Thursday news in brief

Thursday 27 July 2017

Life is busy and it’s easy to miss some of the stories that hit the news. So here’s a brief rundown of some of the stories that might have slipped by you this week…

Support for revamped building quality standard

A major overhaul of the Green Building Council’s Homestar standard has been greeted with enthusiasm by both the construction and health sectors.

The NZGBC’s quality verification tool, which certifies the health, efficiency and sustainability of new builds, has been re-engineered to make it easier for the construction sector to improve and verify the performance of new dwellings.

NZGBC chief executive Andrew Eagles said the standard takes into account current pressures on the construction sector but retains its rigour while significantly easing compliance overhead.

The Homestar tool is necessary for the New Zealand housing market, according to Panuku Development Auckland CEO Roger MacDonald. “By simplifying the tool considerably, the NZGBC is making it possible for sustainable healthy homes to become the norm, not the exception.”

Read more: Building for the future 

Inflation trends key to interest rates

People worried about their interest rate bill need to keep an eye on inflation trends, according to ANZ economists in their latest Property Focus report.

“Global deflationary forces have reappeared and there is scant evidence of inflation pressures building outside of housing”, they said. “Not only this, but some housing-related pockets have turned lower again.”

In their view, the labour market will be a key influence on inflation going forward and it is possible that stronger productivity growth will be needed to cap adverse inflation consequences and mitigate how far the OCR will need to rise.

ANZ expects the Reserve Bank to lift the OCR in mid-2018 - although risks are skewed towards later - and only a gradual removal of stimulus is likely.

Read more: Hawkish talk foreshadows rate rises 

New agency “useful” way to address housing crisis

A new government agency, which will co-invest up to $600 million alongside local councils and private investors in network infrastructure for big new housing developments, has been established.

Finance Minister Steven Joyce said the agency, Crown Infrastructure Partners, will set up special purpose companies to build and own new trunk infrastructure for housing developments. “This will be in return for dedicated long term revenue streams from councils through targeted rates and volumetric charging for use of the infrastructure by new residents.”

Two Auckland development projects will be the first to be assessed by the agency and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the funding will enable Auckland to speed up the construction of thousands of new homes.

Property Council chief executive Connal Townsend said the new agency provides a useful solution to address the housing crisis and will start to remove the handbrake on the infrastructure constraints holding back development.

Read more: Handing out the infrastructure fund

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