The North Shore "factory of dreams" turning out Lego-style ready-to-live-in homes in just a few weeks will itself move shortly.
William Carter, sales and systems general manager of Adaptive Building Technology (ABT) Construction's factory at 217 Archers Rd in the Wairau Park/Glenfield area, said the business was temporarily relocating into a hall at the ASB Showgrounds before it finds more permanent premises, probably back on the Shore.
He acknowledged the business had scant plant and equipment to take to its new temporary premises and said its real advantage was the intellectual property behind the system - New Zealand's first high-rise housing factory.
In February, Matrix Homes opened an 8000sq m Trentham factory in the former General Motors assembly plant. Sean Murrie, Matrix chief executive, said up to 500 houses could be turned out annually.
In December, group house builder Mike Greer announced plans for a new house-building factory at Pokeno which could produce components for two and a half houses a day. The factory could eventually make components for 1250 houses a year, Greer said
At Rolleston, south of Christchurch, his business has formed Concision, a joint venture with construction business Spanbuild to develop the new $14 million factory in the iZone industrial park where Weinmann specialist German machinery is installed for the production-line house-panel manufacturer.
At ABT on the Shore, units of up to three levels are being built in that factory, each atop 30 wheels, pushed out the factory door then craned on to 14m-long trucks and sped to their sites from Grafton to Narrow Neck and Albany.
Carter said he was aware of the strong interest in the systems developed but said the business already had more than enough work to keep it busy including other terraced housing estates and did not build for external clients.
In the factory, doors are hung and voids prepared ready for staircases to be installed once the houses are on the land. Even wardrobe doors are on and face-fixed double-glazed windows and ranchslider doors are in place.
Carter said most house-builders would take three months or more to complete the same work but ABT, which is partly Chinese-owned, has designed special techniques and technology to enable the fast process.
The units now in the factory will be trucked in the next week to 147 Albany Highway to create three-level townhouses at the new Unsworth Terrace estate. Even before those 10 units leave their factory, Carter said demand was so strong that nine had been presold.
The 10 units will actually become five homes.
Although many building components are regularly made in factories, no multi-level terrace house factories have opened.
Keith Hay Homes has for many years been manufacturing affordable transportable houses and educational and commercial buildings, while other businesses such as Lockwood and Latitude Homes are operating in the same space.
But Carter said ABT's units were unlike those built by the other firms because all were multi-level and being developed by the business, not for individual clients.
"We're working with a parallel-track construction system, building on-site as well as in the factory at the same time," Carter said.
"While the modular first and second levels are being manufactured off-site on a four-to-five-week programme, the ground level is manufactured on-site. From around week five, levels one and two can be placed on top of the ground level to provide a structurally completed and externally clad building. The off-site construction environment is predominantly single level," he said of the factory. "It is light, dry, secure and comfortably workable for up to 24 hours a day."
The outcome was better for neighbours living alongside the developments, he said.
Minister of Housing and Building and Construction Nick Smith said more factories like this were needed because the technology developed by ABT was part of the solution to the country's housing challenges.