Lower quality KiwiBuild homes could see New Zealanders miss out on $700 million

19 June 2018

New Zealanders could miss out on almost $700million worth of household savings and social benefits if the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild programme constructs homes only to the minimum legal standards, a new report released today (Tuesday) suggests.

The report, written by economic consultancy Sense Partners, compares the costs and benefits of building the 100,000 KiwiBuild homes to the New Zealand Building Code, and to a higher quality, independent standard, called Homestar.

Building KiwiBuild homes to the Homestar standard could see total benefits of over $680million. These benefits would include savings in electricity and water bills for those living in KiwiBuild homes, and also social benefits through reduced climate change pollution, waste and water runoff.

The report, called Codebusters: an analysis of constructing KiwiBuild homes to a standard above the New Zealand Building Code, concludes that, if KiwiBuild homes are built to a higher quality than the Building Code, 'the private benefits outweigh the costs, and there are also substantial social benefits. There is compelling evidence to move towards higher quality homes.’

Report author Shamubeel Eaqub will present the findings of the report to hundreds of New Zealanders involved in the housing sector tomorrow (Wednesday) at The Housing Summit, held in Auckland.

The New Zealand Building Code is recognised as being behind international standards, and has been criticised by leading global organisations including the International Energy Agency and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The Government still has an opportunity to improve standards KiwiBuild homes will be required to meet, for factors such as heating, insulation and ventilation.

Andrew Eagles, chief executive of the New Zealand Green Building Council, who oversee Homestar, said: “Right now the Government has a once in a generation opportunity to make our homes better. The huge benefits of building KiwiBuild homes to a quality that New Zealanders deserve are clear and compelling – economically, socially and environmentally.

“The Government must seize this opportunity, and clearly indicate that all KiwiBuild homes will be authenticated to a standard higher than the Building Code. Doing so will deliver higher quality homes and millions of dollars of benefits for New Zealanders.”

Report author Shamubeel Eaqub said: “Building at a higher standard is a no brainer. But up front costs are putting off too many people. KiwiBuild is a 100,000 reasons to move New Zealand to a higher standard of homes. The scale and experience will bring down costs and build capability in the sector. We have to start now, else we will be locking in inefficiencies for many decades to come.”

Homestar measures the health, warmth and efficiency of New Zealand houses, and homes that meet the Homestar standard are rated on a scale from 6 to 10. A 6 Homestar rating or higher means that a house will be better quality - warmer, drier, healthier and cost less to run - than a typical new house built to building code.

Read the full report here.