We need a lot of new houses in Christchurch.
But, we're still exporting houses:
And, we've hardly started building replacements:This red-zoned Burwood house will be the first of 50 an Auckland businessman will roll out of Christchurch on a truck from this weekend.Quake Proof Solutions director Gary Muir is recycling and relocating red-zoned homes to minimise demolition waste and fill housing shortages in the South Island.He is moving his first two to Gore, but anywhere is possible. In the next year, he plans to move at least 50 houses.''Wherever someone wants a house, that's where we'll put it, " he said. "We're looking to move as many as we can."Insurers and the Earthquake Commission have deemed at least 6000 homes too costly to repair.Insurance companies needed the land cleared for rebuilding but instead of demolishing, sold them to Mr Muir to take away."This is mutually beneficial, " Mr Muir said. "We can recycle about 90 per cent of a house, for half the cost of rebuilding."It's either this, or we put a bulldozer through the middle of it."Cheap land, resource consents and stable sections were easier to find outside Christchurch. But Mr Muir would try and make any site work, even in the city...."We've had a lot of paperwork stoppages, " he said. "Every day they're changing the documents."...He was one of the lucky few to gain accreditation for red-zone house removals. It took him 13 months to get the tick of approval for his first project. [emphasis added]
The first three months of this year saw local councils issue consents for just 60 new homes in the region, double the 30 issued in the last quarter of 2011, according to Statistics New Zealand.We have to be careful to distinguish between the Stats NZ series on earthquake-related new building, cited above, with the total number of new dwelling units approved: Christchurch City had 1271 new dwelling units approved in total from April 2011 through April 2012, the most recent available stats. But it can take a while for approvals to turn into houses.
Between the first quakes in September 2010 and the end of April this year, consents for 152 quake-related rebuilds were issued in Canterbury, as well as 149 consents for portable homes in temporary villages....The total number of homes needing to be rebuilt in Canterbury will depend on how many insurers deem uneconomic to repair, and these will join red- zoned homes and dangerous dwellings already brought down on the rebuild list.Breaking down the consent data for permanent earthquake rebuilds month by month does show a shaky but upward trend:2011 May 5 June 8 July 8 August 5 September 4 October 13 November 10 December 6 2012 January 17 February 24 March 16 April 17
It really isn't hard to connect the dots from Council taking way too long to allow more subdivisions to current housing shortages.
Meanwhile, Environment Canterbury is barring people from installing logburners in rebuilt homes. ECan has been moving for a while to reduce the number of logburners in town in order to reduce the smoky smog that can sit over town in winter; you're not allowed to put logburners in new houses, but houses with existing logburners can keep and update them. Newer low-emission burners are supposed to be only a few years away; ECan might let people start putting those in when they're available. But, until then, you're barred.
I can understand ECan worrying that manufacturers might not be in a hurry to release worse-performing but lower emission logburners if they can still sell the old ones. But I would have thought the better way to keep the incentives straight would be to mandate the stricter standard only when some manufacturer brought a new compliant burner to market. That manufacturer, or importer, would then have a temporary monopoly. It would take a little while longer for older burners to cycle out of use and for emission levels to drop off, but we need also to put some value on the security of supply a logburner provides when earthquakes or heavy snow can knock the power out.
The Press's editorial nails this one:
Why not just deem on-site earthquake rebuilds to be a continuation of the existing consent for ECan purposes?The earthquakes have provided an opportunity to hasten the phasing out of inefficient woodburners which ECan has taken by sticking to the policy it has had since 2002 of not permitting woodburners in new homes.This means that ECan is refusing to allow homeowners who had a woodburner and whose homes have been destroyed by the quakes to install another one in any new home they build. For many with access to a supply of cheap woodfuel the policy risks adding additional financial hardship to the many others they are already facing.ECan said last week that its policy could change in future but this would not be until ultra-low emission woodburners were developed. That is not likely to happen for several years. As a practical concession to present problems it is useless.Even the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, recognises the inadequacy of ECan's response....Something other than continuing the ban adopted before the earthquakes would show that ECan truly understands that circumstances have changed.
People with destroyed houses are caught by pre-quake regs that sought to slow any urban expansion; those able to rebuild are caught between pre-quake regs designed to slowly phase out logburners and power prices that keep ramping up as building new hydroelectric power dams for lower cost power supply seems effectively banned. It'll be interesting to see what power prices look like in a dry winter after everyone's switched to heat pumps if we've not increased supply.