I had grand plans at the start of 2020. I was excited to be back on Greater Auckland and writing seriously about housing.

And then a Covid-shaped curveball came along, and didn’t seem to leave space for much else. I’m not sure how you all spent your lockdown (Interesting stories? Share in the comments!), but for me it was a juggle: trying to still work as close to 40 hours a week as possible, and parenting our toddler with my wife who was also trying to work. I’ve never spent so much time inside my home, and in such a small radius around it.

I love my home, and my neighbourhood, but it was a stressful time and by the time I finished each day, I just didn’t have the energy for blogging. Matt and Heidi did an amazing job continuing to write during this time.

I didn’t manage a “side hustle” during lockdown, but I crafted a heck of a dad joke

Now we’re almost back to normal (and daycare is open again, hallelujah) I feel I’ve got the bandwidth to start this up again. But like anything, it needs to be re-evaluated in light of Covid-19. Are the things I was wanting to write still relevant? Is this still the right “editorial direction” for us to take on housing? Some of the things I wanted to cover this year:

  1. Housing as a human right
  2. Why a home is more than just a roof over your head
  3. How should ‘housing affordability’ be defined?
  4. How should ‘housing quality’ be defined?
  5. How do we ensure that our housing is sustainable?

This still seems pretty good to me, albeit only a starting point. There’s so much to cover – I had a numbered list of 18 points on the housing page, and many more thoughts besides that. Climate change and sustainability should be front and centre, and I also wanted to move beyond just numbers (how many homes, how much do they cost) towards understanding quality too.

Quality seems even more important now, when we’ve all been spending much more time at home. Are our homes fit for purpose? Will they stay warm and dry year-round, and can we live well within them? Is there space to play, a place to kick a ball around within walking distance?

Lockdown bushwalks in the Domain

‘Working from home’ deserves a post of its own. But one post suggests that only 31%-36% of NZ jobs can be done from home. So do our homes really need a ‘home office’ space, or simply spaces that can adapt to the changing needs of their residents? Surely we can’t just tack on an extra 10 square metres to every new home, costing an extra $30,000 or so, to make sure every home has space for one? Will Covid make us shift from cities to small towns, or vice versa? Within cities, will we intensify or spread out?

Covid could also have a large impact on our housing shortage. Migration accounted for a whopping 65% of NZ’s population growth over 2013-2019, and now that’s gone – for now. And as we head into recession, what will happen to the number of homes being built?

I’d love to hear from you all about how this experience has changed housing for you or people you know – maybe you’re rethinking the home you live in, maybe you’re rediscovering the joys of your neighbourhood, maybe you’re relocating to be close to family or small furry animals. And how do you see the way we live changing, in the aftermath of Covid and over the next few years?

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  1. 1 day in the City Centre Office
    1 day at home
    3 days in a Metropolitan Centre satellite office

    Auckland is large and the super commute happens too much
    Post Covid shows work does not need to be consigned to a City Centre (Wellington is finding this out hard while South Auckland it is nothing new given most in the South work in the South)

    But as John did ask; for the South, the strong community links were severed during lock down as travelling across the sub region was hampered if you did not have a car. But walking along Porchester Road was certainly pleasant – it isn’t now with the traffic back.

  2. Nothing has changed for me, starting the process of buying a home in Auckland but the market just has no value for places we want to live. $700k for a small 2 bed bungalow attached to other dwellings in Birkenhead. Its still wild out there..

    In terms of working from ‘home’ and building communities, Im surprised I’ve never seen much about bringing Libraries or Community centres into the 21st Century with WFH in mind. What if communities each had very small tech hubs where people without the luxury of mass office space could work safely, pre booked or a subcription, with a little cafe etc. I know some things like this exist but its definitely a direction Community Centres could be looking at.

    1. Hang in there, house prices will fall. Not as much as we would like but still something like 10-20%. We’re already seeing the beginning of it but house price corrections take a while to develop. After the wage subsidy and mortgage deferral periods are over there should be more movement.

      1. I tend to agree. The end of the year and into early next will see the tide turn.

        From memory, Auckland-wide only saw a decrease of 10% at the time of the GFC. This will be more, but not more than 20%. Plenty of expat demand (buyers) returning to NZ’s shores to soften things.

      2. You wouldn’t be the first to recommend a FHB hangs in there! That advice can be terribly wrong (or right of course!).
        There is the possibility that people decide that home ownership and/or a larger house are more important to them in a post COVID world. That could push prices up. Then there is also the possibility of money printing causing inflation.
        Who knows, I sure don’t.

      3. Nah, everyone who has cash available will take this as an opportunity to buy. I pick house prices plateauing temporarily or going up. The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.

        1. If they have cash available they have probably already been buying. If unemployment goes up significantly there will be less demand, not only from those unemployed but many others who are uncertain about their future.

          Property prices are hard to predict at the best of time, they’re even harder now. I can’t see many people with the cash available thinking now’s a great time to buy a house at near record prices.

        2. Don’t forget about the record low interest rates that will put the current prices within reach of a lot more people.
          I guess a big factor is the type of unemployment. If it is mostly in tourism / retail / hospitality it might be mostly people who were not likely to enter the housing market anyway.
          I can see it going either way really. I guess a big crash is more likely than a big increase, but that was probably the case prior to COVID too.

        3. It’s worth remembering interest rates fell from about 9 % to about 4 % (mortgate would have been a bit higher) in 2008 and property prices fell, unemployment generally trumps interest rates.

          It’s not just unemployment either, it’s underemployment, where people lose hours and of course business going bust.

      4. I don’t see the economic downturn as hitting house prices in Auckland. There was a housing stock shortage in Jan 20 and that is still going to be the case in Jan 21 and Jan 22.
        The hit to the economy is mostly felt in the tourism sector, so while house prices in Queenstown will tumble, why would they in Auckland?
        Also, most unemployment will hit renters, so rents could drop, but as the real money is in the capital gains, why would you sell? Mortgage rates are low, so most of the buy to rent market will just sit on it.
        Finally, when you sell a house, you need a place to live and tend to buy another. Most houses in NZ are actually lived in by their owners, so I don’t see a big shift.
        I expect prices to be stable and some small gain even.
        But it’s a guess just like everyone else’s view.

  3. WIth everything else in mind, I do think we will go back to ‘normailty’ fairly soon infact Councl and CCO’s are already forgetting what Covid was and trying to revert to BAU as best as possible. What we might see

    -Return of Commerical Highrises with smaller floor plates in the CBD. Those giant Business park builds of Mansons might be a thing of the past where Companies need every one of their employees in the same room at the same time

    – Catching up on Housing, including State housing. Immigration doesn’t affect the fact we have a huge shortfall on state housing.

    – I don’t think it will affect the types of building, Developers will build whatever they are allowed that gives them the biggest profit.

    – IF (only time will tell) there is a long term large drop in foreign students etc, we could see some developments of some of those horrific shoeboxes on Hobson and Nelson etc. Developed into bigger apartments or a bigger mix, entice a different clientele. Unlikely but a thought.

    Personally I think we will see very little change in housing from a social distancing perspective, New Zealanders had pretty much forgotten what distancing was at Level 3 and once a treatment or vaccine comes along it will be a thing of the past.

  4. I wouldn’t necessarily jump to the conclusion that Covid-19 will reduce net migration. Remember that there are multiple factors affecting net migration:

    – How many non-New Zealanders are moving to NZ
    – How many NZers are moving back from overseas
    – How many NZers are moving overseas

    While Covid-19 has essentially stopped the first factor, the other two are likely to be much more positive than usual, possibly for a few years to come if NZ is seen as much safer than other countries. This could actually mean higher than expected net migration.

    1. Even if migration to and from NZ ceases for a significant period of time: NZ still has a chronic housing shortage.

  5. It will be interesting to see how the CBD unfolds…

    It seems that a lot of the paper pushing office based sector have gotten quite a taste for working from home. Amongst my circle, almost all are keen to start working from home more often in a Post Covid world.

    Employers are waking up to the fact that their staff are generally more productive from home and also the overhead costs of having less staff on-site are substantial. Ergo, I think we will see a reduction in office space demand as employers seek to downsize their office foot print. The flow on effect is that city will become less busy during the day and businesses will suffer.

    To me this represents a real opportunity to think about how we can create more affordable dense living options by encouraging the retrofit of these buildings to apartment based living. If we want to keep the CBD vibrant it is crucial this is looked at.

    1. Agree with all of that, particularly retro-fitting. Although one thing I haven’t figured out is the office footprint.

      In practice, employers will want to reduce reduce space (rent) by hot-desking. And if this had not been a health issue, that would play out to people sharing desks and alternating between work days. But now, everyone will want or insist on their own space when they are in the office. How to juggle that…

      1. I should add I am going to find out very soon as we head back to the office and this is one of the discussion points.

      2. RE: Own space. In a hot desking environment that obviously wont work. At Alert Level 1 and beyond… exercising good hygiene (washing hands, wiping down work station etc… should be enough from a public health perspective.

  6. Due to demand, my company has just changed the rules for everyone to only be in the office for two days a week with the rest remote if you want. Most people cited commuting as the reason for not wanting to be in the office full time. What I’m hearing is that young people flatting tend to want to go into the office as space is tighter for them at home.

    What could be the outcomes if this becomes the norm? Will everyone want a McMansion to work from home from, will public transport die a slow death, again? I hope not.

    1. As a young person flatting I can support that conclusion. If you’re in shitty, uninsulated flat and only have a small desk in the corner of your bedroom then the office is paradise in comparison. Hence why I have been in everyday since Level 2 started. One of my flatmates moved back into his parents for Level 4 and 3 for that reason solely.

      1. Also, from my junior staff, they have just left uni and hit the big wide world and want to be out meeting people – their colleagues and clients. In the CBD and all the buzz and activity. Drinks after work, socializing with a new crowd.

        Or as one put it, “how do you meet girls at home?”

        1. +1 Lol. Super important, really. Otherwise, I guess, it’s all just online. Ukkk.

    2. I think its highly likely that WFH will increase after COVID compared to before. The question is by how much. If 40% of the 36% who can WFH do so, that is a 14% drop in commuters. But probably a much higher proportion of City based commuters.

  7. Here is some thoughts.
    1. If the Covid Recession is as bad as the GFC then house building will half. The collapse in the construction sector from 2008 to 2015 exacerbated the housing crisis price boom from 2012. This collapse was 10,000 plus houses a year. People need to understand the scale of the problem. Numbers are important.
    2. The NZ government needs to match the Australian govt support for the construction industry or it will lose its skilled construction workforce.
    The Australian govt is giving $25,000 per new build house.
    3. Foreign migration is temporarily stopped but NZ nationals are free to return. Anecdotally this is occurring as overseas kiwis are not eligible for social supports in places like Australia.
    4. NZ needs a govt-led house building programme to support the collapsing construction industry. The flaws in KiwiBuild need to be addressed. Many KB homes were built in wrong places, prices were too high, the vast majority of renters could not afford a KB home. The recession exacerbates these issues. A Govt-led build programme needs to commit to an even greater build-to-rent programme (bigger than the recently announced extra 8000 state homes over 4 years) and it needs significant capital investment.
    5. Housing is a human right and the above assistance needs to be analysed through that lens. A rental affordability standard is needed. Kiwis should be able to pay for the rent with 12 hours work i.e. 30% of there income (assuming a 40 hour week). This standard should be called Living Rent.
    6. Affordable housing advocates need to get their head around the difference between positive and negative planning because what society understands can be built.
    7. Housing can make a significant contribution to NZ’s 2050 Carbon-Zero goal, both through its location, access to multi-modal transport infrastructure, being a master planned walkable neighbourhood etc and by its energy efficiency in construction and operating energy consumption.
    8. Housing should be about community building. There are lessons to be learnt from Hobsonville which successfully build a higher density close-knit community.
    Hobsonville is a Great Kiwi Leap Forward especially 2 storey, street master-planning, established planting & schools built so the infrastructure was in place but high density it is not- at approximately 40 dwellings hectare its the same as Freeman’s Bay & Mt Vic. The next Hobsonville needs to be taken further New Zealand needs the 2.0, 3.0, 4,0… versions.
    9. What if NZ took the community making lessons of Hobsonville Point, built mass transit, doubled the density to 80/dwellings hectare, added 30% state or community provider living rent housing with upgraded carbon-zero, energy efficient and seismic strengthened quality standards?

    1. It would be great if the NZ government began a new state housing program, to keep people employed in the construction industry and finally alleviate the housing shortage that the property industry lobbied governments to create. They could also rid NZ of much of that existing state housing stock (which let’s be honest, was always substandard).
      If they make it low-rise & medium-rise blocks of flats, it would be a great way to inject more of the needed & in-shortage skills amongst the NZ’s construction industry.

      But the big question is; is the current leadership of NZ up to it? Jacinda’s cabinet doesn’t exactly inspire me with confidence (and the Nat’s in opposition look no better).

      1. The question I have is not whether the Ministers are up for it. But whether the civil service is capable of delivering such a programme. For thirty years the dogma has been a civil service made of non-expert managers and funder/provider splits. In this sort of model. Who will be the chief architect and planner? Who will be the chief engineer? What value is given to ‘doers’.
        The funder/provider split completely messed up KiwiBuild. The funder government buying off the plans from developers (providers) who did not buy into the concept, did not change there business model from building expensive bespoke homes rather reallocating resources to the mass building of more modest housing that target middle and lower incomes.
        The reality is that KiwiBuild delivered by developers failed. In my opinion a more ‘hands-on’ approach should be tried. Read the paper Reinventing the MoW to Rebuild NZ that I link to above.

        1. Brendon you are being very kind to our bunch of incompetent ministers.
          But you certainly have a point on our civil service. A lot of policy generalists.
          But from what I have seen of the inner workings of the government, there’s a huge amount of ‘yes Minister’.
          That is, the obedient bureaucrats write what the ministers want to hear. The notion of ‘free and frank advice’ is a myth.
          The result is central government is one massive echo chamber.

    2. Some great points there Brendon and I agree with much of it…. however:

      We’ll hear plenty of calls for NZ to follow what Australia is doing and increase the subsidy for home buyers/ builders, but it doesn’t seem very equitable. It’s a big lump of cash for people who are in a position to buy (or upgrade) a home. Homeowners tend to be higher up the socio-economic ladder than renters, so it’s a middle class subsidy.

      Noting NZ does already subsidise people to do this, and more so for ‘new homes’ https://www.govt.nz/browse/housing-and-property/buying-or-selling-a-home/buying-your-first-home/. The subsidy has been around for some years and was increased under the National govt.

      If the govt is going to give countercyclical support to the building industry (and I think it should), it’s better to do so via state housing or retooling Kiwibuild, or through upgrade and insulation type schemes that start from the low end of the income spectrum up… various things that take welfare/ redistributive concerns into account.

      Will try to look at this in a future post!

      1. “We’ll hear plenty of calls for NZ to follow what Australia is doing and increase the subsidy for home buyers/ builders…”

        Wasn’t that that Nick Smith in the last National party government?

        Please no. It’s yet another Australian idea that politicians in NZ blindly copy, despite its far from successful outcome in Australia, instead of thinking through a proper NZ solution.

        1. They’re capped and the caps haven’t moved for many years now. By the time we actually found a house we could afford, our household income had blown the threshold and we weren’t eligible anymore.

      2. I completely agree with you John about the need to avoid a middle class subsidy when those with less income and resources are not getting housing support. I wasn’t advocated that NZ copy Australia’s housing construction support mechanism. I was just advocating that NZ needs to support its construction industry too so we do not A) repeat the GFC mistake and B) do not lose skilled construction workers to Australia because they provide industry support and we don’t.

        HomeStart grants last time I look were north of $100m/year. The Income Related Rent Scheme is about $1.5bn/year which pays about 2/3 of state housing costs (tenants rents pay the other third). The Accommodation Supplement is also about $1.5bn/year. This was increased by $500m in 2017 by Finance Minister Joyce but rent increases since 2017 have meant most of the benefit has gone to landlords not renters. KiwiBuild also had a $1bn fund from memory for 10 years so is another $100m/year. There is also funding for Housing First schemes to house the homeless.

        When you analyse all that you realise that the socio-economic group missing out on housing support is low income workers in private rental accommodation.

        Given the above and a few other points my preference is for the government to support the community housing sector with capital grants that fund up to 50% of the cost of housing. I would allocate something significant like $500m/year to build 3000 build-to-rent houses a year. The build-to-rents target market would be low-income workers by giving them a Living Rent option where they pay 30% or less of their income.

        The reason I would use the community housing sector rather than state housing is because there is not cross party agreement re state housing. Labour builds them. National sell them. This pattern prevents state housing providing housing assistance in the gap between the most vulnerable in society and first home buyers. There are hundreds of thousands of people in this gap. By using independent community housing providers this means the build-to-rents can provide a long term housing solution to the low-income worker socio-economic group.

        There would be lots of benefits of this scheme.
        1. A genuine housing supply mechanism supporting the construction industry, workers…
        2. Building affordable build-to-rents will contain future rent increases, which will assist workers not yet in owner-occupied housing -allowing them to retain productivity related income increases, which they can spend back into the economy…
        3. There is plenty of demand for affordable rentals unlike KiwiBuild which is too expensive to support a big uptake in construction numbers.
        4. It would create a large pool of institutional rental property managers that can set the standard for the private rental market wrt -repairs, maintenance, bond returns etc -based around a non-profit, long term rental yield covering costs business model. This would contrast with the private rental sector which often has a short term outlook, being small scale non-professional ‘mum and dad’ operations, with a capital gains business model.

        1. And Brendon, is this the right time to divert the accommodation supplement to more constructive uses?

          I agree we have a problem with Labour building the houses and National selling them.

          Now we need to figure out how to apply this thinking to brownfields development because our city footprints are already too large, and we have entire shoddy cities to regenerate.

    3. I agree with all your points except #2. The Australian construction subsidies are just middle-class welfare that only really help those who could already afford to build a house. Such a scheme should not be introduced here.

      The solution to weak construction demand (on point #1 I think the Covid Recession will be worse than the GFC, since the structural issues exposed by the GFC still haven’t been fixed) is for the government to step in with a relaunch of Kiwibuild (point #4).

      Kiwibuild failed because it was mostly trying to build detached houses on the urban fringe, no different to what private developers were already doing. There was talk but seemingly no attempt to leverage the government’s strengths by acquiring PT-adjacent land and building at scale, overriding sclerotic planning processes if need be. A Kiwibuild that did this could be truly successful.

      Unfortunately I’m not optimistic about government building a lot of houses in the next couple of years because to do this it would have had to already acquired the land, designed and consented the development. A bit like how the RoNS projects were meant to have helped NZ recover from the GFC but by the time most of them were being built the GFC was long since past.

      1. “The Australian construction subsidies are just middle-class welfare”

        Chaser.com.au had a post “Boomer uses subsidy to put a conservatory on his conservatory”

      2. I should have clearer re point no.2. I do support financial support being given to the construction sector. I don’t support Australia’s construction support mechanism. The point I meant to make was if NZ didn’t provide financial support for our construction industry we could lose workers to Australia. My following points were my attempted explanation for better support mechanisms.

        1. Fair enough. Although having a bit more time to think about it I don’t think we need to worry about losing skilled construction workers to Australia (more on that in a moment). We should worry about them being unemployed, as this will cause a long term damage to sector capacity (particularly for the people that won’t be able to get apprenticeships).

          The reason Australia won’t be poaching our construction workers is that their construction sector is probably in even bigger trouble than ours. The Australian housing market has similar characteristics to New Zealand but with more extreme property speculation. A lot of factors (expectations of capital gains, easy finance, inwards migration, AirBnB etc.) drove a boom in house construction. All the factors that drove that boom have evaporated because of Covid-19. Sure interest rates are now even lower but banks won’t necessarily be willing to lend. That will translate to a lot fewer houses being built. Even construction subsidies won’t be enough to prop the sector up.

        2. L-Bear you make a good argument. To add to your points the government has given extra funding to the free training of trades and apprenticeships. The construction industry could be a significant beneficiary of this scheme if there is enough construction work to go around.
          In a few years time when the apprentices are trained and hopefully NZ comes out of the recession the industry will be well placed ramp back up to full production.
          Maybe that should be my point no.2?

    4. On Point 9:

      The Hobsonville Pt 3 Bed/3 Level terraced homes should be held out as something we can achieve with pre-fabbing and rapid production. Reasonable density, good use of land, big enough to actually be used as a family home and with fantastic street frontage (small driveway where an EV can be charged). For my mind, this is what Kiwibuild needs to deliver, but in urban centres and along key transport routes, and ideally at far saner prices.

      1. +1 Lots to learn from Hobsonville. It got a lot of things right and it certainly doesn’t look like other bog-standard McMansion suburbs.

        1. Really need the transit to go with this building model though. Hobsonville is full of homes with small driveways with tthere other cars all parked on road and leading to heated conflict between residents.

        2. “Hobsonville is full of homes with small driveways with tthere other cars all parked on road and leading to heated conflict between residents.”

          I was thinking about this when I typed my post – the strange way Squadron Drive eventually becomes narrow side streets instead of a proper ring around the houses with a loop, while Hobsonville Pt Road is single-lane each way, directly to the ferry like it’s all that matters. It looks like it should have light rail down the middle, but instead it’s just got this weird ‘all comers’ approach with a massive median. I don’t really understand it, it certainly could have been so much better.

    5. Re 2 – the best support the government could provide to the construction sector is to commission mass building of AFFORDABLE as well as social housing.
      I am simply astounded that we haven’t heard anything from the government on this, although I have heard that the mysteriously vanished Unitec project might resurface….

  8. Over lockdown, I worked from home with 3 other desk-based working professionals in a two-bed flat. It was not enjoyable – and I blame housing.
    As a new-ish apartment by a ‘good’ developer, I thought it was a nice apartment to rent. It became obvious, very quickly, that it just isn’t designed to live in. Rather it is a super-efficient sleeping and eating shelter. The dining room is the kitchen and is the main circulation spine and all in a 3.5m width. The lounge fits one couch. Laundry is a cupboard. Bedrooms small with door/window/robe/bed taking each of its four walls. There is no space for desk no space for things, no space to *live*.
    With 4 working professionals sound/silence became very important. Poor internal sound insulation meant one call occupied the whole flats sound envelope. Calls had to be scheduled to avoid overlapping. Boiling the kettle had to be scheduled. I became an expert at making dinner without making noise. As one flatmate worked off the Australian timezone and the kitchen/dinning/lounge was still in ‘office’ mode well past 7pm. Dishwashing, clothes washing or any other appliance wasn’t allowed during working hours.
    We live next to the train (which fills my PT dream) but it is loud. Poor maintenance of the track and a gentle curve conspire to make noises I can only imagine blue whales make when mating. Closing windows is reasonably ok at softening this noise, however with 4 adult humans breathing, 4 computers overheating and the scheduled kettle the flat overheated. It got stuffy because windows couldn’t be opened because sound was so precious.
    Yes, we need to build more density, but it needs to be good with space for people to *live*. Kitchens big enough to make Gnocchi. Bedrooms with space for a bed AND desk. Hallways with little nooks for a desk or reading chair. We need sound insulation both to other flats and within the flat. More window that opening and considered landscaping to help with natural ventilation. I also think we need to be more nuanced with land use planning to put density next to amenity rather than just next to a busy road. Maybe its minimum apartment sizes (with the extra 10m2 mentioned in the blog), maybe is a more qualitative planning code.
    If we don’t get density right people will stick to the suburbs and work from home in their 5 bedroom McMansion.

    1. Clearly a standard two bedroom residential apartment (I’m guessing the Ockam building at Grafton?) wasn’t designed for four adults to live and work in at the same time. It probably wasn’t even intended that four adults would live there.

      Two bedroom apartments are targeted at two single dwellers, or one couple who want another room as a study, hobby room etc.

      I mean it’s a bit like having a three bedroom house with six people living and working in it around the clock and complaining that’s a bit crowded (and trust me, I know exactly what that is like right now).

      1. Its a two-bed and two-bath apartment, marketed for rent to 4 people.

        I think you will find that many people could not afford to live with just two incomes for a two-bed flat. Its indicative of the overal housing affodability and quality crisis. Average age of buying is above 30, that is a good decade of flatting for most so making sure there is a base level of quality is vital.

        1. Exactly Andrew. As with any City that has a housing crisis, houses no longer become what they were ‘built’ for. Garages weren’t made to sleep people, flat sharing shouldn’t be such a big thing as it is. We are charging over 1.2+ million for 1 and 2 bedroom apartments in Inner City suburbs in Auckland…loonacy.

        2. I understand the affordability issues, and the fact it might be marketed as a rental in a different way it was designed.

          But I’m just responding to the comment “It became obvious, very quickly, that it just isn’t designed to live in”.

          It was designed to live in… by one or two people who didn’t work there. It certainly wasn’t designed for four adults to live and work in, I’m sure the architects and developer of the building didn’t have that in mind when they designed it.

        3. As Nick says, a lot of the issues you mention seem to be a reflection of AKL’s housing shortage, rather than the apartment itself (although the noise issues are disappointing). A factor of there not being enough homes, or floorspace, to go around.

          The average Auckland household has 3 people, probably 2 adults and 1 child on average. For the city centre, the average household had 2 people in 2013.

          The issues you talk about are still real though – I’d certainly love to see apartments get a bit roomier, and more homes in general so we have more to choose from at a lower cost… that’s the goal, so how do we get there?

    2. I don’t enjoy working from home either. It might be okay for people who have a spare room in their house. But otherwise; it seems un-natural to bring my professional work to my personal space.
      I think many people might like the novelty of wearing their casual clothes and making their lunch on the spot at first. But after a while; it gets a bit claustrophic and alienating.

    3. Thanks for this, Andrew. The housing crisis is affecting so many people like this. That sounds really substandard.

      The number of new apartments needed is vast. It’s for all the people like you in crowded conditions, even if it’s a new apartment. As well as for all the people in unhealthy, damp homes, and the people in overcrowded poverty.

      This is why I believe urban form can be markedly changed in 10 years if we do it right. We’re not talking about the opportunity to put in new apartments in the inner areas and transport corridors just for the new population we might expect.

      If we are striving to ensure everyone has a healthy home in good proximity to amenities, we’re talking about a huge programme of building.

      That means we absolutely have the opportunity to change our urban form.

      Instead, in this emergency budget, Council are ramping up the selling of Council properties (as ‘asset recycling’ – otherwise known as the way NZ balances its books instead of achieving a sustainable economy) AND prioritising capital projects that lead to greenfields sprawl.

      When we look back at how Auckland responded to climate, the opportunity of 2020 will feature well. Whether we took it, or threw it away, is happening in real time.

      1. Heidi, the reason the inner suburbs are not transforming as you would like is because the houses are privately owned. They are people’s homes and lives, not an “opportunity” for council or developers.

        The UP cannot be forced, and neither should it. It enables very slow change over the very long term, but otherwise new homes will need to be on new land.

        As many are beginning to finally realise, Auckland is going to continue to go out, not up, as the norm of its expansion. The UP was never going to change that.

        In the news yesterday, significant development of Kaiwaka and Maungaturoto is now planned, complete with railway stations for both, for commuter trains between Maungaturoto and Auckland. This is how it should be – develop existing towns where there are no land constraints. I was surprised to see such growth slated for Maungaturoto, but interestingly, it’s quite a popular little spot for young people to move to.

        This is Auckland’s future – growing the satellite towns between Whangarei and Te Kuiti, and linking them with a motorway and a passenger rail service.

        1. Lol, commuter trains from Maungaturoto. It takes more than 50 minutes to get from Swanson to the CBD by train, how long is it going to take from Maungaturoto!

      2. Little boxes on the hillside
        Little boxes made of ticky tacky
        Little boxes Little boxes
        Little boxes all the same

    4. As much as I sympathise in a serious way with this lock-down story & the housing related issues; it sure would of made a good comedy sketch in the recent Dai’s House Party program.

  9. Despite the created shortage of housing across NZ; there’s still a chance that the NZ housing market may well collapse if the effects of the recession are harsh enough. Because people would have to sell their houses/default on their mortgages.

    Commercial property is going to take a hit.

  10. I would expect people locked inside Apartment during COVID would think about buying a bigger house.

    This make people to reconsider high density living and shared facility.

  11. State housing always looks expensive because since 1991 the government has calculated the cost as the difference between the likely market rent and what tenants pay. This takes no account of the rising value of the land for the Crown, or the future opportunity the Crown has to redevelop the land more intensively. Roads are carparking are not priced on a similar basis, and nor is land used for purposes such as education or conservation. In contrast, private rental accommodation is more expensive for the taxpayer than just the appropriated subsidies. This is because private landlords can use losses to reduce the taxes they pay on other income. There are also low obligations on private landlords to, in exchange for subsidies, increase the supply of good quality housing including redeveloping sites.

    1. This is because private landlords can use losses to reduce the taxes they pay on other income. Quote

      No they can’t. This income is ring fenced now.

      1. Yes, although the change has yet to take effect. More generally the rental sector doesn’t contribute to the tax base, even though the land housing is on is appreciating in value.

  12. Housing as a human right should also include “home ownership as a human right”. Home buyers, for the most part, are reliant upon the banks for getting into home ownership. It’s a system not of their doing, but it’s the only way. But those banks will discriminate on a long list of points, from the nature of your income to your relationship status. Nobody should have to “prove” they deserve to own a home.

    I would like to see the government legislate that if someone has 20% or more of the purchase price, and their repayments are no more than say, 30-40% of their income, then the banks must approve a home loan if they wish to do business in New Zealand.

    1. Agree it’s a human right, not sure what your point is though. It would be very rare for a bank to decline a mortgage with 20 % equity and an mortgage payments less than 40 % of income. Even if that is the case you are effectively saying it’s not a human right if you have less than 20 % equity or mortgage payments are more than 40 %.

      The solution to making housing a human right is to ensure stability of tenancy and ensuring we build enough public housing for everyone who can’t own a home or get a private rental.

    2. Maybe a roof over the head should be a human right.
      But actually owning property of any kind should be an earned privilege.

      I’m not sure if it should be an inherited privilege though…

  13. I am pretty bored of the housing debate.
    The answer is simple. The government needs to build much more housing. The private sector never will, nor can, build affordable housing.
    We’ve had neo- liberal smokescreens masking this fact for decades.
    Liberal planning regulation, is certainly one pre-requisite…

  14. Regarding working from home – I have recently shifted into a new suburb where four bedroom houses are the norm, with the fourth bedroom often being used as an office. My new house, by Jalcon, actually had a special office space included in the plans.

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