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On golden pond: first-of-their-kind, floating homes coming to New Zealand

Fairway Bay and Block NZ winners of 2014, Alex and Corban, have set out to create twenty floating homes for the Gulf Harbour, on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour.

Michael Webb-Speight, development consultant for Fairway Bays, says this idea is a natural flow-on from having boats in the marina.

He says the inspiration for the idea is personal.

“My wife does not like to sail the Rangitoto channel. Instead of going with me on our boat out to the channel, she would rather drive. There she will get on board and then enjoy, in a perfectly calm anchorage, a glass of wine in the setting sun.”

Mr Webb-Speight believes there are many families in New Zealand that share the same experiences as himself. Where you can have the best of boating: floating on water, slipping off the side for a swim, or fishing off the back, without all the discomforts.

This idea is not as far-fetched as it may sound. As Fairway Bay owns the sea beds in the Gulf Harbour and it is an already existing marina, the idea proves to be rather easy to go ahead with.

Essentially, the only trick to it is designing a home that can float.

With engineering plans and designs still being played with, the first floating home will be in the marina in April/May next year, Webb-Speight says.

He says the interest in the floating homes has been massive.

“We have almost 300 people signed up on our website which is pretty spectacular. It really is a journey and we are really excited about it.”

So, what would these floating homes look like? Michael explains:

“Think of it as a floating apartment. So, in an apartment building, basically you have a 35sqm cube and then you can add all types of different materials to that cube.

“We [Fairway Bays] will build these little boats which will be the shells of the homes, we will control the exterior look of the shell, and then Alex and Corban are in charge of the interior.”

Alex and Corban are the 2014 winners of The Block NZ and owners of the homeware store ‘Alex & Corban Home’.

The Fairway Bay website has had about 300 people signing up to hear more about the idea, and Webb-Speight says that those who have registered their interest could act as a kind of proxy focus-group for the project.  

“So when we want to ask a question that only the market can answer we have got people sitting there that can answer the question for us,” he says. “They have said ‘we are interested’.”

“We think they are extremely valuable in our process because they are interested and they will give us their views.”

The final cost of these floating homes will not be known until the first home is up and floating, says Webb-Speight.

“We are going to launch the first one and then we will be able to define and price the others,” he says.

Buyers of these floating homes will not need titles registered with Land Information New Zealand, says Webb-Speight. Instead, they will have a long-term licence agreement for use of the berth where their house is moored.

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