Company buys up red-zone houses for removal

An Invercargill removal company is saving Christchurch red-zone homes from demolition by moving them to Southland and Central Otago.

King House Removals part-owner Warren Willis said 40 houses from the ravaged city had been bought by the company during the past two weeks.

Nothing was wrong with the houses, which would go up for sale on the company website, Willis said.

Most of the houses came from the residential red zones and were being removed because the land was not stable, he said.

There were about 4000 more houses he could buy which would otherwise be demolished.

Many of the houses had been moved to Central Otago.

They had just delivered a two-storey villa from the red zone to Arrowtown for a British investor, who intended to invest in more Christchurch houses.

The family business, which was started by his father, Fred Willis, in 1961, had worked on and off in Christchurch for years but now it had two fulltime crews, managed by his brother and part-owner, Grant Willis.

"The hours I am working here [Christchurch] are unbelievable. I am so busy, I need more workers," Grant Willis said.

Residents in Christchurch were sad selling their homes, but most were relieved they would not be demolished.

"People are coming into our yard and saying, `thank you for saving the beautiful houses'."

The Christchurch yard currently contained 12 red-zone houses that would sell throughout the South Island, with some going to Riverton and Mossburn.

Houses sold for $45,000 up to $160,000, depending on the size and age of the building.

He had just delivered a six-year-old home with new floors for $150,000.

He was also moving homes for residents in the red zone to safer areas such as Dunsandel.

"The red zone is crazy, in some parts everything is completely destroyed, but half a block over, houses do not even have a crack," he said.

So many diggers were in the area, it was like a new subdivision of Christchurch.

Warren Willis said things were looking up for the company, which had more than doubled its business in the past two years.

"There is now a trend for moving older houses in the region rather than building new homes," he said.

Clients were requiring other services from the company after taking delivery of their houses. Fairfax NZ