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24 days ago
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Instead of KiwiBuild, why don't we offer a $10 million prize to the first team who can build a house for under $200,000 in less than a month? : The Ansari X Prize was a competition which offered a $10 million prize to the first team who could build and launch a spacecraft capable of carrying three people to 100 kilometers above the Earth's surface, twice within two weeks. It helped spur development of affordable space technologies which as of 2018, are still being pioneered by the likes of SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, and yes our very own Rocket Lab. Similar prizes include the Methuselah Mouse Prize for research into human longevity and the Millennium Prize Problems for mathematics. So... Why don't we apply these ideas to our housing crisis? A $10 million prize could be offered for the first team who can build a house for under $200,000 in less than a month. Universities and businesses could submit their best minds into solving some of the most tackling issues with the hope being that this would spur further innovation into engineering, materials science, and production techniques which could ultimately make every future home in New Zealand more affordable. Believe it or not, it's actually possible to 3D print a house today for under $10,000 in less than 24 hours. Granted, the end result of that $10,000 experiment is just a concrete shell with little else in the way of plumbing, electricity, or amenities and adding these will undoubtedly increase the price. However, I believe that this kind of thinking outside the box is a step in the right direction. Henry Ford once famously remarked, "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." It was only by using a combination of clever design, engineering, materials, building methods, and production techniques that Ford was able to completely revolutionize the automobile industry and open it to the middle classes. And that is really my main gripe with KiwiBuild. Dig down a bit deeper and you will see that it is really just a conservative approach to the problem of affordable housing. The houses are exactly the same and the manufacturing processes haven't changed a single bit. Why? Because KiwiBuild homes use the exact same designs that houses had prior to KiwiBuild. Even more, they are even built by the exact same construction companies and are managed by the exact same property developers who then subdivide the properties before turning around and selling them to the government at current market rates. KiwiBuild is fundamentally at its core neither new nor innovative. It's really just money being shifted around in a slightly different way. Or as Ford might put it, KiwiBuild isn't a model T. It's just a slightly faster horse. - Full Article

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