Tauranga firm launches new affordable housing concept

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The founders of Bay-based Golden Homes – one of New Zealand’s largest privately owned residential building companies – have launched a new company targeting the country’s housing shortage.

Len and Jill Helms have launched a new company, Ubuilt, a self-starter new kitset home, which they say can be produced in volumes of up to 10,000 homes a year.

Golden Homes has already built thousands of homes across New Zealand.  Len Helms said that the new Ubuilt concept could be easily scaled up because they owned the New Zealand-based factories that produce the frames, and the company that sells ZX Panel, a new non-combustible aluminium panel cladding system.

The kitsets, which range from $49,667 for a 45sq m house to $85,471 for 103sq m, would be constructed at a factory the couple had owned for about five years in Hewletts Rd. The Helms own the supply chain with 50 staff already employed and said staff numbers were likely to climb.

The exterior of the homes come in 400 possible colour combinations.  All Ubuilt kitset homes can only be ordered online, and the company said they could be delivered in New Zealand within 20
working days.

Helms has spent 40 years in the building industry and said it was a complex exercise bringing Ubuilt together at the offered pricing, especially considering the parts were mainly New Zealand-made.

“We wanted to bring a beautiful home to the market that you would be proud to live in without compromising value and quality,” he said.

“We designed these homes so the buyers could assemble their Ubuilt with a qualified builder.  If you already have a section and a builder, then from the time you receive your Ubuilt to completion could be as little as eight weeks. We have designed the homes so you can build your place, at your pace – but for many there is an urgency, as they need somewhere to live.”

Helms has proposed that the government and iwi consider leasing land to Kiwis, so they could erect Ubuilt homes.

“In this way they could quickly offer New Zealanders a warm and stylish home to raise their family and a mortgage that would be cheaper than rent.”

The leasing approach for the land could enable banks to provide small or zero deposit loans, or they could use their Kiwisaver, he said.

“There is no problem too big, you just have to be creative.”

Ubuilt houses were designed to maximise the space inside and felt much bigger than they were, he said. The target market would be people on limited budgets, or those wanting to put an extra home on their property, build a bach or build a sturdy investment property.

“All Ubuilt home designs come with double glazed thermally broken aluminium windows and quick to construct ZOG Steel Framing, which is stronger, straighter and significantly lighter than traditional timber.”

Houses can be viewed online at ubuilt.co.nz or at the Mount Maunganui showhome by prior appointment.

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