A Central Otago housing company is both thinking and building outside the box to get young families into their first homes.

By offering flexibility and working within a tight budget, the Cromwell branch of housing company Latitude Homes has been able to specialise in affordable housing amid mounting prices.

Central Otago franchise director Jeremy Pile estimated between 80% and 90% of its homes were entry level housing catering for first or second home buyers, or those on a tight budget.

Its branch was one of many contractors who had partnered with Universal Developments Ltd to work on the Longview subdivision, in Hawea, and he said it was “pumping out” a lot of houses for clients who were primarily first home buyers.

The 475-lot development comprised between 30% and 40% of its builds at present, with the scope to expand to 2100 lots over the next 20 years, and he said this partnership had helped it to get a lot of buyers into homes.

“We’ve helped a lot of young people into their first home over there … it’s pretty cool to hand over the keys to people in their first home.

“This could have been their only option to get into the housing market, especially in Wanaka with this Longview subdivision, and we’ve managed to help a lot of people so far get into those houses.”

Mr Pile said the company could build a three bedroom non-garage house for just under $400,000.

A year and a half ago this could have cost $320,000, but changes to building codes and additional costs had driven prices up.

Demand was high for houses on the lower end of the scale but Central Otago was an “extremely expensive region” and a lot of the houses being built were those without budget constraints.

High interest rates had also made lending difficult for prospective home buyers, and the money available to invest into a build was not what is used to be.

“The housing crisis is through the roof up here.

“There’s no housing stock up here, so obviously trying to help these people into their first home is something you always want to try to do.

“It is definitely a big issue up here and affordable housing is something we need more of, that’s for sure.”

He said the company’s approach to housing was flexible, which was able to accommodate people’s budget, location and type of build.

The company built housing all across the region — Wedderburn, Roxburgh, Kingston, Hawea, Wanaka, Cromwell and Omarama — and was aiming to produce 45 to 50 new builds this year.

Being a part of a national company meant it got lumped together with a lot of big players in the industry.

But Mr Pile hoped its flexibility and approach to customisation had made it stand out from others.

“We definitely love to offer that affordable solution for people and we’ve got the expertise to really build whatever people come to us with.

“I’d like to think we’re doing something a wee bit different down here with what we offer.

“It’s a lot more work, don’t get me wrong, but I think we also get happy customers.”

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