Published 17 October 2018, clarified 18 October 2018:
Half a kilometre west of the Westgate & NorthWest retail & business centres at the top of Auckland’s North-western Motorway, Universal Homes Ltd has started work on the first block of 7 units in its next subdivision, West Hills, which will ultimately yield about 1200 homes.
The 41ha development is unusual because it allows construction to proceed alongside the provision of infrastructure, a consent provision which vice-general manager Andrew Crosby reckons will save about 9-10 months in getting the project to market.
Image above: West Hills, where construction has started as infrastructure works continue.
Clarification on pricing:
On Wednesday morning I wrote: “The first batch of 7 terrace houses will include 4 56m² one-bedroom units without a garage, priced at the bottom of the Universal scale, about $5000/m², which will see them marketed for $285,000.”
Universal told me later in the day the 4 56m² one-bedroom units would come later in stage 1, haven’t had their prices set yet, but they would exceed $285,000.
In the first batch of 7, one with a floor area of 82.5m² has 2 bedrooms and the rest have 3 bedrooms.
The table below sets out prices for the first 7 homes released. I’ve added a column to show the range of prices/m², without distinguishing between living & garage space:
|West Hills pricing, first batch of 7 homes:|
|* Floor area including garage where applicable|
But most of West Hills won’t be in the sub-$600,000 “affordable” category, although they’ll come in comfortably below much of the $1 million-plus construction at nearby Hobsonville Point – the standard homes of 2-4 bedrooms will be priced between $695-851,000.
Those prices include rises in Auckland Council development contributions & water service charges.
“For the level of quality which we want – which is not super-luxury – this is as affordable as a good builder can make it,” Mr Crosby said.
Universal’s West Hills block off Fred Taylor Drive will form about 10% of the Redhills special housing area precinct, land held by a number of developers and all rezoned under the new Auckland unitary plan to allow for a mix of building.
Mr Crosby expects Universal will take about 8 years to build out its project, providing some standalone homes but with an increasing focus on terraces & duplexes, including about 90 one-bedroom units but dominated by 2-bedroom homes.
Both Mr Crosby & sales manager Mike Pearce attribute much of the improvement in what buyers will get to Universal’s participation in the development of Hobsonville Point, including the Axis energy-efficiency programme led by Government company HLC (2017) Ltd (the former Hobsonville Land Co).
Mr Pearce: “The high quality of urban design, energy efficiency & value-for-money pricing of the homes is due to Universal’s extensive experience at Hobsonville Point with urban designers Isthmus, a key partner at Hobsonville Point, leading the masterplanning, along with Avery Team Architects & Construkt Architects.
“The community & environmental dimensions are a major emphasis in the planning of West Hills, with the vision for the development described as green city living.”
Hobsonville Point led the way towards intensification, though generally not multi-level apartment projects (that said, a multi-level project there is up for hearing today).
“Hobsonville Point changed the thought that you’d have a standalone 5 years ago, but it took about 3 years to start building apartments,” Mr Crosby said.
Now, at West Hills, terraces & apartments are the first structures to go up, and terraces & duplexes form about 80% of Universal’s overall business.
For inter-tenancy walls, Universal uses Speedwall, a lightweight, quake-resistant & fire-resistant slab produced onsite.
Site works to break up the intensity include opening up watercourses for streams, wetland areas, a 5000m² pocket park, playgrounds (smaller ones vested in the owners’ society) & walkways.
My biggest question about the recent expansion of suburban housing developments – and greenfield plans further out on the fringe – is the access to shops & amenities. West Hills answers that question with its proximity to Westgate & Northwest.
The first homes at West Hills will be completed early next year, and the first stage will contain 94 homes.
Attribution: Site visit, company releases.