Promising pre-fab home builder ABT Construction liquidated

Units being constructed at ABT Construction in 2015. Picture / Doug Sherring.
Units being constructed at ABT Construction in 2015. Picture / Doug Sherring.

A company once touted as part of the solution to Auckland's housing crisis with its fast-turnaround pre-fabricated dwellings has been put into liquidation over unpaid bills amid reports of frictions within its management team.

Liquidators Peri Finnigan and Boris van Delden believe ABT Construction ceased trading in the middle of last year.

Transport firm Multi-Trans applied to put the company into liquidation.

Multi-Trans director Dave Brown said his firm hauled ABT modules from the Auckland Show Grounds to an Albany development in 2015 but wasn't paid in full.

Brown said ABT "paid a little bit of money, locked the office and didn't answer the phone."

In 2015, ABT had four developments on the go in Auckland at Narrow Neck, Unsworth Heights and Grafton and even a contract for toilets on Great Barrier Island.

Its model for building modular homes offsite at a factory, keeping costs low, was praised by Housing Minister Nick Smith at the time.

"The sort of technology being developed by ABT is part of the solution to New Zealand's housing challenges in that it involves scale and prefab construction as well as apartment-style design," Smith told the Herald in 2015.

The modules were unusual in often being multistoried. They could be craned onto building sites once foundations were in place.

Finnigan and van Delden say in their first liquidators' report that based on information from various parties, "it appears there were conflicts within the company's management team that resulted in the company ceasing to trade around mid-2016".

The value of secured and unsecured creditor claims is unknown.

Secured creditors with assets pledged are Carter Holt Harvey, Harvey Norman, Ricoh, Steel & Tube Holdings, Tile Imports NZ and Bunnings.

Of the company's 200 shares, Auckland-based Qijie Xu is dominant with 124 shares, while Murray Painting held 66 shares.

BusinessDesk wasn't immediately able to contact Qijie Xu.

Creditor claims are due in with the liquidators by January 27.

William Carter, who was ABT's sales and systems manager at the time, said the building operation was "a very good system, a viable system".

The projects underway had all been completed and Carter said he has worked with another company, Hyperstructure, to assist ABT customers after it was unable to complete.

He was proud of the ABT system but there had been some internal issues between the partners.

Carter also said he was keen to become involved with such systems again. "Pre-fab is going to be a big part of the New Zealand building industry," he said

- BusinessDesk

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