New house-making factory hoped to ease housing shortage

The Government is refusing to say whether a giant prefabricated house-building factory in Auckland could help save its failed KiwiBuild programme.  

Fletcher Building's $15 million factory opened up Wednesday morning and will pump out 500 homes a year.

"We know this is how we can build as many houses as we can, as quickly as we can," says Housing Minister Megan Woods.

Once the parts are completed, they'll be trucked to a building site and assembled. 

The high-tech facility reduces build times by 60 percent, from 22 weeks to around six to 10 weeks. 

"The benefits for Auckland and New Zealand are obvious," says Ross Taylor, of Fletcher Building. "More homes more quickly, local investments, improved productivity and less building waste."

Only about 60 KiwiBuild homes are prefabs, and Woods won't say if this technology could have been the saving grace for the Government's failed flagship policy.

"Look, I don't like to deal on the hypotheticals," she said.

But one thing that isn't hypothetical is the need for houses. 

Auckland's feeling the brunt of the housing shortage - it's population is rising by 40,000 every year.

"We need the houses and we need them now," says Auckland mayor Phil Goff.

Woods says off-site manufacturing could transform the building sector, and with the KiwiBuild reset out for tender at the moment, it's almost certain the Government will be making the most of large-scale production to get people inside homes.

"We're not going to take our foot off that pedal," says Woods.

The first home will roll out of the factory on Thursday, with 100 due to be finished by the end of the year. 


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