A Christchurch housing idea

June 19th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press reports:

The rental market cannot stabilise itself with its “hands tied”, a Canterbury University finance and economics lecturer says.

Dr John Fountain said the answer to ’s housing shortage did not lie with increasing the social housing pool, building working men’s villages or headleasing properties to underwrite rental costs.

The market “can’t and won’t solve this problem with its hands tied”, he said.

However, adapting existing housing or building “secondary suites” could help.

Dividing sections of large, old homes into self-contained, one or two-bedroom flats was an idea implemented in Fountain’s home city, Vancouver, when housing costs rose.

There were now “tens of thousands” secondary suites in the most popular suburbs of Vancouver and Toronto, holding up to 30 per cent of the rental market, he said.

Fountain said there were about 100,000 Christchurch properties that could follow suit and split into two.

Secondary suites in the city would not only take pressure off the rental market by increasing the supply of available accommodation in high-demand suburbs, but there was also a “very strong financial incentive for homeowners”.

Home extensions or adaptations were “fully insurable now” and would take only a few months to complete, he said.

The only hurdle was a Christchurch City Council regulation that said residential dwellings could not have a second kitchen.

“I am not asking the Government to do anything except change that one regulation so ordinary people can do this and do it quickly,” he said.

Looks like a very sensible and painless way to get more housing available. Increasing the supply is the only sustainable way to reduce rents.

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13 Responses to “A Christchurch housing idea”

  1. Colville (1,774 comments) says:

    Good idea.
    Put a life span on the alteration of say 5 years so it needs to be removed before that time is up once the need has past.

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  2. thedavincimode (6,119 comments) says:

    SO, the master plan is that everyone in Christchurch goes flatting.

    BTW, what about the people that own these homes?

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  3. MT_Tinman (2,790 comments) says:

    thedavincimode (3,170) Says:
    June 19th, 2012 at 2:09 pm
    SO, the master plan is that everyone in Christchurch goes flatting.

    BTW, what about the people that own these homes?

    ““I am not asking the Government to do anything except change that one regulation so ordinary people can do this and do it quickly,” he said.”

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  4. thedavincimode (6,119 comments) says:

    Yes Tinman, I spotted that. I assumed he meant toss the lawful owners out onto the street.

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  5. YesWeDid (1,002 comments) says:

    There are 50 brand new relocatable units sitting on the old Women’s Hospital land, why aren’t these being used to relieve the housing shortage? The government paid a couple of million for these and they are just sitting idle.

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  6. Colville (1,774 comments) says:

    The 2nd kitchen on a single title brings in a rule in most town plans that prohibits “secondary residential units” ie granny flats unless there is a certian land area. Here in Palmy its 700M2 minimum to have a secondary unit.
    So you can put a toilet and shower into your garage and rent it out, you can have a cooking device but as soon as you have a sink unit its a “kitchen” and you need to apply for a resource consent for secondary dwelling and all the BS and council fees that goes along with that.
    What this guy is saying is relax that rule so people can either chop an existing flat into two or partition off a couple of rooms into a unit.
    If you had the space and did a budget alteration it would be a good little earner for some people and make a lot of space without actually doing any real building.

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  7. david (2,482 comments) says:

    Wasn’t aware of this regulation. It would appear on the surface to be totally discriminatory against Orthodox Jews who must prepare Kosher and non-kosher food in different kitchens. Wonder how they cope.

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  8. leftyliberal (601 comments) says:

    One presumes the regulation is in place to increase rates collected on properties with more than one dwelling. Surely there’s a bunch of flats/properties with Granny flats etc. already in Christchurch though? Perhaps it’s a classification issue?

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  9. Alan Wilkinson (1,798 comments) says:

    Yet another mad regulation for the sake of it – and of making money for councils. Just one of zillions.

    As I’ve said so often, Councils should be responsible for building health and safety – nothing else.

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  10. Goon (13 comments) says:

    Not sure I entirely agree with AW’s comments (@5:26pm) about the extent of council responsibilities. To get the flavour of what folks are up against read the second part of this article (about the bus bar) and dispair:

    http://www.listener.co.nz/culture/life-in-new-zealand/can-christchurch-be-revitalised/

    …..and check out the bar owners blog for more sorry details about the efficacy of local government building act processes even in the midst of the rubble:

    http://goodbyebluemonday.co.nz/

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  11. voice of reason (491 comments) says:

    “Fountain said there were about 100,000 Christchurch properties that could follow suit and split into two”

    100,00 ! What Bullshit – that would be about the entire housing stock of the city.

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  12. wikiriwhis business (3,286 comments) says:

    People are going to be rated and rented out of CHCH. Rates and rents should be dropping.

    Who would want to buy a house in CHch ??

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  13. Crampton (213 comments) says:

    I’m pretty sure John was misquoted on the number of available houses.

    But @Colville has things backwards. A five year limit means anybody doing it has to recoup their costs over a very short period; it’s a good way to make sure none get built. Let the guy putting in the flat decide for himself the point at which it’s no longer needed.

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