How-to Guide: Piritahi case study

This informative how-to guide is to help others learn how to adopt Piritahi's approach to saving and relocating homes.

In response to New Zealand's housing shortage, urban redevelopment is increasingly being used as a lever to increase housing intensification in our towns and cities. This has led to house removals becoming a common practice in modern housing development.

As the traditional Kiwi quarter-acre dream is replaced with contemporary and high-density housing, huge volumes of old housing stock now present an opportunity to break away from traditional approaches of demolishing redundant houses, and instead promote a more sustainable approach. This approach celebrates and preserves the history of New Zealand's housing, while addressing other critical supply issues for the population.

Who this guide is for

This how-to guide is for construction clients, consultants, developers and contractors who are considering or undertaking the demolition of a house or houses. This guide is intended to provide you with options to address redundant housing in a responsible way.

Relocating houses: Logistics

The most sustainable and responsible solution for dealing with a redundant house is to relocate it to another site, if a suitable purpose or owner can be found. House relocation companies generally operate in most parts of the country and will normally be willing to visit the site and give you an assessment on the achievability of relocation, and the potential value of the house.

House removal is a specialist activity, anyone contemplating house relocation should engage with appropriate advisors and contractors to ensure it can be carried out safely.

When undertaking an initial assessment of a house for relocation, there are several factors to consider.

The quality of the house

More recent builds are likely to be in a better condition that may make relocation easier, but older housing stock like villas are often built with sturdier materials. The detailing found on traditional villas can be expensive to replicate and may make a house more desirable.

The dimensions of the house

Due to height restrictions on New Zealand roads, the height or width of a house may make relocation impossible without significant deconstruction or temporary works.

The accessibility of the existing section

A large truck is needed to relocate a house and site access for a heavy vehicle is critical. Adjacent utility services, such as overhead power cables or underground pipes, can also affect accessibility.

Relocating houses: Security

When a house is left visibly vacant there is a risk of vandalism, theft of materials and damage – such as graffiti. During the period between the house becoming vacant and it being removed from site, it’s essential that basic security measures are put in place to keep the house in a good condition.

Protection measures can include:

  • Ensuring the house is weatherproof to protect against the natural elements
  • Securing the site with hurricane fencing, security cameras or alarms and boarding-up windows
  • Turning off water and other utility services
  • Removing valuable items, such as water cylinders, ovens, and air conditioning units.

Relocating houses: End users

Without the involvement of a house relocation company, part of the challenge will be finding an end user to take on the house or houses.

Options for identifying potential uses for the house could include:

  • Finding a developer with a vacant plot or subdivision
  • Private sale through classified advertisements or online platforms
  • Reaching out to a public or social housing provider.

When entering into an agreement of this kind, it should be clear who is responsible for the different parts of the relocation process – including the security of the house while it resides on the existing site, insurance of the house during transport and any plans to refurbish and then reconnect the house to utilities.


If a house cannot be relocated, the house may be suitable for deconstruction. This presents other opportunities for sustainable and responsible solutions – instead of it being demolished.

Consider the following priorities when approaching deconstruction.


The first priority with deconstruction is ensuring it is done safely, meaning engaging with an experienced company is a critical step.

The type of deconstruction company

As well as commercial deconstruction companies, there are companies that combine environmental practice with social values. For example, TROW Group that ship recycled materials to Pacific Island nations for remedial building works following natural disasters.

Recycled materials

It is important to agree with your deconstruction contractor on what percentage of materials within the house can be recycled. For example, Kāinga Ora have a target of 80% of the materials in a house to be salvaged for recycling. Piritahi are currently achieving 92%.


As well as setting targets for recycling, putting in place reporting processes will ensure there is sufficient evidence that materials are being responsibly recycled.

Last updated: 26 May 2021