Kāinga Ora plans to purchase thousands of prefabricated homes to address the country’s growing need for transitional housing, many of which will be built offshore and shipped over.
Kāinga Ora general manager of construction Patrick Dougherty said a main goal of the project was to boost New Zealand’s domestic off-site manufactured (OSM) capacity and capability.
However, in order to meet demand, many would be constructed abroad and shipped over as ready-built, weathertight one and two-bedroom homes.
“The demand for public housing has never been higher. There is a very real and urgent need to get families and children out of motels and other forms of emergency housing and into more secure homes where they can feel settled and able to move forward with their lives,” Dougherty said.
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“Innovative approaches are needed to deliver more quality homes, at a faster rate.”
“Off-site manufactured homes are an excellent option.”
Dougherty said the prefab homes were not the static caravan-like structures people might picture when thinking of mobile housing, and were indistinct from traditional builds.
The only difference was they were constructed indoors in a warehouse.
They could be completed on-site 40 per cent faster than traditional builds, he said, and the cost was described as “comparable” to traditional methods, according to documents obtained under the Official Information Act.
The OSM homes would fulfil Healthy Homes standards and the Green Building Council’s 6 Homestar rating, Dougherty said.
Documents relating to the project released to Stuff under the Official Information Act had large sections redacted, including figures for the number of OSM homes it intended to order, the amount it would spend on them, and all land acquisitions it was making to place them on.
The social housing provider said this was to avoid prejudicing any ongoing commercial negotiations.
Dougherty told Stuff the numbers of OSM homes Kāinga Ora was looking to buy were in the thousands, not the hundreds, but said he couldn’t be more specific.
At the same time, Kāinga Ora was seeking to encourage other domestic OSM capabilities, such as the delivery of prefabricated timber frames and bathroom pods that could be installed as ready-made amenities.
Dougherty would not say where the overseas builders were located, only that they were in Europe and Asia, and that negotiations were under way with a couple of suppliers. There were undergoing an ethical practices assessment.
The fully built homes would be transported on container ships, delivered to site on trucks, and were ready to be lived in once they were placed on foundations at their site.
A timeline included in one document, which tracked land supply, showed the first two batches of OSM builds would be completed and shipped by the end of May 2022.
The OSM homes were deemed to have a 50-year lifespan, according to documents. Dougherty said this was a minimum figure, and they hoped with maintenance the builds would last 70 to 100 years.
He said around 15 per cent of public homes currently under construction or in design utilised OSM and Kāinga Ora planned to increase this by 20 per cent.
Previous experiments in this area by Kāinga Ora included the three-level walk-up on Busby St in Auckland’s Blockhouse Bay, which contained 18 two-bedroom apartments.
The build used off-site built timber frame panels and factory-made bathroom and laundry pods.
A programme update document suggested land remained the biggest risk to the project, and efforts were being made to secure additional land.
This included negotiations to use Māori-owned land, making new acquisitions and find new leasing opportunities. Because the homes could be moved, they could be placed on sites for shorter periods of time than traditional builds.
Dougherty said most of the OSM homes would be placed on brownfield land, so the reduced disruption to neighbours was another bonus.
The programme’s priority, according to the document, was to create transitional housing in the regions, as delivery in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch was already meeting targets.
A summary of land acquisitions in the pipeline at July 7 included sites from Northland down to Invercargill, including all the main centres and places including Flaxmere, Hastings, Paraparaumu, Greymouth, and Whanganui. The size and exact locations of these acquisitions were redacted.