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Virtual tour: The future of state housing in New Zealand

3 August 2018

A video fly-through provides a sneak peek of how Housing New Zealand’s latest designs will look in our streets.

If you were to walk along a street of homes built to Housing New Zealand’s standard designs, the idea is that you wouldn’t be able to tell which houses are ours.

On the surface, there is nothing “standard” about these designs. Created by top architects and urban designers, they are stylish, creative, and highly functional. They feature attractive frontages, gardens, and modern materials.

However, newly-developed standard floor plans, layouts, and materials – known as standard house designs – will allow Housing New Zealand to build more houses, more efficiently, for less money.

These designs include such things as uniform room and lot sizes, as well as standard sizing and joinery for windows and doors, and componentry like bench tops and other fixtures and fittings. Standardisation also helps to reduce material waste, professional fees and council costs.

Housing New Zealand has developed standard designs for one and two-level homes, ranging from one to six bedrooms. There are three cladding and roofing options, and variants that allow for easy access for wheelchair users and older tenants.

This approach means that standardisation does not equal sameness. A virtual tour of the standard designs shows how attractive and distinctive these homes will be in a neighbourhood setting.

“These houses are definitely not going to look the same,” says Housing New Zealand programme director Matthew Hulett. “There’s potential for hundreds of variants within these designs that will prevent new developments from resembling Coronation Street, so to speak.”

Housing New Zealand has invested in ensuring the designs take into account the living environment that is created for occupants, as well as the character of the existing surrounding neighbourhoods.

Hulett says the designs have been through a rigorous process of peer review and consultation with the building industry.

‘All parties win’

The benefits of standard house designs are significant. They provide certainty for Housing New Zealand’s building partners, who will be able to calculate costs and materials right down to the last nail.

Working to standard designs also helps to reduce construction time and costs, allowing Housing New Zealand to build at scale, providing a much-needed boost to the country’s housing supply.

Tenants get the benefits of high-quality, architecturally-designed homes, built specifically for families of different sizes, or individuals.

“We’re really trying to understand the specific needs of our community and making sure that we capture that at the design phase,” Hulett says.

“It means when tenants move in, they are going into a nice, warm, comfortable, safe home.”

Hulett says that “all parties win” with standard house designs and the benefits will become more pronounced over time with the development of more efficient and economical processes for buying materials and getting building consents.

The standard house designs have been completed and are going through an en masse consent process with the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment.

Hulett says they will continue to refine the designs as houses are being built and by consulting with tenants.

“A design’s not done until someone’s living in it,” he says. “We’ll have architects and urban designers on site as we work through the process and start bringing these designs to life.”

Standard house designs will play an important role in helping Housing New Zealand to deliver tens of thousands of new social housing, affordable and market homes over the next 10 years.

“We’re changing the way that social homes are planned and constructed in New Zealand,” Hulett says.

“What we’re doing now is going to make sure there are solid, quality homes for New Zealanders for many years to come.”


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