Cosy options for quake tenants

PLANS: The layout of a three-bedroom NZ Transportable Unit house.
PLANS: The layout of a three-bedroom NZ Transportable Unit house.

The builders chosen to build temporary housing planned for Christchurch post- earthquake promise their units will be warm and well- equipped, if a little compact.

Three suppliers have been chosen to provide the first 300 portable homes - Jennian Homes, NZ Transportable Units and a consortium of Hawkins, Spanbild and Fulton Hogan. Three other firms will be called upon if needed.

Some of the little homes will go in public areas including Linwood Park and New Brighton's Rawhiti Domain, while others will pop up in people's own yards while their houses are rebuilt.

Kaiapoi and a Burwood location not yet confirmed may also get some.

As well as small complete homes which can sleep up to six people, there will be sleepout, laundry or bathroom units only.

They have had to meet standards set by the Department of Building and Housing for warmth and safety, and will be be lined, insulated, and ready for residents' furniture and personal touches.

Jennian, a house building company with franchises around the country, says it will begin work on the homes soon.

Theirs will have two, three or four bedrooms, and while especially designed for the project they will be similar to farm cottages the company already builds.

The units will have plywood walls and timber floors to make them aftershock-resistant. As well, they will have double-glazed windows, heatpumps, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.

"The benefits of having a warm, secure space to come home to cannot be underestimated," says Jennian Homes Canterbury director Bruce Maetzig.

Jennian spokeswoman Lisa Wilde says the units will be made by the company's Christchurch and Mid- Canterbury franchises in the city. There will be no showhomes, but a proto-type has been made.

NZ Transportable Units normally manufactures its portable buildings in Auckland.

However, it is setting up a new facility in Christchurch where it will make most of the units for the quake project, with any overflow being produced from the Auckland plant.

Co-owner Russell Heenan says the company's units will have two or three bedrooms, and will be very similar to a Porta Pad range they already make.

"We are just working on the plans at the moment, there may be a couple of small differences from our usual designs.

The company expects most of the homes it provides will go on people's own properties rather than in parks.

By May NZ Transportable Units will have showhomes ready so people can visit and choose what they want.

Hawkins, with Spanbild and Fulton Hogan, will build and install about 200 homes in Linwood, New Brighton and Kaiapoi.

Their first show home will be built in Linwood Park early next month, with homes being ready a few weeks later.

All the companies say they will use local labour to build the portable homes, with Hawkins indicating it will be employing 250 extra tradespeople.

It is expected the suppliers will sell off the units when quake refugees have finished with them, with buyers expected to put them to use as farm cottages, granny flats and sleepouts.

The Department of Building and Housing says the portable units will be needed for a minimum of one year and a maximum of three, with as many as 5000 families expected to move in and out of them.

The Government has set aside $38 million for the housing.

However, some money would be recovered through rent, which will range from $190 for a two-person house to $337 for a six-person house.

People wanting a portable unit on their own property will also have to meet installation costs.

With the portable homes smaller than the average house, storage space is expected to be in demand. Commercial real estate agents are already reporting an upswing in people wanting lock-up units.

The Press