As an architect I have seen never ending reiterations of the “affordable housing” subject. Right now, the NZIA CPD days are focussing again around the very same subject: “Little Boxes? The Shape of Affordability in the Modern City”.

I am wondering that every time the subject is discussed, that we are talking about how to BUILD affordable houses. However, to me, there is more to it.

To me, it does not matter too much whether we are building a house for $200K or $250K when the land that I have to put the house on is $400K.

As a designer, I believe we should also investigate how we can manage to afford the land to put a house on. I recall I came across an article highlighting the fact that build cost has hardly increased over time. However what did increase was cost for land and expectations.

So how can we manage to keep land price and expectations down?
While I can stretch myself as much as I want to delete $50K out of the build cost of a house and make it say $250K, the land price still remains at $400K and I cannot influence it.

When we talk affordable housing, we have to talk affordable land too.

As a designer, I cannot change the price of the land, I can hardly change my client’s expectations, however with low expectations I can deliver a great value-for-money design solution.

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