"Go Pre-Fab Housing. Old way is a rip off."

I have built three decks in my life. Each time I assisted the builder; I was the free labour.

Each time the builder got the material on his ‘trade’ account and passed on the 25% saving directly to me. But usually builders pocket the mark-up – no wonder it’s so expensive to build in NZ.

If these big companies like Placemakers can sell this material for 25% cheaper to builders, why can’t they pass on these savings to ordinary Kiwis? It’s so wrong. Ask your builder for the same deal he gets! Just try it.

The Government’s Productivity Commission report shows construction costs increased by 30% in the 9 years to 2011. The same report also showed it costs 25% more to build a house in Auckland than it would to build the same house in Melbourne. We need more competition, we need more suppliers and we need to find a new way to do things. No wonder the Commission said "home ownership is now beyond the reach of increasing numbers of New Zealanders."

So what’s the answer? Many and varied. We need land freed up on a mass scale. And we need more companies building more houses. Just four companies in NZ build 100 houses or more houses a year. We need scale. So Labour has come up with this idea to sell affordable pre-fabricated homes.

The truth is 50,000 houses need to be built in Auckland and Canterbury over the next five years. That’s a huge number – almost unprecedented in NZ’s history. Auckland will need to build around 9,300 houses a year to meet the demands of internal and external migration – that’s a 53% increase on the current building rate, according to the experts. We have to try something different – we actually have to try something radical. The current building industry with its present structure and traditional methods of construction can’t meet the demand.

So what about pre-fab houses like this? – Where so much of the work is done in the factory. What about this new approach? New research out today shows pre-fab houses can remove $32k from the standard house construction cost – a home of about 150m2. If materials are bought in bulk the savings come to $47k on an average house. That’s a 20% saving. Maybe more. It’s also a faster way to build – figure show these houses can be constructed in half the time.

Now if the Government and Council can free up land for these mass pre-fab developments, then Kiwis might once again be able to enjoy the Kiwi dream: a decent house.

The status quo has been failing us for a number of years. We don’t have any more time to sit around and talk about this new way forward, this is it: it’s time to start building folks.

Link to this story on the Radio Live website here