31/07/2007 - 22:00

Housing right out of the box

31/07/2007 - 22:00

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Labour shortages and escalating building costs in regional and remote areas have prompted some building companies in Western Australia to seek innovative housing solutions.

Labour shortages and escalating building costs in regional and remote areas have prompted some building companies in Western Australia to seek innovative housing solutions.

In June, construction group Rapley Wilkinson bought transportable homes manufacturer Blue Ridge, in order to secure a greater share of Western Australia’s booming regional housing market.

Blue Ridge was established in 2005 and has built a considerable client base, including Fortescue Metals, Precious Metals Australia, Coates Hire and Aspen Parks.

Now, building company Pindan is looking to broaden its scope using a manufactured accommodation product called Habode.

The company secured the Australian distribution rights to the fold-out Habode and a stackable unit called ihouz in August last year, and is now taking its first steps into the marketplace.

Designed by New Zealand-based inventor Rod Gibson, the structures come complete with kitchens, bathrooms, double glazed windows and bamboo flooring. The units can be installed in eight hours and occupied within two days.

The latest Habode design is the fifth prototype produced by Mr Gibson, who is understood to have sold 15 houses and units in New Zealand.

Pindan director of business development, Scott Davison, said the company launched the Habode Australia subsidiary in August last year but had taken time to modify its products to meet Building Code of Australia and energy efficiency requirements.

Habode Australia recently opened a display village in Jandakot, and Mr Davison said Pindan was close to agreeing to several new projects. 

“We see our market consisting of a lot of commercial projects as well as residential accommodation in remote and regional areas. ihouz has massive potential for the resource sector,” Mr Davison said.

The Habode series of buildings uses a patented fold-out technique that can produce a two- or three-bedroom home with an internal footprint of 80 square metres.

The ihouz series, however, uses a ‘slide-out’ technique and ranges from one- and two-bedroom studios to two-, three- and four-bedroom units and ensuites.

All ihouz units have 47sq m floor plates and can be stacked up to a height of three storeys.

Both structures are manufactured in China of a weathering steel called Corten, and are designed to be folded up and fitted into a lifting rig and transported like a sea container.

Depending on how far the structures must be shipped and the price of installation, Habode can be erected for less than $150,000, without connections and services.

Mr Davison said Habode needed just two skilled people and up to four unskilled people to erect, which was more efficient and cost-efficient than the labour required for other housing products.

Habode Australia is also looking at options to provide indigenous housing and employment opportunities.

“The trade base in WA is going to continue to diminish as a lot of workers are ageing and most will consolidate in the metro area,” Mr Davison said.

“This is going to hit regional areas harder, so we can see opportunities.

“Pindan is always looking at the bigger picture, and trying to find ways to diversify its business.”

Mr Davison said the company was keen to control the Habode and ihouz installation process and offer a complete service to clients, including finance and service connection.

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