December 30 2014, updated 2:18am

Homes plan a 'bland recipe'

Last updated 23:39 24/03/2008

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A new Government "recipe" for mass-produced housing risks creating acres of bland, identical landscapes, designers say.

Plans unveiled yesterday by Building and Construction Minister Shane Jones aim to cut some of the red tape associated with do-it-yourself home renovations, while also paving the way for developers to build up to 50 houses with just one building consent.

A new "mega-consent" would enable the construction of identical dwellings in either the same area, or other locations nationwide, Mr Jones said.

The plan was aimed at relieving large-scale builders from the current bureaucracy, which had not encouraged affordable housing developments, he said.

Under current regulations, councils "exhaustively pored" over individual consents for each new home and delays were costing up to $30,000 a property.

But architects and designers are warning against a one-size-fits-all approach.

Professor Roy Fleetwood, of Victoria University's Architecture and Design Faculty, said the plan risked creating cardboard cut-out houses.

"It could be a very banal approach that doesn't necessarily solve the problem."

Under the plan, a compliance document - a "building recipe" - would outline requirements for starter homes with standardised features, including flooring, walls, roofing, windows and product certification for materials.

Mr Fleetwood said the Kiwi dream was to build your own home, but individuality was highly prized.

But Mr Jones said starter homes would have a range of options for each development. A national starter home competition was also planned to encourage good design.

"These houses will not be a re-run of something on the outskirts of less desirable suburbs.

"The differences may be modest in terms of structural integrity, but significant in terms of how the house is presented."

It was also announced that fewer building projects, such as simple home renovations removing walls, would need a mandatory project information memorandum.

The Government also planned a builder's licence by 2010, enabling tradesmen to certify their work - similar to that of electricians and plumbers, Mr Jones said.

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- The Dominion Post

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