time frames stretching out and productivity plummeting.

Unfortunately, this is what our current system and market dictates, but it is woefully under-delivering on what we need to house everyone, especially in the dawning era where affordability will be paramount.”

After our Government’s Kiwibuild solution failed, they soon realised too that the delivery system in NZ is broken, full of delays, hurdles, costs and skewed towards high cost land and therefore high cost homes.

Mike continues, “We have been building a disproportionate oversupply of expensive larger homes, with the greatest area of demand being affordable homes, hardly catered for.

This needs to change, and quickly. However, if we continue to follow the same regulatory processes, how can we expect a different outcome? It just won’t happen.

If we want affordable housing, we need to produce affordable land free of inflationary minimum size and design-restrictive covenants.

In reality, these covenants are put in place by developers to raise the price of subsequent section releases. They cut out a large portion of buyers who might be wanting a smaller, more efficient home.”

At the end of the day, to solve this crisis, we need a different approach, says Mike, “The solution is relatively clear — we need fewer rules and political fortitude, as local authorities will need to be curbed and, in some cases, overruled — and not just for Government projects.

If they asked me, I would remove all smaller residential projects from the Resource Management Act as it is no longer fit for purpose, and the planning process too subjective. The process often gets highjacked by neighbours, anti-commercial practices, personal agendas and nimbism.

More standardisation of design and modular building needs to be increased, and the consumer conditioned to not expect a bespoke home if they want affordability and value.

Building companies create the expectation that you can have your home any way you want. However, if the consumer realised that building bespoke added at least 25% to the cost of their home, they may view things very differently.

This is even more important now where people will be cutting their cloth accordingly, and looking for homes within their means that deliver efficiency on all fronts.

The social and health costs from not getting more affordable housing into the market far outweigh the cost of providing good housing. All these people forced to live in motels, cars and caravans need a stable, warm place to call home.”

Check out Mike’s full article on

EasyBuild have the perfect solution to help New Zealand’s affordable housing crisis, and we’re committed to providing high quality, excellent value for money homes for Kiwis, around the country. Talk to us today about how EasyBuild can help you.

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