Tailor homes to fit budget - Lyall

23:30, Jan 22 2013

More people would be able to afford to buy their own homes if they aligned their expectations with their budgets, Marlborough District Council executive projects manager Jamie Lyall said yesterday.

Compliance costs had increased substantially because of increased regulation, but the demand for larger, architecturally-designed houses had also increased, he said.

"The cost of building is relative to the square metres. Houses today are substantially bigger than they were two decades ago.

"To reduce the cost of new houses, people could consider downsizing their double garage or not having an ensuite and build a three-bedroom home of a reasonable size."

Marlborough builder Andrew Lawson agreed compliance costs, including licensing, health and safety and building consents, had risen considerably, but the standard of housing had also improved.

When he built his first home 20 years ago, a 1000-square metre section cost about $30,000 and the 140sqm house cost about $100,000.


Today a similar section would cost about $180,000 and the same house would cost $200,000, showing an imbalance between the increase in the cost of land and building, he said.

The 2013 9th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey showed house prices in New Zealand cities were increasingly out of reach for most people. The median house price was 5.3 times the average wage, rating house prices as "severely unaffordable".

The survey said high housing costs led to reduced living standards and increased poverty rates, because the higher costs left households with less to spend on other goods and services.

The housing affordability problem could be traced to the failure to maintain a competitive land supply, the survey said.

Council environmental policy manager Pere Hawes said the 2006 Growing Marlborough strategy was put in place to identify land for urban growth until 2031.

The strategy would unlock more land for residential use and provide direction for the public and the private sectors, he said.

"Marlborough will be well placed in the future to respond to pressures on land supply and the consequential effects on affordability," he said.

The council's Urban Growth Strategy had earmarked five areas for residential housing to the north, west and east of Blenheim.

However the council had to review the the implications of zoning conditions in light of the widespread liquefaction in Christchurch caused by earthquakes.

A liquefaction study carried out last year showed a very high risk of liquefaction in the eastern areas, and council had decided to concentrate on the north and west of Blenheim for growth, he said.

"The strategy coming out of this study will be coming out for public consultation some time in the next six months. The finalised areas will be included within the reviewed resource management plan for public submission."

The Marlborough Express