Quite simply, we stink at it.
A colleague mentioned to me the other day that she’d walked past a construction site in Ponsonby, where there used to be a row of townhouses – one of which she’d lived in for a few months.
“What’s happening here?” she asked one of the workers.
“The houses were leaky. They had to knock them all down,” was the reply.
My neighbourhood was one of the early pioneers of denser suburban living, with a few different apartment and townhouse developments. They’re flagships, really, and have been the subject of local housing studies.
I have lived in the two main complexes: in one of the apartments, and in two different townhouses – so three properties in total. All have had, or are going to be, reclad. Yep, leakers, or if you prefer, with “remedial issues”. None felt solidly constructed, built to last. Two out of three were cramped; all of them had a weird layout with bathrooms in the middle of the building, with no outside ventilation. And honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of the demographics they attracted.
I used to hope I could eventually buy around here. It ain’t happening. We have looooong since been priced out. Possibly we could afford a townhouse, but I wouldn’t want to buy a place that I wouldn’t be happy living in – and I already know what it would be like, having been there and done that. Plus, the body corps (and of course you have to take those fees into account!) have rules about everything from pets to hanging out laundry. It really would be the worst of both worlds.
Another new development, more or less around the corner, is in the works. I really hope they get it right. Plan the mixed-use aspects, don’t rush it, and for the love of god deliver quality residential construction and materials. We need to break the vicious cycle we’re in.