Prefabricated homes offer affordable housing future

A specialised truck with steering axles for manoeuvrability delivers a modular home.

The three-bedroom, 143 square metre Vista 3 modular home from Advance Build.The three-bedroom, 143 square metre Vista 3 modular home from Advance Build.

Modular homes produced in a Northland factory could be the solution to the Government’s bungled KiwiBuild programme, which was scrapped in the 2020 budget.

Northland firm Advance Build is able to produce a prefabricated house and deliver it within nine weeks.

For potential buyers interested to see what such a home might look like, there is a display home at 8F McKinney Road in Warkworth. About a third of Advance Build’s business comes from north Rodney and Kaipara, via its Warkworth office.

Sales manager Craig De Goldi says building in factory conditions removes hold-ups from weather or waiting for sub-contractors to arrive on site.

Compliance is also much easier because licensed building practitioners are always on site, and their building designs are consistent.

“We are able to get building consent within around 10 days, while an onsite build might take three months to hear back from Council,” Craig says.

He says a modular home also provides consumers with confidence, with a fixed cost for the core build, as there are fewer unforeseen circumstances.

Costs range from $185,000 for a 60-square metre home to $350,000 for a four-bedroom, 155-square metre home.

There are some additional costs for connections to services, such as power and water.

Advance Build employs 25 full time workers at its factory in addition to design and administration staff.

They can produce 65 houses a year.

Craig says the current factory is at capacity due to demand and earthworks have begun for a larger site in Kerikeri.

“It has been great for the area,” he says.

The current Advance Build factory has its own frame and truss plant on site, but otherwise the houses are built in the traditional way by builders.

Advance Build will deliver as far as south Auckland, although most of its business is north of the Johnstones Hill tunnels.

Advance Build has a half-a-million-dollar specialised truck that transports builds up to 21.5 metres long by 8.4 metres wide. It is able to angle and lift over fences up to 2.5 metres high.

Craig says that banks have changed their attitude towards modular homes in recent years, after formerly preferring on-site builds.

He says over the last two years most banks have adapted and have ‘prefab loans’ that apply to modular homes.

“The other day we handed over a house to a guy who had got finance after two years of trying. Banks know it’s the future now.”

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