How San Francisco is building affordable housing, fast, to catch up on a long-established backlog

How San Francisco is building affordable housing, fast, to catch up on a long-established backlog

Offsite Construction FINAL CUT from Cut Canvas Creative on Vimeo.

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Modular and cheap kitset makes a lot of practical sense in NZ. So geologically active that we have to accept that the whole housing stock is likely to be catastrophically written off within the space of a few centuries. But it has to be appropriately priced for disposability and easy replacement.

The real obstacle here is that real estate NIMBYism has become a kind of warped religion, and we have a nation of Hyacinth Buckets who will prevent any practical reform, and insist on continuing what we do now - sub kitset quality and shoddy materials at premium prices.

Japan have similar challenges, on a much greater scale, so it'd be odd if they didn't have products and technologies we could use. If Hyacinth would just get out of the way.

Looks like a modern multi storey prison
This is NOT the way to do housing
Take the best old street in SF and add 4 floors and that's what I am living in with gardens and parks everywhere. Cross demographic affordable living at just $260 a week for 1200sqft including water & heat & 1X under ground heated car park
Why am I moving then ? Just bought a place in the country which would make Aucklanders cry

There have been a few attempts at modular building here. It's not easy and there has to be a business case for establishing a factory to get the benefits of mass production.

Actually, the biggest hurdle to modular housing in Auckland is the Council. I have a good friend who is in the midst of trying to get modular apartments build in Auckland, the Council does not want to approve it because it doesn't want to take on responsibility if the units end up defective (i.e. leaky etc...) It has been attempted before but no one has been able to put it past the council

That's quite concerning that Auckland Council is the problem. Not surprising given the hostile building consent processing environment that MBIE created from 2013 onwards. There are ways to tackle the processing issues but it can be costly and time consuming. It can take years to correct the behaviour of a Council.

We have had modular apartments built down here in the Hawkes Bay.
While it may seemingly make sense, the local feeling is that the apartments were built as cheaply as possible and have a poor reputation for quality. Reselling has consequently been an issue for many of those who bought early.
I can fully understand the Auckland City Council being hesitant and most likely rightly so as the potential for problems for profit driven developers is fraught with financial liability for the Council. As is often the case the developers quickly disappear once the buildings are completed and prior to on the onset of problems such as leaky building syndrome becoming apparent.
Developers may find these sentiments harsh, but that is the perception that commonly exists.

Auckland can't afford it.

San Francisco practices SMART growth, which is an American ideal some of their cities adopt to create compact cities. SMART cities prevent suburban development which makes their land expensive, but they use the money they would have spent on developing suburbs on subsidising intensive development and overcome the cost of the land. The shown mode of development is made possible because San Fran can afford to subsidise it.

Other cities in America practice expansive growth, which subsidises suburban sprawl and thus lowers the cost of land to encourage growth. There is a wide debate occurring as to which is the better system.

Auckland doesn't do SMART growth and doesn't do Expansive growth. There isn't a name for what Auckland does*. Like SMART growth Auckland prevents suburban growth, which makes our land expensive. However Auckland builds ever larger exurban sprawl developments, which cost way more than the suburbs Auckland has banned.

End result Auckland can't afford to build SMART, because Auckland builds more sprawl the most expansive of cities.

* Actually there are several accurate descriptive names for what Auckland does, but this a family friendly website and so on.

Smart growth, as it's oxymoronically called creates high prices and shortages where ever it's done in the world.

The UK, some parts of the states, Vancouver, Auckland...

It sounds good on paper: Get everyone living in a compact area, using public transport.... But it's a utopian vision that leads to dystopian outcomes.

Building upwards is waaaaaay more expensive than building outwards. So we're left with 3 choices, either curb immigration, or build outwards, or build upwards and have really high prices and shortages.

Don't really need to build upwards. London has far more density than Auckland and it's mostly only two stories high. We need more terraced housing and small sections which should be a lot cheaper than our normal houses. Even a lot more subdividing is possible if some of the rules (eg must have driveway and parking) are relaxed.

I agree, with the terraced housing and sections. But they need to be better designed houses. Quite frankly we don't need 300m2 4x2 houses with multiple living areas, triple garages and expansive hallways bigger than many small island nations.

Simple plans, simple but usable yard, a small bit of off street parking (lets face it you will always need a car of some description)

Despite what many believe, it's not hard - Europe has been doing it for centuries.

Everywhere's been doing it for centuries. What every real city has, and we don't, is those whole neighbourhoods of solid 3 to 6 story apartments, and row/terrace houses. Price you pay for only hitting those population levels after the motor car, I suppose. Enough space for a family, not huge wasted expanses.

If you take a Google Earth tour through places like Camden, New Jersey, their boarded-up slums are better quality than we're putting up now.

Jim bo NoCents & Kakapo All of you are 100% right
Low rise terrace housing preferably rental with water & heat/air con included is a norm where I live & parks abound. Why Auckland has failed to do this goes back to policies that fail to collect taxation on property sales and a social benefit rates system that loads very little rating burden on the richer suburbs if property valuations are taken into account. Been that way forever because the Remmerites complain and have power in high places Quality affordable terrace housing for renters is done everywhere else & yet Auckland can only build quick leaky terrace housing. It's frankly ridiculous because I was in the trade all my life & there's no excuse but bad policy decisions both local & govt

"Building upwards is waaaaaay more expensive than building outwards. "

True, but what about the massive savings in infrastructure.

Also we don't have to go way up, like say a Hong Kong or a Singapore, we could do a denser version of low level places like London, Dublin, in fact any major European settlement.

Smart growth isn't done in Auckland. Smart growth cities build great infrastructure for and/or directly subsidise intensive development. Auckland builds huge swathes of sprawl around Pukekohe and Clarks Beach.

In the latest Unitary Plan revision Auckland Council scrapped plans for light rail on the central isthmus, but doubled the size of Wellsford. Auckland Council didn't want to do the CRL unless the government paid half, but was completely happy to pay for quadrupling the size of Kumeu outwards.

You realise SF is pretty much the most expensive city in the USA, right? Median house price is around US$1.2 million. Reasons for that are pretty similar to Auckland.

One difference though is their rents are also insane.

James right too
I lived in SF in 1983 & a brand new
mansion in Hillsborough SF would cost US$860,000
complete with huge library & twin heating systems to deal with the huge sq footage.
My RE agent aunt wanted me to buy a new triple glazed downtown apartment the city was building
Pity I couldn't afford deposit because today it would be worth a fortune

That building's ugly. I can imagine how bad that would soon look in an NZ city setting with wheelie bins outside and unkempt green areas. Looking reasonably spacious on the inside though. I expect they're building water-tight over there with more robust yet affordable materials and tradies that know what they're doing.

It'd blend in nicely with all the ugly buildings we already have, especially once it had collected a matching patina of grime and water damage.

I guess aesthetics are the last thing we need to worry about in the face of widespread homelessness, chronic construction worker and building material shortages, frequent seismic activity and indecisive governments (both national and regional).

I think you hit the nail on the head. I think the point is to develop technology and processes to build something quickly and cheaply but at the same time is still he habitable/appealing for the average person.

Besides as with all technological advancements, once the it gets cheap enough and wide spread enough then suppliers will find other areas of completive advantage e.g. aesthetics.

But Step 1 is always; Make it practicable.

Spot on Advisor. We need as cheap as possible with decent construction.
Part of the problem (only part of it) is that houses are 50% bigger than 20 years ago, with much better insulation, double-glazed windows, with higher quality fittings and plenty of features that houses of the 1990's didn't have. Well that costs more

Don't need bigger. Do need double glazing. Don't need 'higher quality'. Do need low rise - cheaper to build and better option for earthquakes. Plan to permit extra rooms and better quality to be added later. We need cheap and cheerful and now. Suitable for the poor and also the potentially wealthy getting into the market.

This is why the Skyline garage has been a cornerstone of Aucklands affordable housing for decades
I myself would covert many a garage for customers with extended family.
Councils used to turn a blind eye
Heck today 20% of the NShore has people living in converted garages or are renting rooms or half the house out just to afford mortgage etc.
Council turning a blind eye to that too
Been there done that too

Ugly. No. It's better looking than most of the 'apartment' type building you see in Auckland. Recognising that most of those present no competition at all.

Aucklands seems the exception that proves the rule, you know, scale improves the ....

Thinking modular/scaleable and wood?

I am not sure there is much benefit in modular, in terms of assembling modules to create a larger building. The fact is most framing for houses are built in factories anyway. Also you can tent a site, so you are working inside on a house. NZ already has enough bland ugly building being built now.

This has been tried here but the modular builders always go broke for some reason.

And same in San Fran as per the video at 1:30.

If they can't keep a modular house builder busy in San Fran, it will be nigh on impossible here.

Usually they are under capitalised and they seem to lack the efficiency that you get from a scaled up production line. You only get the best benefits if the production line never stops.

Seen those marvelous German production lines on "Grand Designs" Real Quality product factory built.

And the Estonian wood bakers!!

National is creating situation supporting matchbox environment.

Is this kiwi way.