16 Oct 2019

Hundreds more homes to be produced after off-site manufacturer boosts capacity

6:33 pm on 16 October 2019

A $15m revamp of the country's largest off-site home manufacturer opened in Auckland today, which will now be able to pump out 500 new homes a year.

A prefabricated house being put together at Hobsonville Pt.

A prefabricated house being put together at Hobsonville Pt. Photo: Supplied / Fletcher Building

Fletcher Building unveiled the new facility, called Clever Core, in Wiri.

Fletcher Residential and Development chief executive Steve Evans said the facility had the capability to build core structural components of a home.

"So when you think about the walls, you think about an intermediate floor if you've got two storeys, you think about a roof, what we're effectively doing is creating those components - those panels," he said.

"They can be assembled on site so instead of a traditional house build that takes you seven to eight weeks from when your ground slab is cast to when your roof goes on - it takes a day."

Mr Evans said the process included cutting the openings for powerpoints and doors, double glazing and insulation.

The panels are then trucked out to the build site where it is all assembled and exterior claddings are added.

Mr Evans said this would reduce onsite build times by 60 percent - from 22 weeks to as short as six weeks.

He was quick to point out that these homes were of the same quality as their traditionally-built homes.

Building waste makes up 40 percent of all waste in Auckland sent to the landfill.

But Fletcher Building Group chief executive Ross Taylor said the new off-site home building factory would reduce waste by 80 percent.

"Every time we cut, the wood chips get vaccumed up... and then what we do then is we use them up in our Golden Bay Cement plant as fuel to offset coal. If you look at the insulation - every time we cut it off, we actually reuse on the next wall panel so there's zero waste there," he said.

"When you go across all those things we're doing across all those bits, we've reduced the waste from one house to one garbage bag."

The first 100 homes to be completed by the end of the year will be going to developments in the Auckland suburbs of Ormiston, Swanson and Beachlands.

Housing Minister Megan Woods was at today's facility launch and said the government had always looked at off-site manufacturing as a solution to building more houses.

Housing Minister Megan Woods

Housing Minister, Megan Woods. Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

"Something like this has always been part of the picture of Kiwibuild, we've built about 60 Kiwibuild houses already using off-site manufacturing," she said.

"We're going through a process at the moment around establishing a panel - it's certainly will be part of the future of Kiwibuild and it was always going to be a part of Kiwibuild."

But she was firm this did not mean the government would be setting a new target on the number of houses built.

Mr Evans said a quarter the designs Fletcher Building has for homes can be built using its new factory.

"It's not a conventional 'I'm-just-designing-for-a-house', it's designing so it can be manufactured in an environment like this and that takes time, that takes an engagement through the initial stages of the design process," he said.

Mr Evans said Fletcher was now talking to eight other architect firms to come up with designs to make even more houses using offsite manufacturing.

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