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Beware of cheap transportable buildings

Beware of cheap transportable buildings

People looking for cheap housing options should be wary of ‘rent to buy’ schemes offering to put relocatable dwellings on their land. Already a number of these buildings have been put onto East Coast properties.

These schemes do not cover the costs of ensuring the building is on piles or connected to services such as water, sewerage systems and electricity. All these things are necessary to set up a functioning home says Gisborne District Council building services manager Ian Petty. “People see they can get a transportable home for as little as $500 deposit and a basic weekly rental. They think yeah here is an affordable option to house our growing whanau. Unfortunately what is not being considered is that these dwellings, just like any other, need a building consent.”

They must be correctly installed so they don’t flood, are ventilated and avoid damp. They need to be connected to services so that those living in the house enjoy an acceptable standard of living.

“Council understands there is an urgent need for affordable housing options particularly on the East Coast. There are ways of doing this. Council is open to alternative solutions and is looking at its building standards to try and make them as achievable as possible for those on a limited budget while still complying with the requirements of the Building Act.”

“However we will not support any type of housing that exacerbates poor living conditions. In 2011 all residents should be living in homes with access to a ready supply of clean water, an efficient sewerage system, safe electricity and ventilation. You won’t get any of that by plonking a building on a spare piece of land and calling it a home.”

Two companies are offering transportable homes – one with a rent to buy scheme and the other with a straight rental. The fee covers the cost of the dwelling and insurance. It does not cover the cost of access to services and site preparation. To do this properly you are looking at tens of thousands of dollars depending of resource consents. If the renter falls behind in payments the house is simply repossessed and moved off site. However there is no comeback on the cost of septic tanks, piles, and electrical connections. There is a risk that people will be left with large bills for connections to services but no house to connect to.

A checklist has been provided to the two companies that are offering this type of housing. Floor and site plans must be provided as well as foundation and septic tank designs. “We thought we had come to an understanding on the building consent information they needed to provide,” says Mr Petty.

“This didn’t happen so Council issued a Notice to Fix under the Building Act. This means that no more units are to be located in the Gisborne region unless they have a building consent. Despite the apparent agreement and the Notice to Fix, further units have been placed on sections on the coast.”

The Council has fined one of the relocation companies for ignoring the Notice to Fix.

“This is not what Council wants to be doing. Imposing fines, on the property owner and/or the person doing work is contrary to the concept of supporting low cost consents. It is dead money that would be better spent on properly installed foundations. However Council needs to do something stop the spread of these unconsented buildings. In five years time the affects of living in substandard dwellings will come back to haunt us.”

For some people the rent to buy option can be a great idea. They are ideal as a ‘granny flat’ or the like where the dwelling is placed next to an existing house that is already hooked up to electricity, an ample water supply and septic system. For those with the money to install a septic tank, get building consents and have the house properly connected it can also be an attractive option; particularly if it utilises otherwise unused multiple owned land.

Council staff are keen to work in partnership with Te Runanga o Ngati Porou and loan providers to create sustainable affordable housing options for families in need in our region.


© Scoop Media

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