Report raises concern over quality of Government's KiwiBuild houses

A new report has raised concern over the quality of the Government's flagship KiwiBuild programme.

A new report says if KiwiBuild homes are constructed to minimum standards that could cost families in the long run. Source: 1 NEWS

It says if KiwiBuild homes are constructed to the minimum legal standards, they could end up costing families in the long run.

The report’s author, economist Shamubeel Eaqub, blames our poor building code for our inadequate homes.

"We pretty much build all of our houses to the bare minimum. We build to the code but the code is not very good quality. If you look across the OECD, we are in the bottom end of the quality of houses," Mr Eaqub says.

Under the KiwiBuild scheme, the Government wants to build 100,000 affordable houses in just 10 years.

Mr Eaqub says New Zealand homes need to be of a higher standard to stand up to our cold winters and wet weather. If the Government’s new KiwiBuild homes only meet the minimum legal standards, it'll lead to higher household costs.

"Here is an opportunity of a really big project. Let's use this to build up the capability in the industry. All the way from architecture, design, supply chains, getting in the material, figuring out how to deal with waste, all of those things."

The New Zealand Green Building Council oversees a higher certification, the Homestar standard. Aucklander, Te Aorangi Corbett's been living in a Homestar house for 2 years. She says her power bills have halved compared to her last place.

"We barely need to use the heaters now, it's just that warm," Ms Corbett says.

The New Zealand Green Building Council, which oversees the Homestar building standard, says spending about one per cent to two per cent more on a build means homeowners will save in the long run.

"Each household in a Homestar six star home will benefit from $450-$500 off their energy bills each year and they’ll have a healthier, warmer home," New Zealand Green Building Council Chief Executive Andrew Eagles says.

But there's criticism the report's just laying down more obstacles. Professor of Construction Management at Auckland University, John Tookey says the Government just needs to start building.

"You can always upgrade your home in due course. So do we need to put additional impediments in the way that slows down the construction process or do we just actually crack on with the codes we have an build as many as we can?"

Housing Minister Phil Twyford has welcomed the report, and says he's working on ensuring KiwiBuild homes are well designed.

"Through KiwiBuild, we could seriously improve the quality of New Zealand houses. We want to make KiwiBuild homes warm and dry and energy efficient," Mr Twyford says.