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Cyclone fuels massive demand for Waikato company's prefab homes

Cameron Beverland. Image credit: MARK TAYLOR/WAIKATO TIMES
Cameron Beverland. Image credit: MARK TAYLOR/WAIKATO TIMES
Builtsmart general manager Cameron Beverland received an order on Thursday to deliver an additional 150 prefab homes in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne by June.

Cyclone fuels massive demand for Waikato company's prefab homes
Avina Vidyadharan / Stuff
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A Waikato company building prefab houses is already run off its feet with extra orders due to Cyclone Gabrielle.

Social and emergency housing demand has always been high for Kāinga Ora partner Builtsmart, but the Huntly-based company is now dealing with a “practically unachievable” challenge.

Builtsmart general manager Cameron Beverland received an order on Thursday to deliver an additional 150 prefab homes in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne by June.

“It is not practically achievable, but we will do everything to deliver as much and as fast as we can.

Thousands of people remain displaced after Gabrielle, with the Government grappling with how to house them.

“There has also been an increase in demand for 30sqm emergency accommodation units,” said Beverland. “We are going to look into putting some plan together for that and see if we can produce all of those.”

Builtsmart factory

The building design company is in the midst of starting construction of 29 homes next week, set to be delivered in Morrinsville, Cambridge, and Te Awamutu by early June. Image credit: MARK TAYLOR/WAIKATO TIMES


Contracted through Kāinga Ora, Builtsmart delivered 26 factory-built homes in Rotorua just after Christmas and another lot is scheduled for June delivery.

The building design company was in the midst of starting construction of 29 homes next week, set to be delivered in Morrinsville, Cambridge, and Te Awamutu by early June.

In addition to the existing projects in the pipeline, Beverland said Kainga Ora requested another 90 emergency homes to be delivered by June this year.

“We just can't physically produce that. We have taken on a portion of that and the challenge is to get some of them delivered as soon as possible.”

Builtsmart in Huntly has been given the first contract in Kāinga Ora's push to build more state and transitional houses using off-site manufacture.


“Classrooms for schools is another big part of our business, and I am expecting there will be fair bit of damage in the schools which will lead to an influx of demand for emergency classrooms. We will need to try and cater for.”

The increase in demand for emergency homes, positively coincided with the abundance of labour force.

“In some ways the slow-down in the residential market is pretty good, because we have a lot of builders and tradies looking for work, which we have been able to take on as extra crew in the factory... that’s positive.”

However, the next big worry for Beverland was the impact of forestry slash on the supply chain.

An increase in demand for emergency homes has coincided with more builders and tradies looking for work. Image credit: MARK TAYLOR/WAIKATO TIMES


“Timber, obviously comes out of forestry, and are those forestry roads still serviceable? We don’t know yet.

“We have set ourselves up pretty well to mitigate that risk, we have our own yard for storage of bulk supply.

“So we have enough to keep us going for some time, but depending on what the cyclone has done to the timber market, if there is an effect it will probably hurt us in the next three months.

“We do not know yet, we are speculating, but we can only assume there is going to be some delays producing timber.”

Lake Rotoaira forest has been closed while New Zealand Forest Managers, a privately-owned forest management company, assesses the “significant” damage. A spokesperson said the managers were in a board meeting and unavailable to comment.

The Lake Rotoaira Forest Trust controls an area of 16,447ha which includes 5,727ha of planted rotation forest. This represents 60 per cent of the total planted area in Lake Rotoaira Forest, with the Government owning the remainder.

Logs produced by the forest are sold to a wide range of mills, with 20-24% exported in log form.

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