Future Proof Housing:

A Twenty Degree Home — An Eight Richter Home — A Carbon-Zero Home?

“The French government is poised to pass a law that stipulates that new public buildings will have to be built from 50 per cent biobased materials from 2022. “ quote from Is the construction industry set to embrace mass timber?


The success of housing policy reforms is very much dependent on whether it results in good quality housing or not. Reforms to New Zealand’s Building Act in the 1990s failed this test, leading to the leaky homes crisis which cost over $10bn to remedy.

Overseas Examples

Around the world one of the most exciting responses to unaffordable housing and climate change concerns has been the building of highly energy efficient, warm, dry and well ventilated social housing.

The 583-acre Stockholm Royal Seaport redevelopment adjacent to the city core. (Flickr / Norra Djurgårdsstaden)

Preventing housing financial assistance from being regressive

A difficulty for implementing a housing construction subsidy is it would be highly regressive as the construction industry mainly builds for the top end of the market. It would be like giving a tax cut to high income earners but not low and middle income earners.

Source: Revitalising the production of lower value homes: Researching dynamics and outcomes by Kay Saville-Smith Fig 3. Which had updated data from the original Productivity Commission graph from 2012 -Fig 0.6

How would a Construction Future Proof Fund Work?

Instead of giving an interest free loan like the German scheme, New Zealand’s Construction Future Proof Fund could distribute grants to eligible households up to the value of $25,000. This would be based on the assessed energy efficiency, seismic strengthening and carbon sequestering merits of the new builds.

What are the Cost/Benefit Considerations of the Construction Future Proof Fund?

Some market purists will say this is a subsidy for house construction, but it is a much smaller subsidy compared to the accommodation supplement payments to tenants and landlords which totals $1.5 billion a year.

New Zealand bedroom temperatures are consistently below the OECD recommended levels. This is a significant cause of respiratory illness, hospitalisation, school and work absences. Source (P.43)

What About Reducing Seismic Risk?

A similar approach could be taken to future proof seismic risk. The New Zealand building code constructs buildings to a standard that protects life but not the building itself, which post-quake often means the building has to be demolished. Buildings though could be constructed to survive earthquakes with only a little extra expenditure.

Economic Benefits

When I first wrote this paper I wrote the following paragraph suggesting the construction fund could be useful in an economic downturn. Covid-19 means the downturn has arrived and now the fund has gone from ‘a good to have’ to an ‘essential to have’.

Underbuilding can be seen from 2008 to 2015 , when New Zealand’s building rate halved -from a long-term average of about 6, down to 3 dwellings per 1000 residents
How America Spends Money: 100 Years in the Life of the Family Budget



A collection of essays about cities, housing, land, the built environment, and transport which collectively make the case for New Zealand to implement a wide ranging urbanisation project

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Brendon Harre

When cities erect barriers that make it harder to build houses, I think this is landowners lobbying lawmakers so they can earn without toil.