The Residential Development Council has urged Queensland’s Environment Minister to “hasten slowly” with new laws designed to force housing to become more energy and water efficient because the price impacts could be felt most by home buyers least able to afford them.
The Residential Development Council – a national division of the influential Property Council of Australia - represents the interests of leading residential developers in Australia, with a leadership drawn from the Chief Executives of Stockland, Mirvac, Australand, Multiplex, Meriton and Lend Lease.
Executive Director, Ross Elliott, said the RDC supported Government moves to a more responsible use of resources as a foundation of ‘smart growth’ principles, but warned that similar laws in New South Wales had the potential to add $20,000 to the cost of a new house and land package, and up to $35,000 to the cost of a new home unit.
The New South Wales Laws – known as BASIX for the Building Sustainability Index – were to have come into effect in July, but after pressure from industry groups including the Property Council, have been amended and will be introduced from October.
Mr Elliott said that the NSW Government’s initial estimates of an extra $8,000 per dwelling were well under industry estimates which put the cost at more than double this in the case of single housing and up to four times this for home units.
“Without detailed consultation with industry, it’s possible to create unwieldy green housing rules which create economic hardship for battlers, and which deliver marginal gains at best for the environment,” he said.
“The rules typically only apply to new housing projects, and in Queensland, first home buyers and low to middle income families represent a high proportion of buyers active in this market.”
An additional $8,000 cost for a new dwelling could equate to extra loan repayments of $58 per month (based on a 7.25% loan over 25 years, with a total interest bill of almost $10,000 – in addition to the extra $8,000).
Mr Elliott said that even with the most stringent rules for new housing, the overall environmental effect would be negligible as existing housing stock was not affected.
“Community wide solutions, adopted voluntarily because the community are better educated, would generally be preferable but we appreciate that Governments have to start somewhere.”
“That being the case, we should be careful about solutions which have potential to impose a potentially large economic burden on a small proportion of the population.”
The amendments to the New South Wales laws are now estimated by members of the RDC to add roughly $15,000 to the cost of new homes and between $10,000 and $20,000 to the cost of new home units.
The rules cover water, energy and thermal efficiency, and from July next year, will also apply to the booming home renovations market.
Mr Elliott said he understood the Queensland Minister had promised further consultation with industry before regulations under the proposed laws were confirmed, and that the Residential Development Council looked forward to contributing to a workable and equitable set of principles.
Ross Elliott, 0407 177 591 or (07) 3225 3000