Friday, January 25, 2013

Our House

Housing is shaping up to be one of this year's main political themes, with all parties announcing their reaction to focus group pressure. Labour and Greens have announced complementary policies that would give a certain amount of golden tickets to a few lucky families, possibly in marginal constituencies.

National has bowled Tremain Heatley and in goes Smith, in the nick of time. Bill English has shown his Grave Concern eyebrows on the matter, looking perturbed at zoning regulations and local Councils.

And, like army maneuvers, where there's smoke, there's fire. The cost of housing has reached stupid levels, with no signs of stopping. Regional development has all but given up the ghost as Auckland boils over. Increasingly, households are dividing into those who have family help them into a house, and those who forever rent.

This isn't so bad in some respects. NZ is a new country, and its townships were founded for various reasons, some of which have not stood the test of time. For example, the only reason New Plymouth exists is because a ship load of settlers heading north out of Wellington trying to find a place to set up shop were told by all the Maori from Poneke to Whanganui to piss off. The oil and gas came later. Let those who have their family silver tied up in bricks and mortar, let Otautahi be a lesson to you.

But by and large the outlook is ridiculously bad if you're one of the population who really insists on having a roof over your head to sleep under. Even in some of the provinces, rents are steep for even a house of sticks.

My neighbours invited me over for Xmas drinkies, wherein they explained the history of Pook Farm, its former tenants, former owners. I was stunned at the price tag for the bach, and no longer feel any guilt for the government accommodation supplement. In truth, it's more of a house-sitting fee for someone else's tax free capital gain. I'm just the janitor, keeping it tidy and squatter-free until the real estate market recovers.

And land? How did land inflation go from beads and nails for acres in 1840 to hundreds and thousands for feet a bare 160 years later? It's not as if it's Singapore or Hong Kong.

Among all the bright ideas out there on housing, none is more overlooked than the punk angle. I wish I had had one of these 3D glass printers at the beginning of my drinking career. I could have recycled enough bottles to build a bloody mansion and matching glass house by now. Or how about this Adobe Brick Maker? Some assembly required, but at $US4000 for the parts, who wouldn't chip in for an infinite House of Lego machine?

We've got to look outside the box, and make it for ourselves.

UPDATE: This just in. HT Nandor.