To see rental pods click here
8m 2 bedroom, kitchen and bath from $260/week
7.2m 1 bedroom, kitchen and bath from $220/week
There are a few pieces of the puzzle to reach the goal of affordable rental units:
- Lower the cost: Construction in NZ is expensive. There is an alternative... use 21st century manufacturing processes not 19th century construction practices.
- Know the rules: Most people know that if you erect a building on your property that is less than 10 m² you don't need a Building Consent. Few people know that a "Building" is precisely defined in the Building Act, and if you place a bigger pod on your property that meets certain criteria, it is not a "Building". That saves massive costs in paperwork, not just the consent, but the BRANZ certification costs. We still build to the same standard as a building (indeed, we build stronger, to survive the road trip). We do so because it is prudent. The rules could change, but for now it means we can manufacture pods at a lower cost.
The rules are simple:
- Not long-term habitation: Not all shelter are buildings. Buildings must last at least 50 years in one place. Our pods are intended for:.
- Communities with available land losing their low-income essential workers such as teachers, police and vital workforce, due to high housing costs.
- Young people living independently, with half a dozen unrelated roommates into two bedroom rental homes because the rent is too high.
- Parents of young adults especially debt-ridden ex-students who move back home, but the parents prefer they not live in their old bedroom.
- Elders needing additional supervision, move in with their adult children, who want privacy (granny flat).
- First-time home buyers require immediate habitat on the land while their home is built.
- Homesteaders self-building on their land, requiring immediate shelter while they build (akin to the traditional bach).
- Millennial nomads loving the idea of living in a tiny home on someone else's land for a while.
- Socially-oriented millennials interested in living in low cost, high-social-connection pod villages
- Tangata whenua returning home need a decade to develop fiscal capacity, kainga and permanence
- Urban Maori with land seeking to build urban kainga facing the same challenges as tangata whenua
- MSE requiring local beneficiary housing instead of is paying to relocate their clients to costly motels
- WINZ providing housing allowances for beneficiaries who arrange their own host land
- Homeless: A church-, iwi-, or NGO-sponsored humane short-term solution for homelessness
- Ex-prisoner return housing to help make a permanent transition to living a crime-free life (pod village)
- Natural disaster emergency housing in the aftermath of earthquake, flood, cyclone, wildfire, etc
- Natural disaster worker housing: Relocatable housing for the rebuilding workforce
- Home Offices for fibre-optic-linked workers who need separate space (office toilet & canteen)
- Pop-up shops and services: Commercial facilities such as alfresco cafes, ebike rentals, etc
- Outdoor tourism operators: The pod villages along cycle trails, fishing/bird watching villages, etc
- Airbnb: This evolving industry may be Council regulated, but if allowed, is suitable for pod rentals
- Seasonal business employers, especially in the tourist towns such as Queenstown or Waiheke, that require worker accommodation and the pressure is becoming so great that they are open to placing rental pods on available land that they rent to their workers
- The easiest measure of transportable is that it is on wheels, legally delivered on the road, and easy to relocate at any time
- Our measure adds "TBO" (time between overhaul) to that. Our units are not maintained on site, but regularly removed for refurbishment
- Self-installed utilities
- No plumber required to hook up the water. Uses a non-toxic water pipe connected like a garden hose.
- No electrician required to hook up power. Uses a standard, exterior-grade lead that connects to mains power.
- No sewage hook in. Uses a masticator pump with pipe that runs into the gully trap of the permitted septic or sewage.
- No gasfitter for califont. Uses a BBQ gas bottle mounted on the pod
How it works:
- You arrange for the land.
- If you need resource consent, please get it.
- If you need building consent for a new sewage system, please get it.
- If you need to run power, water or other utilities, best to do that before we deliver the unit.
- It is helpful that you have a flat place to park the pod; even nicer if it is a flat slab or pavement.
- You sign a contract with us to lease the unit.
- 12 month or more leases please
- We then make the rental unit, or in future years supply a reconditioned pod from inventory.
- We deliver the unit, hook it up and hand you the keys.
- You supply the electric whiteware (stove, fridge, microwave, whatever) because we found tenants took better care when its theirs.
- You keep it tidy, so when you are through with it, it's in nice shape for the next person needing short term accommodation.
- The term "not for long-term habitation" is not defined, but it probably means a few years. After about five, we may swap it out for TBO.
- When your lease is up, and you no longer have a need, we collect the unit.
- It's that simple.
What if the council does not accept the MBIE determination?
Sometimes, the fact that MBIE says no is not enough. A council building officer can make life difficult. So, should a council building officer contact you, the first part of the dialogue is to get them to understand that Parliament knew what they were doing when they defined what is a building, and MBIE articulated this in its determination. It is based on the principle that not everyone needs to live in a structure that must stand for 50 years in the same place. A building is a structure that must last no less than 50 years in the same place. The purpose of the Act is to ensure that in 49 years and 365 days, it still is warm, dry, safe and not suffering leaks, rot or other failings that unfortunately became commonplace when traditional Kiwi construction gave way to new methods that failed.
In contrast, some people chose to live in places not intended to stand in the same place for 50 years. These are not "buildings" even though they are habitat. Therefore they are not governed under the Act. They are outside the scope of the Building Consent process. This means that for someone whose job is to enforce the Act, the pod is not their responsibility. It also means that MBIE has said the Council is not legally responsible for the pod. Since the Building Act 2004, councils have shifted from a checks and balances role to ensure the public that builders knew what they were doing to a mitigation of liability on behalf of the Council. Point out to the officer that MBIE lets them off the hook.
It's a bit like ebikes that are not considered motor vehicles but in the same class as far less regulated bicycles. LTSA does not concern itself with issuing rego plates or require WOF for ebikes because they are not considered motorbikes. Even though they make riding up hills easier, they are sufficiently low-powered that the lesser regulations of a bicycle are considered acceptable. However, the ebike vendors appreciate that this lack of regulation comes with responsibility, thus they make the ebikes safe.
We do the same with our pods. We follow the principles of the Building Act to ensure our pods are warm, dry, safe, comfortable and durable. Because we rent them, it is in our interest to keep them in great shape for decades, which means selecting durable materials and building them strong. It helps, of course, that they are very simple, single-floor designs where there is less to go wrong. We legally deliver them on the public roads and redeploy them when they are needed elsewhere. In their lifetime they could be in a dozen different jurisdictions which would be crazy-making for the councils if they treated them as buildings. Some of our pods are seasonal, meaning we redeploy them to the cycle trails in summer and the ski fields in winter. The Building Act is not written for such forms of habitat.
You also should point out to the officer that the reason the need has arisen for these pods is the housing crisis. People are sleeping in cars and garages. 2-bedroom houses have 14 unrelated people living in them, with more in tents in the backyard. In part this crisis has come about because the cost of building new houses has become unaffordable. Pods and pod villages are a way to respond to the crisis now, not in ten years. They are intended to fill gaps and provide forms of habitat that address today's social realities, where not everyone fits well into three-bedroom homes on quarter-acre sections. If it is a judgement call in the officer's opinion, ask them to see the bigger picture.
Help make their job easier, not more difficult.
If this personal and reasonable approach does not work, bring us in.