Overseas investment is the key to KiwiBuild success.

The Government’s plans to build 100,000 homes under its KiwiBuild programme will only be achieved with overseas investment, says Babbage Marketing and Business Development Manager, Warren Hill.

As Warren informed the New Zealand-China Building Industry Association annual conference, much of that investment is likely to come from China and particularly from Chinese companies already operating in New Zealand. Current Chinese investment in the sector is around $10b (invested in Auckland alone).

Warren noted that overseas companies looking to invest in the KiwiBuild programme will need to work with New Zealand companies like Babbage Consultants, who currently work within this country’s regulations, urban design requirements and the New Zealand Building Code. He continued, “Babbage has an extensive history working with overseas companies, particularly those from China, and we have a head-start in making this happen.”

“The Government wants to build 100,000 homes over 10 years and has committed $2 billion to the programme, but that is essentially seed funding,” he says. Without overseas funding we can’t do it - and the Government acknowledges that”. Major factors affecting the push to meet the building targets are land supply, master planning to achieve community housing needs, efficient Building Consent processing, appropriate consultancy fees and efficient, factory-made houses, all of which he says, will equate to affordably. 

“The supply of building materials is going to be challenging,” he says, “as they must be cost effective, of high quality and compliant with the requirements of the Building Code. Warren also observed that, “Despite the publicity around some high-profile cases, firms in China produce building materials from qualified factories selling on the international market that can satisfy the standards required in NZ.”

Warren told the conference, held at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau of July 27 and attended by Housing Minister Phil Twyford and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, that New Zealanders needed to have a re-think about what they expected from future homes. “The cost of our houses is too high and the amount of land they’re built on is too big for the building’s footprint,” he says. “We need to look at smaller land size and smaller homes.

In response to the need for quality, affordability and high production needs, Babbage Consultants has developed a unique modular building system together with contractors and industry suppliers. The key to the cost efficiency has been its ‘bottom up’ design approach, stepping outside current materials supply market where virtual monopoly supply exists. The system has been designed for maximum efficiency of supply, construction and installation on site. Currently, the modular system envisages an 8 week process from commencement of fabrication until the keys are handed over on site.

As Warren concluded, “We need to re-think - our houses, the land they’re built on, and where the investment is going to come from if we’re going to succeed in our aims.”

Babbage building development manager speaking at the recent New Zealand-China Building Industry Association annual conference.
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