Proposals for factory built homes
Fletcher Building is drawing up a strategy that could see it build thousands of homes a year.
Christchurch may be its first target market because of the availability of land and the need for new homes after the earthquakes.
Fletcher is also investigating whether it could factory-produce the parts.
Its staple has been expensive ''bespoke'' homes in the Auckland market, but it is eyeing low-rise apartments, social and affordable housing, and multi-family dwellings.
The move is driven by new chief executive Mark Adamson, who is set to shake up the 104-year-old company.
''I come to run New Zealand's biggest construction company home-builder and discover we make 300 houses [a year]. My first question is, why aren't we making more? And we're a New Zealand company - why aren't we building more throughout the country and not just Auckland?'' he said.
He was in Christchurch today looking at the several roles Fletcher Building has in the rebuilding of the city and opportunities in the commercial and residential sectors.
''So what I've instigated is a wholesale review as to how we can be far, far bigger, orders of magnitude, not 300 becomes 400, but hundreds become thousands over a period of time. And not just the houses we currently build.''
He had asked the team to have a clear direction by Christmas.
''I think there is a market for multi-family dwellings; low-rise apartments. I think there is some social-housing angle that we have been talking to Housing New Zealand about, I think there is an affordable-homes angle.''
The Auckland market was more of a challenge because of the lack of large parcels of land relatively close to the centre of the city, he said.
Christchurch had the money, the need and the land.
''You've got to have Auckland as part of our plan because it's half the population of the country, but in terms of the next priority, in fact possibly the most immediate and possibly the most interesting for us, because we are not here now, would be Christchurch.''
New construction techniques for affordable housing were used around the world, he said.
The floor plans of each were the same and the house parts were built in factories, but clever architects could ''dress up the exterior'' to be different.
Adamson said Fletcher was ''looking at whether we can factory-produce, but that's a way off; that's a couple of years off".
''You do drive though subdivisions [of factory-built homes] and you are not conscious it looks like East Germany.''
But it would require a culture shift in New Zealand, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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