Are EasyBuild’s modular homes the future of housing in New Zealand?

EasyBuild modular home

A version of this article was originally published on newshub.co.nz.

Anyone who has seen Grand Designs knows that building a new home from scratch can be an expensive and time-consuming process. With so many variables, a lifelong dream can become a stressful, drawn-out experience.

But EasyBuild, a 100% New Zealand-owned and operated modular home builder, is here to prove that it doesn’t have to be that way.

The company builds standalone and multi-unit homes modular that can be constructed in half the time of a traditional build and at a lower cost, making it easier than ever for Kiwis to get into a quality, brand new home, or complete housing development and investment projects faster.

EasyBuild modular home

With more than 25 different designs to choose from, the company can pump out three houses a week from its factory in Upper Hutt. The components are then flat packed, put in a shipping container and sent to sites around the country, where their teams of trained, expert builders complete the homes on site.

EasyBuild Co-founder and Director Mike Fox describes the homes as being “the Ikea of the building industry” and says modular housing has the potential to play a major role in easing New Zealand’s housing crisis, especially given recent RMA changes and council regulations now allowing for greater housing density in urban areas.

“They can be built twice as fast as a conventional home, and they’re energy-efficient and affordable,” he says.

Fox says modular housing offers a much-needed alternative to our traditional way of construction, which focuses on building bespoke homes on site. “We need to be able to give the consumer a choice,” he says.

“You can buy a good-value house that is pre-consented and pre-designed. You can make some tweaks to it, you can get it quickly and you can save a bunch of money and time. Or you go for the traditional method where you wait a long time to get your house, you pay a lot more and it’s put together piecemeal on site.”

“The reason that we can do things affordably and quickly is because we are doing lots of the same thing. We use the same methodology all the time, which enables us to get economies of scale – and that is where the traditional industry falls down. We’re able to produce a high-quality product, in a highly efficient way, that doesn’t cost the earth.”

Fox says the construction method the company uses is similar to what exists in Scandinavia but has been adapted for local conditions and “turned into a New Zealand system”. Fox also points out they differ from other kit-set houses, where essentially you are just sold a “big pile of materials and you put it together”.

“We’ve prefabricated them to a high level in our factory, so that when the walls come out they have the windows and insulation pre- installed, and everything’s already pre-cut and ready to be assembled by our teams on-site.”

Another difference between EasyBuild and many other transportable home or prefabricated home providers, is that because the structure is put together on site and only a deposit paid in advance of the materials arriving on site, typically standard construction lending is available from financial institutions.

Modular housing also has environmental benefits, with total build waste reduced by up to two-thirds of that of a conventional build.

Once on site, a trained team will generally have the homes watertight within seven to ten days, with the construction period taking around 12-14 weeks in total. All house designs also have MultiProof approval from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, making the consenting process much quicker and easier than that of a conventional build, with Fox estimating it normally takes half the time to cut through the red tape and gain consent.

EasyBuild exterior

And because the houses range in size from one-bedroom, 38-square-metre homes to four-bedroom 176-square-metre homes, and there are standalone, duplex and multi-unit options, EasyBuild’s modular homes are suitable for all types of people and styles of living.

Fox says they are particularly popular with existing homeowners looking to unlock more value from their land by subdividing their property or building a minor dwelling to rent out to tenants or tourists. They’re also popular with clients who have multigenerational living requirements, and for larger scale development projects in medium density housing areas.

And while he is aware modular housing may not appeal to people who want a unique, bespoke house, Fox firmly believes that by giving people more choice as to what sort of home they can build, the concept can play a role in getting more Kiwis into warm, affordable housing sooner.

“We’re not all things to all people. We are about providing really robust, high-quality, energy-efficient, affordable homes that can be built quickly and will stand the test of time.”

Head to your local EasyBuild Show Home to discover the comfort and quality of an EasyBuild home for yourself, or contact your local EasyBuild team to start making your new home dreams a reality. 

Talk to your local EasyBuild team today 

The EasyBuild Way

An EasyBuild home under construction

In a world where innovation and convenience go hand-in-hand, EasyBuild Homes’ modular homes are the future of housing in Aotearoa, and are available nationwide.

Getting Kiwis into quality, cost-effective homes, fast, is EasyBuild’s goal, and with our unique modular construction method, we can truly deliver on this promise.

Manufactured with a high-level of prefabrication in our Upper Hutt factory, EasyBuild’s partially constructed homes are delivered to site in a shipping container and completed on site. Completing the homes on site means that if you can walk there, we can build there – essentially we go where no transportable home can! Plus with our network of experienced EasyBuild teams across the country, you can trust that you’re in good hands.

An EasyBuild home under construction

EasyBuild’s unique modular construction method is based on a portal and panel system. Once the portal frame is in place, pre-finished panels with pre-installed windows and insulation are fixed between the portals, followed by ceiling sheets.
Our homes are enclosed and protected from the elements within as little as two weeks on site. If you’re familiar with construction in New Zealand, you’ll know this is a real feat!

Work then continues on both the inside and outside of the house concurrently, and the entire EasyBuild home can be completed in as little as 12 weeks, while our customers can rest assured that there’s no compromise on quality.

EasyBuild’s overall process is designed with speed and efficiency in mind, including MBIE MultiProof approval on all of our designs, which means building consent can be granted up to twice as fast. Gone are the days of lengthy construction projects and endless delays.

And what about the end result? Light-filled, quality, affordable homes in a range of family friendly designs, with raised ceilings, exposed rafters and unmatched energy efficiency, that are built for New Zealand’s unique conditions and designed to stand the test of time.

Talk to your local EasyBuild team today to get started on your new home journey with EasyBuild, or visit your local show home to experience the quality and comfort of an EasyBuild home for yourself.

Q&A: Putting the ‘Easy’ into building

Mike Fox and Scott Matthews, EasyBuild Factory
Mike Fox and Scott Matthews, EasyBuild Factory
Mike Fox (Director) and Scott Matthews (CEO) of EasyBuild Homes.

This article was originally published on NZBusiness.co.nz.

EasyBuild is a Hutt Valley business helping transform New Zealand’s residential building industry. NZBusiness sat down with CEO Scott Matthews to determine their competitive advantage.

 

NZB: Why does it make sense to buy a modular house?

Scott: Most of us dream of home ownership, in fact most people would argue that it’s a human right. We have all been raised in an environment where you commonly design your own home, and every home is different. The building industry advertise this all the time, but then customers wonder why the house is often poorly insulated, expensive and requires lots of heating.

This is very different to many parts of the world where people by a house off plan and it is one of perhaps 30 in the same location that looks similar. I often make the analogy that if you want a good, reliable and fairly priced car, you would buy a Toyota Corolla. However if you want something different you would drive a custom build or a Ferrari. 

Looking at a modular home vs. a custom designed home, the pricing difference is similar, but you’ll get better bang for your buck with a modular home in terms of build time, thermal efficiency, environmental friendliness, and other benefits, when compared to a standard construction house of the same price.

Modular homes are normally quick to build, well insulated and built, minimise waste and are normally priced the same as a similar sized home, but superior quality.

NZB: Where did the concept come from for your company?

Scott: The concept is relatively old, with the original inventor using this method some 30 years ago. However, the designs were brought up to date and the business was launched in its own right five years ago. We have a simple but enduring purpose. We want to provide Kiwis with warm, robust, and affordable housing because we believe everyone should enjoy living in their own EasyBuild home.

NZB: Tell us a bit more about your point of difference?

Scott: We’re a local business building affordable, quality, robust, and warm homes nationwide. We build quickly and efficiently whilst reducing waste and trying to source materials locally wherever possible. We also create opportunities to train and support those returning to work and looking to engage in the workforce. Available nationwide, we now have 10 licensee locations building houses in their local communities across the North Island from Northland to Wellington and are looking to expand into the South Island.

NZB: Describe your manufacturing process?

Scott: Essentially the skeleton of the house is produced as component pieces in a factory, so every piece required for the shell of the house is cut, marked, drilled and prepared for quick assembly on site.

All the external walls are constructed as super insulated panels, containing insulation suitable for any climate, conduits for power, a waterproof shell, and finally, the windows, rebates and window architraves are fitted before the house is sent to site in a shipping container.

NZB: How did covid and the pandemic impact your business’s progress?

Scott: The last 12 months have been interesting. Yes, we have faced challenges with the businesses – namely the hyperinflation and material shortages in the New Zealand market. However, despite the many challenges our business is growing.

We have also taken on more staff and now have 17 staff (11 in the factory and 6 in the office). Our commitment is to hire local where possible, and we recently committed to take on a student next year via the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce Employment to Education programme.

We have also earned our stripes with social housing projects – a strategic move for us to diversify and future proof the business, developing social housing models, whilst still providing homes for families.

We have gained a solid reputation for building affordable, warm, and quick housing by social housing providers and iwi. Our projects over the next 12 months include working with Kainga Ora, Trust House and Wesleyan Community Action Group

In terms of materials, we have a good relationship with our merchants and a direct relationship with our local producers, particularly Kiwi Lumber and Juken. 

NZB: A major housing development dedicated to first home buyers is about to get underway, can you give us an update on where things are at in terms of the build?

Scott: We feel very privileged as a business to be working with Koru Kāinga and our own values align with the objectives of this development; to bring affordable, quality housing to local families and first home buyers.

We have worked with Koru Homes NZ founder Adrian Chooi to design 51 three-bedroom homes in Wainuiomata, Lower Hutt and provided a team of experts or a “dream team” to support the planning and resource consent application.  Developments of this nature don’t just happen, and we have really enjoyed supporting this development. We are proud to be part of New Zealand’s first private development dedicated to getting first home buyers on the property ladder.

All going well we hope to commence building in early February 2023 and the build will be phased with 51 units built over the next 18 months. 

NZB: How has being based in Upper Hutt benefitted your business?

Scott: We have been really pleased with the ongoing support provided by the Upper Hutt City Council and the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce. The council recently invited us to a job fair in which we received a few leads for potential workers. In fact, we have had no issues employing people in the area. Geographically we are in an ideal spot for operating our business – close to State Highway 1 and 2; close to our suppliers and licensees as well as all the projects we have lined up locally.  We know good commercial space is hard to come by, so we are grateful to be operating out of 880sqm of floor space and 400sqm of yard space.

Our work with social development housing providers is also benefiting the local economy. As we are in a commercial zone, we can operate 24 hours a day (subject to observing noise limits) which effectively means we have the opportunity to run a shift-based system across 7 days, expand and take on more local staff as we continue to grow.

NZB: What are the future plans for the business and where are you experiencing growth?

Scott: We are experiencing growth in not just social housing but from families seeking modular housing built on their own sections – from mum and dad’s wanting to build a smaller house for their children who can’t get on the housing ladder; to retirees wanting something smaller and easier to maintain and so on. Our houses range from 38sqm to 176sqm so we cater for all needs. The recent changes to the Building Act/RMA allows many people to build value by adding an additional dwelling on their existing section.