Twelve Chinese-manufactured sleepouts, designed to be cheaper than renting for Aucklanders, have been shipped to an East Tamaki factory and are selling for $11,000 each.
Graeme Reynolds and Dewey Yu of Countrywide Homes now have components for the new sleepouts at their Cryers Rd warehouse after two ships docked around Christmas, each with materials for six 10sq m places.
They were expecting the structures to be used as an extra bedroom, as Aucklanders squeeze up because of high house prices.
But instead of bedrooms, clients are buying the places for commercial space - one was sold as the office for a Glenfield car yard and another as a Manurewa church office.
Reynolds and Yu are expecting a third shipment of six sleepouts soon.
"The next phase will be complete houses," Reynolds said of plans to sell two-bedroom homes from only $40,000.
Reynolds, a builder, and Yu, an engineer, are displaying a new sleepout on castors at East Tamaki. The one-tonne structure will be rolled outside during the day and stored in their warehouse at night.
Shane Jones, Labour MP and building and construction spokesman, said on a site visit the sleepouts could have international appeal, particularly for Philippines disaster victims.
He takes some credit for schemes like Countrywide's, saying that as a former minister he ensured that 10sq m buildings did not need a building permit after his schedule to the Building Act in 2008 which exempted the construction and siting of small sheds from red tape.
Reynolds said a factory at Jinan near Shanghai was prefabricating materials using an assembly line, then the components were shipped in containers flat packed. The Glenfield office took only 1.5 hours to erect because the panels could be quickly bolted together, he said.
However, one critic said that many other sleepout brands were for sale online for as low as $5900, so Countrywides's scheme was neither unique nor particularly cheap.
Reynolds said his low-maintenance places had fully insulated ceilings, walls and doors, double-glazed UV-resistant sliding doors and windows and steel frames. Internal walls were vinyl-covered and two power points were wired up, with an external caravan point so that a lead could be safely run into the sleepouts. No bathroom facilities are provided.
Chinese-made homes for NZ
* 1-bedroom 10sq m: $10,000
* 1-bedroom 20sq m: $20,000
* 1-bedroom 30sq m: $35,000
* 2-bedroom 40-60sq m: $40,000-$60,000
* Delivery and assembly: $500
(Source: Countrywide Homes, Auckland)