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Kāinga Ora awards first contract to build prefab transitional homes

An image of an OSM build by Builtsmart, which gives an idea of what new transitional houses will look like.

Kāinga Ora awards first contract to build prefab transitional homes
Geraden Cann / Stuff
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The first contract in a massive Kāinga Ora effort to use off-site manufacturing to supply ready-made transitional and public housing has been awarded.

Builtsmart will build 51 three and four-bedroom homes at its facility in Huntly, which will be transported by trucks to new sites in the likes of Rotorua.

Once work begins in mid-October, Builtsmart general manager Cameron Beverland said it was scheduled to take 33 weeks to complete the entire order.

Kāinga Ora general manager of construction and innovation Patrick Dougherty said further orders were being considered from Builtsmart and the first tranche would be ready for people to move into by mid-to-late-2022.

Builtsmart general manager Cameron Beverland says OSM has massive potential for helping alleviate New Zealand’s housing crisis. Image credit: TOM LEE/STUFF

Among other locations, Kāinga Ora was particularly looking at taking the homes to Rotorua, where Dougherty said there was high demand for transitional and public housing.

New homes will have a 6 Homestar rating

The homes will all be built to the Green Building Council’s 6 Homestar rating and compliant with the Healthy Homes requirements.

Beverland said big orders like Kāinga Ora’s allowed the company to order bulk materials with confidence.

Two of the builds currently under way at Builtsmart’s factory in Huntly. Image credit: TOM LEE/STUFF

“It’s an exciting contract for us,” Beverland said.

“We have a massive factory after a big expansion that’s been completed, so contracts like these are exactly what we’ve been striving for for probably five years.

“Professional house transporting companies move these houses for us. We can take buildings up to 23 metres long by 7.2 (metres) wide, and these fall well within that bracket.”

Builtsmart’s factory in Huntly allows workers to keep building homes even in bad weather, because all bays are covered. Image credit: TOM LEE/STUFF

The houses would have three different floor plans, and be in three different colour schemes.

The buildings would all have gable roofs and solid wood walls, using no plasterboard, meaning they would be hardier when moving and less easily damaged by tenants.

Dougherty said there was a “real and urgent need” to get families and children out of motels and other emergency housing and into more secure homes.

Kāinga Ora general manager of construction and innovation Patrick Dougherty says the domestic OSM market would benefit from large orders from the social housing provider. Image credit: KAINGA ORA/SUPPLIED

The Ministry for Housing and Urban Development’s Public Housing Quarterly Report showed in the June quarter, transitional housing places increased to 4432 places.

The Housing Register, which captures the number of people who have applied for public housing, hit a high of 24,475.

“We know that the construction sector in New Zealand is operating at full capacity, and innovative approaches are needed to deliver more quality homes, at a faster rate, and with the best possible outcomes for people, communities, and the construction industry,” Dougherty said.

Workers progress a current order for a prefabricated home at the Builtsmart warehouse. Image credit: TOM LEE/STUFF

The OSM programme would concentrate on transitional housing, although some public housing would also be built using the method.

“The New Zealand market for OSM homes is relatively small and scaling it up will take time. We recognise that as New Zealand's largest housing provider, Kāinga Ora has a large part to play.”

Dougherty said in the past year, Kāinga Ora had discussed the supply of OSM homes with several firms.

An example of a Builtsmart OSM build.

Builtsmart has previously made modular classrooms for the Ministry of Education, and does a lot of Iwi houses for trusts, Beverland said.

There were 50 construction bays at Builtsmart’s Huntly facility following a $15m expansion, meaning 50 homes could be built at any one time.

“Each will take seven to eight weeks, max.”

Beverland said the method of building said builders didn’t have to compete with the weather, and construction could continue rain or shine.

Builtsmart founder Philip Leather said with demand so high for OSM, the company had decided to build a $11.5 million factory in Feilding, which would include about 34 building bays.

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