How do I buy/lease or lease-to-acquire one of your units
- Contact us . We have a sales staff who will assess your requirements and propose the right size, design and plan for you. We give you a price quote and if it works, you place an order. Typically, it takes the factory a month to manufacture the unit, but there may be orders ahead of yours before we get started. We also may have refurbished units that have come in at the end of their lease.
What do I have to do to prepare the land?
- The land must be accessible and have a suitable place to park the unit. In some cases, this may involve the client arranging for a crane or removing branches or even fixing a washed out road, but in most cases, our drivers with 4×4 vehicles can tow the units to site.
- The site must have utilities ready for connection. In some cases this involves running a potable water hose (not a garden hose) to the main house, running a caravan-type power lead (16 or 32 amp) and a 32mm wastewater pipe connected to the unit’s macerator pump. The client may want alternative utilities such as solar panels, composting or electric toilet or rainwater harvesting. In some cases, the unit will be designated a sleepout with or without a bathroom, but no kitchen. Also while the majority of our units are delivered complete with the trailer undercarriage we can provide units on skids that rest on the ground.
What involvement does the Council have?
- Under the Resource Management Act (RMA), the planning department should only be assessing effects, not the mobile home itself. This is because most plans regulate “buildings” that are structures, and structures are defined under the RMA as “fixed to land”, which are mobile homes are not. Effects would be site coverage, setback, wastewater capacity, etc. Some council planners may argue that the unit is in a zone that allows only one dwelling, which often it defines as a building – hence a structure. It all gets very frustrating if the incorrect attitude of the council is if it is a home, it must be a building, which is wrong. Long before people lived in buildings (settlements), they lived in chattel homes which were not fixed to land. This legal distinction is why the RMA and Building Act are so careful to exclude dwellings not fixed to land. In many cases, people just proceed to place the unit on their land after ensuring the unit will comply with the effects, and if not, after applying for a consent say to upgrade a wastewater system to handle the additional capacity. In our experience, councils only become involved when someone complains, and only then is it pointed out to them that the unit is not a structure. It also should be noted that we are actively involved with the Mobile Home Association (see mobilehome.nz) to end this ambiguity created by councils misinterpreting the law.
- Under the Building Act 2004 Section 8, mobile homes that are not immovable (meaning not attached to a foundation or equivalent) are explicitly excluded from the Act. Aggressive councils that have disputed this, such as Hurunui Council and issued Notices to Fix have ultimately been slapped down by the court. In that recent case, Dall v MBIE, when Dall asked for a MBIE Determination, in a surprise to everyone, MBIE ignored all precedent, trying to come up with a novel interpretation that the judge rejected in firm terms. Ensure your unit is not fixed to land and the utilities can be attached and removed without requiring a licensed professional, and the council Building Consent Authority (BCA) should have no reason to become involved. In many cases, the customers read the Act and based on what they read, do not contact the BCA. In our experience, BCAs only become involved in someone complains. If that happens, refer the BCA to Dall v MBIE and contact us to have a chat with the BCA
Explain Lease to Acquire (LTA) to me
- Not everyone has good credit. Not everyone can save for a deposit. But some of those people are a good risk. They may have made bad credit decisions when younger, but now are responsible people. The bank algorithms automatically reject them, but we can help. We still do face-to-face personal assessments and if we feel LTA is likely to succeed, we will proceed. In LTA, your weekly rent is higher than it would be on a straight lease, typically about $70-90/week higher. The additional cost enables us to borrow the cost of the unit and the cost to manage it for a fixed term of 5-7 years (we prefer 5 years, but some clients want lower weekly costs that come with 7). The lease is fixed for the 5-7 years. There are no rent increases, and we cannot evict the client and put someone else in their unit, except we can repossess the unit if they breach the agreement. It is not like a tenancy lease, it’s more like leasing a car. At the same time the initial lease is signed, a second option-to-acquire agreement is signed. This says that at the end of the term (which is the same for the lease and for our borrowing money to pay for the unit), the client has a fixed option to buy the unit for $5,000. But if they have paid their rent on time during the lease, this $5,000 is rebated, and they pay $10 plus tax if any.
- It takes 5-7 years, but at the end, if they paid the rent on time and complied with the terms of the agreement, the client gets a good-credit reference and either a rent-free home, or if they wish, they can ask us to sell it on their behalf, so they can have a cash downpayment on a first-home mortgage. In other words, we restore the first rung on the property ladder to people who otherwise would never have it.
What if I want to convert it to real estate?
- When we tow the unit to site, if we leave it on wheels or skids, it is not real estate but chattel. This means when the land is sold, the unit is removed, or if the buyer wants it, it is listed as chattel, the same as if they want to buy the furniture in a building. However, a living unit that has bedroom, lounge, kitchen and bath can make real estate more valuable, sometimes more valuable than the cost of the mobile home. To do this, you would contact the council and apply for a consent to install a foundation – which can be piles, screwpile or Surefoot™ as well as a solid concrete foundation. The council would issue you a CCC for the new works, and based on the documentation we provide, showing compliance with the Building Code, a COA for the now immovable mobile home.
What is the warranty on the mobile home?
- All components used in our units are NZ Code compliant building materials which are sourced in NZ from major NZ suppliers. They come with 5, 15 or 50 year producer statements that they will perform for the term prescribed. The difference is how hard to replace or repair. Thus a door knob would have a 5-year statement while the wall and roof frame would have to perform to a 50-year standard. In the event something failed prematurely, the client would contact us and we would sort it out with the supplier. To date, nothing has failed. Of equal importance is what happens if it is the client’s fault and therefore not covered by warranty or producer statement. Such damage is the client’s responsibility but when it comes to procuring a replacement component or part, they should be readily available in NZ because they are common to NZ buildings. Also, unlike buildings, every component is easily accessible. We use screws and bolts, not nails. We don’t use plaster or concrete that has to be broken. Even if something is problematic underneath – which on a building could be a major cost – our units are accessible below – even hoisting them on a car hoist if need be.
Is steel framing environmentally friendly when compared to conventional NZ timber framing?
- Yes. It takes 40-50 mature trees versus six recycled cars to frame a 200 m² home. Our units are up to 36 m² – less than one recycled car.
- NZ timber is chemically treated – construction waste has a disposal problem; people illegally burn treated timber waste at end of life.
- Steel frame is computer cut: zero waste; end of life steel is recycled or if abandoned slowly returns to the earth with no toxins.
Does a mobile home have to be registered and have a current WOF when it is parked on land?
- No. LTSA rules only apply when a unit is towed on public roads. This is a service we offer at $500/day & $2/km, but only needed if the unit is redeployed. MBIE Determination 2014-025 states: “whether the unit can be considered a vehicle, does not turn on whether it is registered and has a current warrant of fitness.”
Is a mobile home included in the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA)?
- No. §5(1)(t) of the Act says: the Act shall not apply where the premises comprise bare land (with or without facilities) on which the tenant has the right under the tenancy agreement to place or erect a mobile home, caravan, or other means of shelter
Why do you manufacture to Building Code?
- If law changes, our units comply without any changes to materials or production methods.
- If a future owner wishes to fix to land and secure a COA, our units comply with the Code.
- Code compliance gives confidence: no shortcuts in manufacture; no substandard materials.
Do you have plans to expand the product line?
- Yes. We hope to offer a wet pod/dry pod design with kitchen/bath pod, decks to 1 or 2 sleeping/living pods. We also are expanding our luxury line for visitor accommodation and other high end applications. These are mechanically the same, but with more glass, more amenities and more expensive finishing.
With your LTA programme, why do you give the asset away at the end when you could keep it?
While we are in business to make a profit, we are Kiwis gravely concerned about what’s happening in this country. If government can’t respond to the crisis faced by the struggling class, we can. This is a pragmatic way to bring about real change by enabling people to earn a credit reference and in 5-7 years to be on the property-owning ladder.
We hear that last term, the cabinet informally said they did not want American-style trailer parks in NZ. What is your response?
It depends on the depth of their thought. It is based on Netflix stereotypes, it’s not very helpful. But at a deeper level, we agree the American model is not a good one to copy. People have what is called defensible territory. This is the space within which invasive behaviour annoys. American trailer parks tend to allocate defensible space that is smaller than defensible territory. The invasiveness can be noise, lights, smells, rubbish or other passive or active behaviours that offend. Aligning space with territory can be achieved in many ways. The classic quarter-acre section with fences at the boundary may do it. Or in apartments, sound-proof walls and good ventilation may be enough. Another approach is social. In American trailer parks often the only thing people share is their poverty. Some are loud, others want quiet. Some are hoarders and fill their defensible space with old cars, appliances or trash.
In NZ, we see two viable models that we actively support: aroha land and kainga. Aroha land is when a person provides permission to live on land by what property lawyers call natural love and affection. Typically this is a sibling throwing a lifeline to a sibling, perhaps with young children, who is facing hidden homelessness – but the host’s home is too small, and sharing the places where tension develop… the bedroom (sleeping and clothes), bathroom (ablutions) and kitchen (cooking and cleaning habits) is a prescription for failure. Or it could be an elderly parent needing more supervision, but wishes to remain autonomous. Or the reverse, parents whose adult children can’t afford their own home. It also happens to old people, more often women than men, who face not only poverty but loneliness. One may own a home with sufficient land so they invite a friend to lease a mobile home and park it on their land. We use the term aroha land to describe this permission to occupy.
The second model, kainga, is about building a complete community where people share some common interest. For Maori it may be rebuilding kainga on ancestral land. For tech-savvy Millennials there is a keen interest in building communities that include shared work space. If the borders reopen, there will be a strong constituency for young people on work visas in tourist areas such as Queenstown and Waiheke Island. Downsizing empty-nesters find the smaller footprint appealing but are looking for a stimulating community – and many prefer that this also include young people just starting out to ensure the community is not just aging folk. All of these interest groups are very different that the American trailer park model, and the design of them is not soldier-course side-by-side allotments. They use land more generously, and they have shared commons areas to facilitate natural social intereaction.