Staples in $45m deal to build city homes
Earthquake Commission critic Bryan Staples is entering the residential construction game after securing a $45 million joint venture with a Chinese firm.
Staples, who has publicly battled EQC and insurers as a quake-damage repairer and homeowner advocate, said the agreement with Crown Homes would result in about 100 "environmentally sustainable" houses a year being built in Christchurch.
Concept designs have been drawn and land purchased in Halswell for the first three show homes.
Negotiations on the joint venture, known as Mi House Ltd, had taken nearly 18 months to complete, Staples said.
Crown was the "leader in the field of environmental solutions" for timber housing and was prominent in the European and North American markets, he said.
"We're putting in part of the money, they're putting in the majority of money - they're definitely the big financial partner, but we've got the infrastructure."
While appearing to be a departure from his main line of work, Staples said his original reason for relocating from Australia to Christchurch was to build houses, not insurance battles. "Fighting insurance companies was a by-product because we just had to do that before we could build houses. This has always been my plan."
Bob Burnett Architecture has created the designs. Initial floor plans range from 160 square metres to 220 sqm.
The work would be undertaken by a "core group" of preferred contractors and most of the materials would be pre-fabricated off site, Staples said.
Although the first three show homes are at Halswell's Longhurst and Aidanfield developments, Staples said new subdivisions were not the target market.
The plan was to "try and regenerate the city" by building on brownfield sites.
"I have a belief that building all the way out in these suburbs is not forward thinking.
"We're going to run into an energy crisis, if we're not already in one at the moment. Building further and further out is not a sustainable way to go."
The plan also includes an aim to commit 20 per cent of the housing stock to social housing.
Multiple dwellings on small lot sizes and prefabrication of materials would reduce costs, Staples said.
He would be speaking to the council, social agencies and charitable organisations.
"We have a duty and obligation to make this a better city for everyone, not just those in the higher income bracket."
Staples was confident the new venture would not shift his focus from EQC and insurance complaints.
"No way. We've just put on another two lawyers," he said.