Spokesperson for the Green Party
When cheap housing is disguised as affordable housing, the real costs are spread across more time than the original build.
That means higher running costs for maintenance, energy (including that long commute to work), social and health effects (due to people crammed into small houses with no gardens), and more.
Investors are quick to buy cheap houses. The proposed new ‘affordable housing’ subdivision in Tauriko is likely to result in a high proportion of rental properties, suggesting high turnover and poor community development.
Take a wander around the western suburbs of Rotorua where thousands of cheap houses were built in the 1960s and ‘70s, probably to support first-home buyers. Today, social problems abound, the houses are sagging, and the proportion owned by absentee landlords is high.
A positive step is that energy upgrades on those houses are occurring as a result of Green Party initiatives. But those retrofits are costing the Government millions.
We are all paying today for the inadequate building code of yesteryear.
Yes, the building code has been updated and new builds of today are better insulated. But here is the main problem: cheap builds treat the minimum standard in the building code as a target. It is not, and we should be aiming higher.
People who live in colder climates than ours have been building houses with lower energy demands for decades. Our minimum standard today is about the same as it was in Sweden in 1970. Energy-efficient, quality-built houses cost less to run, and deliver clear health benefits, especially for children.
The aim, trumpeted through the building code, should be energy-neutral housing built using quality products that go the distance.
Yes, we need affordable housing. But please, we don’t need more cheap houses that cost us all more in the long run.
How might first home buyers afford a quality house built to a higher than minimum standard? Well, redistributing income in order to give them better equity would be a good start.