Property editor of the NZ Herald

Builder expands with growing demand

GJ Gardner expects to build nearly 1000 houses in the year to next March.
GJ Gardner expects to build nearly 1000 houses in the year to next March.

The country's biggest house builder has opened four new franchises and will build almost 1000 new houses in the year to next March.

Grant Porteous, GJ Gardner managing director, said Whangarei, Greymouth, Queenstown and Invercargill franchise businesses had opened in the past three months.

"We're just getting such big demand," he said of the business which built 730 new houses in the May year and is projecting 985 in the year to March 31 next year.

"What's On report shows us building over $220 million [of] new homes for the 12 months to May and with a good part of that being in the recession, we are obviously happy."

Last month, the business built 86 new houses, has 28 franchise operations running and is opening new offices in response to demand.

"Whangarei is still in recession. We had a business there in the past and the owners lost focus and it became a non-event so we're just reigniting it with new enthusiastic owners.

The new franchise operator has made 19 sales in three months, which is quite phenomenal in that market," Porteous said.

The Greymouth office was opened after calls to the Nelson and Christchurch GJ Gardener offices, asking if the business would work on the West Coast.

"Queenstown needs a lot of affordable houses for workers there, as well as in the Wanaka district."

Contracts to build nine Queenstown houses had been struck and a further 11 prospective contracts which might be signed by the end of this month were in hand, Porteous said.

The new Invercargill franchisee is ex-All Black Simon Culhane. Porteous said GJ Gardener had not had an office there for the past three years.

Porteous questioned the Labour Party's KiwiBuild housing policy, aiming to develop 100,000 affordable houses for around $300,000 each in the next decade.

"Land out at Millbrook is selling for $350,000 to $400,000 and around $350,000 around Whitford. Even in Pukekohe it's around $250,000 for a section of around 600sq m."

He said the lowest-cost brick and tile, well-insulated house was $180,000 but a section would have to cost no more than $120,000 to fulfil Labour's promises.

- NZ Herald

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