International Housing Association visit to HIA

HIA played host to the International Housing Association with visits to display villages, retirement homes and housing projects as well as presentations and discussions.


Kristin Brookfield

HIA recently welcomed the International Housing Association (IHA) to Canberra for their 2018 interim meeting.

The four-day event started with delegates from Canada, Norway, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, the US and Myanmar arriving in Sydney to then tour down to Canberra. Unfortunately delegates from Brazil, Peru, Mexico, South Africa and the EU were unable to attend.

The tour began with a visit to Homeworld at Leppington in south western Sydney, where members had time to see just a few of the 50 display homes now open to the public in one of Sydney’s largest display villages. The group spent time with Phil Jones, CEO of Homeworld, learning more about the management of the village and the benefits of a collective approach to creating and financing a display village.

The group then progressed down the Hume Highway for some kangaroo spotting, along with a visit to the Southern Highlands, the Big Merino in Goulburn and a sunset welcome function overlooking Canberra to end the tour day.

As is traditional, the formal meeting on day one focused on sharing common information about each country’s economy and their housing industry. Discussion ranged across all the issues you would expect when a group of housing associations sit down to compare economies, industry, pain points and solutions. The presentations by each country also provide fascinating insights into how similar some countries are, and how vastly different the housing situation is in other countries.

Reflecting on the number of homes built each year, home ownership rates, undersupply and other housing indicators gives the international group a useful starting point to discuss key housing issues.

IHA visit
HIA recently welcomed the International Housing Association (IHA) to Canberra for their 2018 interim meeting
IHA visit
Members signed a ‘Statement of Intent’ in relation to building codes

The IHA currently has working groups on housing affordability, social housing, energy efficiency, building codes, non-conforming building products, building information modelling and skills.

Also on day one, the group received a presentation on the Australian economy, 30 years of continuous economic growth – good luck or good management, which highlighted the four boom eras that have supported Australia’s economy over the past three decades, with the most recent being a housing-led cycle.

The housing affordability working group will focus its attention in the coming months on developing a better understanding of how member countries measure affordability, along with publishing a white paper on NIMBYs to assist members in responding to the ever increasing push against housing redevelopment projects.

The social housing working group discussed incentives available in Australia to move into home ownership. They will focus on this further in coming months seeking to share information about the ways that member countries support households to move along the housing continuum from social housing to private housing options.

Day one finished with a presentation about the emerging trends in energy efficiency and environmentally responsible housing and a sharing of government responses that may lead to changes in building standards over the next decade.

Day two commenced with a presentation from the general manager of the Australian Building Codes Board, Neil Savery, who shared the Australian model for building code development and adoption. While several member countries have similar approaches to writing and adopting a national building code it is obvious that the collaboration in Australia between federal and state governments is unique.

Kristin Brookfield

Kristin Brookfield HIA Chief Executive – Industry Policy is the current Chair of the International Housing Association (IHA). HIA hosted the 2018 interim meeting at Old Parliament House in Canberra.

The IHA brings together leaders of the housing sector from around the world. The IHA allows the world’s housing industry leaders to explore and address common issues related to housing and home building. Globally significant priority areas are identified by member countries. The IHA often publishes Statements of Intent on these priorities, and shares information and solutions related to them through its working groups.

Despite some local concerns regarding how we manage our own building code arrangements in Australia, it is important to recognise that globally the ABCB framework gives Australian builders much greater certainty about technical building standards than most other countries in the world.

At the meeting members signed a new ‘Statement of Intent’ in relation to building codes.

Norway and Australia combined the efforts of the building information modelling (BIM) and the non-conforming building products working groups, to present ideas about how BIM may be one way to assist builders to keep track of their building product supply chain in the future. While BIM is still in the early days for residential buildings, BIM product libraries may offer an international method for describing and comparing building product conformance.

The meeting ended with a discussion about ways to improve trade skills and encourage young people to enter the industry. Again this issue was common across every member country and members committed to sharing their local strategies and approaches to promoting housing as a career of first choice.

While the spring weather disappeared for the last day of the visit, the group returned to the bus and headed out to see housing projects across Canberra, visiting the award-winning display home by Classic Constructions in Narrabundah, south of the city, and then touring the Hindmarsh retirement village. The tour was topped off with a visit to Parliament House providing members with a better insight into Australian democracy, and a bit more kangaroo spotting along the way.

The IHA’s annual meeting will be held in February in the US.

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