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More than half the new homes consented last year were stand alone houses, less than 10% were apartments

More than half the new homes consented last year were stand alone houses, less than 10% were apartments

The average size of houses, townhouses and apartments being built in New Zealand hasn't changed much over the last 30 years, but the mix of homes being built has changed a lot.

There is a common misconception that fewer stand alone houses are being built than in the past, as a move to intensification sees more multi-unit dwellings such as apartments and terrace houses being built.

But that's only partially true.

We are certainly building more multi-unit developments, however stand alone houses are as popular as they have ever been.

According to Statistics NZ, over the last 30 years the number of building consents issued for new stand alone houses peaked in at 22,414 in 2003, then declined steadily to 11,112 in 2011. It has since risen back up to 22,212 in 2020, almost unchanged from the 22,269 issued in 2019.

That means stand alone houses are not just popular, they remain the most popular type of new home being built in this country, accounting for 56.3% of all new dwelling consents issued in 2020.

However stand alone houses accounted for 83.7% of new homes consented 10 years ago. So while they are as popular as ever, most of the growth in new housing that has occurred over the last 10 years has come from other types of housing.

Not only are we building as many stand alone houses as ever, they aren't getting any smaller either.

Thirty years ago the average size of new stand alone houses consented was 153 square metres.

In 2020 it was 192 square metres. The 30 year average was 199 square metres.

So the change in average size over that time is probably less than 5%.

What probably has changed over the last 30 years is that houses are probably more likely to be spread over two levels and on smaller sections than they used to be, particularly in major urban centres.

There is also a popular belief that more and more of us are living in apartments and that those apartments are getting smaller.

But things are not quite what they seem on the apartment front either.

Last year consents were issued for 3739 new apartments, which was just 9.5% of all new dwelling consents.

That was down from the 4762 new apartments consented in 2019 which was 12.7% of all new dwelling consents, and well below the peak of 6143 apartments consented in 2004, which accounted for 19.5% of all new dwelling consents that year.

And on average, apartments don't appear to be getting noticeably smaller.

The average size of apartments consented last year was 104 square metres, compared to the 30 year average of 109 square metres, so any reduction in space has been minor.

The type of housing that has had the biggest impact on our housing landscape over the last 30 years has been low rise, multi-unit dwellings such as terrace houses and home units.

Since 2012 the number of townhouses/units being consented has increased by more than 1000%, rising from 1100 in 2012 to 11,603 in 2020, accounting for 29.3% of all new homes consented in 2020.

Although that's still below the number of stand alone houses being consented, they are catching up fast.

The average size of new townhouses/units has declined over the last few years, but not by much.

Their average size last year was 110 square metres, compared to 118 square metres over the last 30 years.

Those figures all suggest that while the mix of housing types that are being built is changing, the average size of the different types of properties within the mix isn't changing that much.

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People don't like being packed like sardines into extremely overpriced and shoddily built apartments with crooked body corporates.

The Government must take the lead. We need 100,000 state houses built for lifetime income-related rent for all who want them. And sure, let them be small, densely situated terrace houses and multistorey apartment blocks close to main traffic routes. But the Government must own them, not put them in the hands of crooked bodies corporate.


Building 100,000 homes for druggies to live in.. for life, get real!

If you want a house for life - buy one. If you can't buy one maybe stop voting for socialists and crony capitalists.

Of all the slum-lords in NZ, the government are probably the worse. Enjoy your neighbours for life.

Social workers put vulnerable young people or mentally ill in with drug pushers and ex cons and wonder why there are sexual assaults, suicides

I didn’t know there was any other choice to vote for.

Such stereotyping and misinformation is not at all helpful.

The poor deserve better than being housed in tightly packed govt owned rabbit hutches.

We are in 2021 where everyone deserves to live with dignity.

JohnT..yeah 100 000 new houses, that will offset about 2 or 3 years of immigration once the borders reopen.

People don't mind smaller dwellings as long as they have high build standards, the problem is we have bet everything on one horse relying just on the private building sector, which as you would expect, is building whatever gives them the highest return, which are "luxury" apartments which are unaffordable for most, and low quality townhouses and standalone houses not as many owner occupiers as they may think are really asking for.
Many families would move to non-luxury but good build quality 3 bedroom apartment within half an hour drive from their workplace, but this just does not give the proper return to private builders, so it does not exist in this twisted market. The public sector should take the lead and show the way, we already have an oversupply in some sectors of the market and it is just getting worse.

You presume to speak for "people" where is your evidence that this type of dwelling is widely acceptable. Based on the support in the market it is patently obvious that there is at best limited support. The governments first trials of Kiwibuild fitted the well built shoe box model and was a total flop.
How would you like to raise three kids in a 70m2 apartment without a garage, work from home. Where do you store the stuff that most kiwis like. The car you are doing up, the jet ski, all your fishing gear, kids bikes and scooters, the camping gear, luggage cases, computer and homework desks. Where in the dwelling can you get away to concentrate or from screaming kids or your grumpy partner. In a pandemic you are in a vertical petri dish.
Look at the tower block accommodation in the UK, USSR etc - vertical slums. they appear to offer a very limited and diminished lifestyle full of stresses that you don't need in an already stressful world. Even in the very rigged market no body has managed to produce significant quantities of these types of dwellings that are widely accepted. If you think you can, go fill your boots. You will make a fortune?
With reference to urban sprawl, two things. If we don't want pressure on housing and urban sprawl, stop importing people. These problems get worse the bigger the city is. It seems that the greater the size of a city is the less manageable and less efficient they get. The problems seem to increase exponentially and lifestyle diminished accordingly. We need more smaller cities if we are are going to accommodate an increasing population. Everything concentrated in Auckland is just plain stupid. The place just does not work. If I had a significant business there I would be moving out as per Sleepyheads proposed shift. Further all our risks are placed in one very rickety basket. How would the whole nation be effected if a large and violent eruption occurred in the center of Auckland (there is plenty of volcanic history in Auckland). It could make the Christchurch earthquakes look like a picnic.

not everyone is bringing up kids, in fact the majority of people aren’t. Yeah it might not suit everyone but a lot of people do actually like living near others, having shops pubs parks and cafes in walking distance, etc.
really we need more centred in Auckland not less. There are a lot of benefits to big cities hence why companies normally gravitate to them.

Even childless people have a lot of stuff. Arguable they have the time and money to pursue a wider range of activities and have more demand for storing their "toys"
I suspect the number of people who would happily chose the zen like void that apartments offer would be a very limited percentage of our population. I also suspect that many who do chose apartments, do so because the lack of options force them.

Yes, and when they quote apartment size, they don't include basement storage that many come with, plus the growth of off-site storage facilities is directly related to the growth in the apartment market when people downsize. These costs are not included in the cost of owning an apartment when they should be.

I just talk by own experience as well as the feedback I have collected for quite some years.

You choose to leave out of your examples those places where public housing has been a total success an contributed to stability and quality of life of the city residents, which are many. An example of a sensible implementation, one of many, is Vienna.

Korea does apartments well as most of the housing is apartments. Only the poor live in standalone buildings, with primitive sanitation. The high rise apartments are for families - 2 apartments per floor, 2-3 bedroom, large living areas that can entertain over a dozen guests. The low rise apartments are studios, 4 per floor, shoebox kitchen and bathroom and fine for 1 person. On street parking.

You just have to accept 25 storey high rise apartments. I remember my first sight of it, I asked my friend what city it was we could see from the highway - it wasn't the edge of a city, it was a whole town. 10 apartment buildings. Done.

There was a warning on this site not so long ago by insurers concerning the complexities of multi unit housing, without attendant body corporates. However body corporates can be a double edged sword. The convoluted and fractious outcomes that afflicted EQ claimants in Canterbury is due testament to the perils. Even the old fashioned ownership flat set up, you know one on either side, garages in the middle, presented dire problems when one was written off by their insurer, but no so for the insurer of the other. Even standalone properties sharing a long-standing access easement found themselves in conflict, with each other, insurers and the city council.The EQs also exposed some dire and draconian outcomes for residents in retirement villages who found out the hard way, that they didn’t own or have, any where near the rights they though they did. Moral of the story, avoid anything other than your own property under its own unencumbered certificate of title.

Town houses are great options for those who are on a tighter budgets and I think they will be first choice properties for FHBs soon.

Historically, the number of consents issued tracks the rises and falls of the growth in house prices- higher prices attracts higher consent numbers. If we want higher number of consents, prices must rise to make it happen.

Saying that, there is still room for upward valuation in home prices.

FHB should be quick or they may have to opt for apartments once town houses become the next hot item.


You are absolutely right there Clown World.

A shoebox terrace with no outdoor space or car parking for a million dollars is perfect for those FHB on tighter budgets, who really feel that need to be shackled to a lifetime of debt servitude for a mediocre existence in the up and coming slums of the future out in the arse end of nowhere.

Higher consents are a means to an end, but lower prices are the goal of course. Prices must fall to make it happen. Saying that, there is still plenty of room for downward valuation in home prices.

Specufestors should be quick to sell before the best and brightest flee overseas in droves or they may have to opt for mortgagee sales to the minimum wage workers that remain.

A lot of commentary on online property forums discussing locking in 5 year terms on their mortgage..maybe some are waking up to all this nonsense?

Actually it's good that people are willing to seek greener pastures, it also helps to improve the average IQs for all countries.

Is that a take on the famous Robert Muldoon quote CWBW ?

You're sharp.

Imagine being so low-IQ that you think the best and brightest leaving somehow improves average IQ.

Comedy gold.

Brock, your anger makes you blind to the situation that is. CW's post is spot on. You say "Prices must fall", well yes it would be great for those who haven't bought yet if prices were to fall, similarly it would be terrible for those who bought recently if prices were to fall. But, notwithstanding what will happen this year or next, we all know (even you and b21) that prices will rise over the long term, and that's exactly what home ownership is, (wether stand alone, townhouse or apartment), it's a long term investment, say 25 years. And in 25 years, today's prices will look really, really cheap and the young generation then will look back at 2021 and say, these guys were so lucky, apartments were so cheap back then, I can't afford one now!

Yvil... tried to explain that to my friend in Tokyo. He laughed at me and asked if that was my Irish sense of humour.

The house price in the main part of Tokyo is rising steadily. In fact, probably seen over 30% increase from the covid crisis.
Tokyo is huge, some part is of rural characteristics, where young people left for the city job and left emptied houses causing the sharp price fell.
In real Tokyo, you would be extremely lucky to get a one-bed apartment paid under 1,000 NZD a week.

I think there is equal probability that people will look back in 25 years and say what the %@#$ was everyone thinking (and not in a good sense).

We all know (even you Yvil and the housing market cheerleaders) that prices will drop short term. How long will take for them to reach new highs, we'll see. In the meantime a lot of ill-advised buyers may get into troubles stuck with a house which mortgage is higher than its value so please let's be careful with what we all say.

Is that you "Houses Overpriced", "Retired Poppy", and so, so, so many more on Interest that have been calling for house prices to tumble for many, many, many years. They have all disappeared, gone, vanished…

"The sky is blue"
"no it's not, it's grey when it's cloudy"
"Yep but generally, overall we can see that the sky is blue"
"no it's not, it's black at night time"
"well OK but it's generally agreed that the sky is blue at day time, it's been like that for a long time"
"no I don't accept that, because the sky has been blue in the past, it doesn't mean it'll be blue in the future"
"OK then, my sky is blue and sunny, you can have the grey, polluted rainy sky"

Please share some of the conspiracy stuff you are taking but stay away from giving advice and leave us all out of your obsessions.

Is that really the best counterpoint you can come up with? Really ???

I wish I had listened to Yvil's advice.

We have no idea what the world will look like, or house prices, in 25 years.
My hunch is they will be higher than now, and perhaps significantly so.
But I don't think we will see the boom of the past repeated.The gulf between incomes and house prices is higher than it's ever been , and interest rates are lower than they have ever been.

Disgust is an emotion that is quite distinct from anger.

Let's take a closer look at your platitudes.

Prices will rise over the long term for townhouses and apartments? You might have a point for land on a very long timescale, but buildings depreciate. The shoddily built shoebox townhouse or apartment you throw 1.1 million dollars at today might not be the smartest investment move when it becomes a dated old dump in 25 years.

Now in the long term everybody is dead. But given the reserve banks mandate to pursue a 2% CPI inflation target we only have $1 today being equivalent to $1.64 in 25 years. So it would actually only take a 39% drop in real house prices over 25 years to have them at exactly the same nominal price as today. Given that Auckland is currently the fourth most overpriced city on earth in one of the least populated countries on earth, with generations of kiwis pissed off about the housing situation going to sweep through the halls of power I would call your advice deeply questionable.

OK, Brock, let's say "your disgust makes you blind to the situation that is" then.

"given the reserve banks mandate to pursue a 2% CPI inflation target we only have $1 today being equivalent to $1.64 in 25 years. So it would actually only take a 39% drop in real house prices over 25 years to have them at exactly the same nominal price as today"

Do you want to give this sentence some more thought? It didn't make sense

What part don't you understand?

CPI inflation is 64% over 25 years. So a 39% drop in real house prices by 2046 results in the same nominal price as today.

Town houses have already been a hot item in Auckland for several years. They can be great, or terrible, depending on design and building execution. The same as standalone homes, or apartments at the other end of the spectrum.
We live in a recent townhouse development, apart from one or two things it is excellent. One of the best things is the sense of community that has been fostered by the excellent urban design. Interestingly, that is aided significantly by a community Facebook page. It's awesome.

I know what you mean. That's why people need to have an open mind when getting a place of their own. The tension only comes when expectations and reality are too wide for FHBs. Even apartments that are well built and maintained are good options.

Apartments can be amazing options. Obviously high end ones can be amazing, but there are some good (and not so good) options at the lower end of the market too. But not cheap.

At the moment apartments are still very cheap compared to houses.

But it's not an apples with apples comparison.
Yes you can buy 1 bedrooms for circa 500k, and that will suit some people fine. But not people with a family, or one on the way.
There are very few 3 bedroom apartments for less than 800k.

Can you still consider it a standalone house if you can open your kitchen window and hand your neighbour a beer who is also standing in his kitchen?

Why not if it sits on its own freehold. Such arrangements progresses the community spirit which is sorely lacking in this country.

I think those neighbourhoods of free standing houses that are packed in like sardines seem to be the worst of both worlds: none of the privacy and section size of suburbia and none of the community and walk ability that comes with density. Each to their own I guess.

More like ask the neighbour if they can hand you some toilet paper.

The misconception comes from the fact that more Kiwis, especially those that immigrated in the past few decades are more willing to live in smaller dwellings, however builders keep focusing on larger ones since those are the ones they make the most profit with, even though demand might be in decline. Without proper planning and relying purely in private initiative we ended up with an oversupply of large homes nobody is asking nor afford to buy anymore.

While considering purchasing a peace of ground to build on I drew up a number of house designs between 140 and 152m2 which had three bedrooms an en suite and an extra large, about 40-43m2, double garage included. Perfectly adequate for a family of four and even five with two sharing or reducing the oversized double garage and incorporating a 4th bedroom. Many single residential standalone houses are plus 175m2 and more likely closer to 200m2 as developers don't make sufficient off lower m2 houses and covenants frequently specify a house cost tied to a price index which preclude a smaller house.
I can also simpathise with Aucklanders as I understand RMA and BC cost are variable depending on how much time the council official/s estimate it will take to approve building consent, even on a standalone residential house. This is a recipe for guilding the lily. I wouldn't be surprised if Akl's council RMA and BC department are a tidy profit center. Perhaps someone with more intimate knowledge of Akl's RMA and BC costs can confirm.

Its not so much the size of the house but the section.
My house,fully fenced keeps my dog in others out,kept my kids in and others out,big enough for a cricket pitch and a game of bull rush and still have room for a lemon tree,a mandarin tree,grapefruit tree and a tree for climbing.
The young of today are missing out on backyard play.

You allow your children to play outdoors, hit and catch balls and climb trees and bull rush. Bizarre.
( Bull rush what a magical school event, not knowing whether you had made the other end by stealth and speed and agility, or had merely been set up for the following crushing )

Bullrush was one of the best games ever invented. When I was at primary school it was either bullrush or Maori v pakeha at rugby. Those truly were the good old days.

KK... bullrush is no doubt banned in NZ schools now. Some wannabe victim probably made a fashionable statement about how they still remain emotionally traumatized by suffering the extreme humiliation of being chosen to run first.
After returning from overseas I still haven't got used to the stink of PC that has pervaded almost every inch of NZ. In this weeks Listener there is even some washed up ex-comedian complaining about being the butt (pun intended) of a few jokes at a comedy show. How wrong and inappropriate for this comedian to interact and joke with him during the show without his express permission and approval he whines. And of course he did not miss out on (the ever-present) bonus PC points by bringing weight, ethnicity and sexuality into his virtue signalling speel. Man up or stay away from stand up comedies Aroha Awarau.

Yep bullrush is banned and I am sure they would not now allow Maori v pakeha. We had only one family in the school who was neither Maori nor pakeha - they were half Japanese. It caused a few debates as their dad was white but they did not look white. The Maoris started arriving at 8.30 to build up a big lead before most of the pakeha kids arrived so soon all the boys were getting to school when the gates opened at 8.30.

I heard there's a popular game played in the Beehive called 'Bullshit'

It's still a great first home option. Banks are currently awash with customer deposits to lend so its a good time to buy..

Well of course a stand alone house is the preferred option but they're getting increasingly expensive. So it makes sense that townhouses are getting more popular. Townhouses are the next best option for people who can't afford a stand alone house. Make no mistake, this is a trend that will continue (I mean long term, not what is happening over this and the next couple of years) and we will reach a point in the future where houses will be for the rich only, townhouses will become too expensive for many and a new trend towards "nice" apartment living will become more common.

Interesting article Greg, thanks. I would love to see figures for Auckland only, I think they will be even more tilted towards townhouses as prices are higher than the rest of NZ.

Interesting to note the Arrival vs Departure numbers from Customs March 2020 to Feb 2021. Approx 127k loss of people through the borders.
Mar 20 - 310k vs 373k
Apr 20 - 6k vs 32k
May 20 - 5k vs 10k
Jun 20 - 9k vs 15k
Jul 20 - 9k vs 18k
Aug 20 - 11k vs 14k
Sep 20 - 11k vs 15k
Oct 20 - 12k vs 13k
Nov 20 - 11k vs 13k
Dec 20 - 12k vs 17k
Jan 20 - 13k vs 14k
Feb 20 - 12k vs 13k

Immigration NZ still issued new visas and permanent residents permits, that didn't stop because the border closed.

Broadly speaking it appears they still managed half the normal volume so next year we might reasonably expect about 1.5x the normal rate of immigration as that backlog clears next year when borders reopen. I'm therefore picking the pressure on housing to be immense in 2022.

Those are people that neither arrived nor left the country so doesn't change the fact we are losing population. Is that good for the housing market? Yes, less demand should mean lower prices and better affordability.

The best and brightest will be fleeing New Zealand in droves when the borders open.

How are they as ‘popular as ever’ if the relative market share is falling progressively and markedly? Absolute numbers mean absolutely nothing.

It’s a bit sad how some people live like that in NZ. Personally can’t give up garage as I like to keep my cars inside and safe. Also I enjoy privacy as I don’t like to open the windows and straight away having to make eye contact with the neighbours or listening to next door conversations.

If we knew how to build decent three level houses you could have a high-stud double on the bottom with a decent two-level three bedder on top, or even a three-level townhouse perched on a decent workshop space. But we don't do that, because we don't know how. I'd kill for a 140sqm townhouse ontop a double-garage workshop with higher than normal stud. Sign me up.

The Wood Processors Association has been at the government for years to update the timber framed building over 3 levels standard (NZS3603? - 1993). It's hopelessly out of date and doesn't take into account technological increases such as laminated veneer lumber that increase strength etc. That makes it expensive to build as everything is effectively bespoke due to the outdated standard.

Galling even more so once you realise pre-fabs overseas are regularly delivered with up to five levels for townhouses. The things we could do if any of this really mattered to the people who have the power to change things...

We love high density living. As long as someone else is living in those small units and preferably in different suburb. Just ask Helen Clark!

"Thirty years ago the average size of new stand alone houses consented was 153 square metres. In 2020 it was 192 square metres. The 30 year average was 199 square metres."
Your calculations don't take into account the change in building fashion. 30 years ago we were still building plenty of houses with standalone garages. Now for single unit dwellings the fashion is to add a double internal access garage, which is about 36 m2. I suspect we're building more smaller houses which are counterbalancing the 220 m2 larger houses which we are still building.