Golden Homes founders Len and Jill Helms today launch Ubuilt. The venture could also create hundreds of new jobs in the city, they said. The kitsets, which range from $49,667 for a 45sq m house to $85,471 for 103sq m, would be constructed at a factory the couple had owned for about five years in Hewletts Rd. The Helms own the supply chain with 50 staff already employed and numbers likely to climb.

The Helms said the government and iwi could consider leasing land out to Kiwis so they could erect Ubuilt homes, but the project did not hinge on that. "In this way, they could quickly offer New Zealanders a warm and stylish home to raise their family and a mortgage that would be cheaper than rent."

Kitsets could also appeal to farmers and parents who wanted to help their kids get on the property ladder.

Photo Caption: Len Helms at his factory in Hewlett Rd in front of a trailer with steel framing for two kitset houses. Photo/George Novak

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford said he could not endorse private companies but welcomed any innovation in the housing sector that would lead to more houses being built more quickly.

''While leasehold titles reduce costs for homeowners upfront, they don't reduce the overall cost of land. That's because they simply defer payments while the owners pay rent on the land in the interim."

The Government was working to address the housing crisis in Tauranga, he said. Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless said in his view housing prices were ''out of control'' and any concept which enabled people to get into an affordable, quality home was important. Brownless supported competition in the marketplace but said he was mindful a lot of people did not want any more housing in the city due to traffic congestion. The council was also struggling to keep up with ongoing infrastructure, he said.

Priority One special projects manager Annie Hill said the biggest challenges hindering new housing in Tauranga was the cost of building materials in New Zealand, the availability and cost of land and resources to build the houses.

Classic Group director Peter Cooney said there was definitely a market in relation to lease land. But the issue that needed to be resolved was the term of the lease and ''it being long enough to give the security that homeowners will be looking for''. Cooney said there were plenty of opportunities to create housing stock but councils got caught up in the Resource Management Act process and consenting which was ''seriously causing major problems in delay and associated costs''.

''Politics is crushing our industry ... by the middle of next year, I believe there will be less than a 1000 greenfield sections available to build on. For Tauranga, the underlying issue is Government, they want affordability but are not willing to engage in our roading network which is causing major delays in rezoning land. ''How can you have growth, affordability, without infrastructure?'' Twyford said the Government had committed $158 million of 10-year interest-free loans to Tauranga City Council to support major infrastructure projects through the Housing Infrastructure Fund.

By the numbers:

  • The Ubuilt range from 45sq m for $49,667, to 103sqm for $85,471

  • All Ubuilt home designs come with double glazed thermally broken aluminium windows and quick to construct ZOG steel framing

  • The Helms also own a steel framing company based in Christchurch

  • Ubuilt kitset homes can only be ordered online and delivered anywhere in New Zealand within 20 working days

As published in Bay of Plenty Times, 26-Feb, 2019
By: Carmen Hall
Carmen is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times @ Bay_Times