Affordable Housing Stymied By Red Tape; Collaborative Approach Required
NEWS RELEASE I 27 October 2015
Matrix Homes, the Trentham based company building quality affordable homes in the old General Motors factory, claims red tape and a lack of cooperation between local and central government is contributing to the housing crisis.
Matrix Homes’ managing director Sean Murrie said, “The real reasons for the housing crisis are insufficient land zoned for housing and Council caution in the wake of the leaky building debacle. Companies like ours have proven it’s possible to build quality homes in New Zealand at a much lower price than has traditionally been the case. However, despite the Government’s recent endeavours, Council procedures and paperwork add time and expense that prevents families moving into homes.”
Sean Murrie says that although the Government has tried to address the problem by freeing up Crown-owned land for housing, changing the Resource Management Act to make resource consents easier to obtain, creating Special Housing Areas (SHA) and introducing MultiProof Consents for standardised building designs that are intended to be built several times, the problem remains. “Even if the land is a designated SHA, Councils can still refuse building consents if they think the area’s infrastructure (water, sewerage and roads) might become overloaded and the Council is reluctant to invest in such infrastructure. Other problems include Councils each having different rules in terms of the amount of outdoor area required, the percentage of the section you can build on, different requirements for off-street parking and so on.”
A major obstacle according to Murrie is the legacy of the leaky homes debacle. “Councils understandably want to avoid further liability claims for leaky or structurally unsound houses and while developers are legally bound to fix defects that occur within 10 years, they regularly collapse their companies upon completion of the project leaving the Council the ‘last man standing’.” Sean Murrie says the solution to this problem is to require builders and developers to take out insurance covering the structural integrity of the houses they build.
Matrix Homes offers buyers a 10 year warranty which covers any structural problem that may arise. Compulsory insurance for developers would also focus the industry on quality and limit Council’s exposure.
“All the obstacles we’ve encountered over the past year could be overcome if Councils and the Government worked together to get more land zoned for housing and applied a common-sense approach to protect the property owner. “While SHAs are a real advance, Councils currently have to carry the resulting infrastructure costs alone. Central Government needs to help Councils fund this additional infrastructure and, in return, Councils and Government develop a regulatory approach that is consistent across the country.”
Matrix Homes says that if we are serious about addressing the housing crisis, a joint approach between the industry, the Government and territorial local authorities is required. “We’ve shown that we can build a high-quality three bedroom home right here in New Zealand for as little as $120,000. The only thing that’s slowing that process down is the current administrative and regulatory environment.
With enough energy, imagination and goodwill we can solve New Zealand’s housing problem and bring back the dream of home ownership for families who are currently shut out,” Sean Murrie said.