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Regional built-up suburb with developed houses in the foreground and a new development in the background

Rapid progress is being made in the delivery of dozens of new homes for frontline workers across regional South Australia.

Construction is well underway on development sites in the South East, the Copper Coast and Port Augusta, whilst works will begin in the coming days on five homes in the Riverland. Builders have also just been appointed on key projects on the Eyre Peninsula and a second project in Mt Gambier which will deliver a further eight homes across these two regions.

The developments form part of the Regional Key Worker Housing Scheme, which was established by Renewal SA’s Office for Regional Housing in February 2023 to address the critical need for affordable and accessible quality housing options for essential workers in country communities.

Five key regional areas were identified as needing specific support to attract and retain the likes of healthcare professionals, emergency responders and teachers, and were chosen for a 30-home pilot program. The Scheme has already been expanded to include Bordertown.

Progress across the state to date includes:

  • Port Augusta – frames complete and external walls underway on four homes
  • Mount Gambier – frames complete on two homes and slabs poured for another two on a four-home development site
  • Mount Gambier - builder selected to construct a further two homes on a separate site
  • Kadina – site mobilisation commenced for five homes
  • Renmark - planning approvals obtained for five homes
  • Moonta Bay – planning approvals obtained for four homes
  • Ceduna – builder selected to construct six homes
  • Bordertown - planning continuing for the delivery of five homes within a 60-lot subdivision.

Seventeen of these new dwellings will be under construction by the end of the financial year, with eight ready to move in by early 2025.

Construction of the six homes in Ceduna will begin in July using an innovative modular building system, which will see the homes completed in much less time than a standard bricks and mortar home.

Highly experienced First Nations builder, RJ Scott Building which has been serving the Ceduna community for more than 23 years, has been chosen by the Office to lead its high-speed project in partnership with SipForm, a pioneering modular home builder.

Once work begins, SipForm will train local trades to build the six houses using its modular products. The system replaces traditional framing and cladding with an integrated panel system and so is a much faster and more efficient way to build homes. It is commonly used throughout Europe and North America but has recently been adapted to suit the more variable conditions of South Australia.

Wall and roof panels will be designed and individually numbered in the factory with 3D modelling and then flat-packed and delivered to the Ceduna site for installation by RJ Scott Building.

The delivery of the houses will allow essential health, education and police workers to move to Ceduna and be assured of somewhere to live. Speed of build will be to the fore with each house expected to take around seven months from commencement to completion.

Construction of the three, three-bedroom houses and three, two-bedroom houses will be staggered starting from July. All six homes are expected to be complete by September next year.

Office for Regional Housing Director, Matt Hunt, said building the new homes is paramount to attracting and retaining first class key workers.

“This is a priority housing project and will happen very quickly. It’s exciting not only to provide homes for key workers but to be able to boost employment locally during the builds,” Mr Hunt said.

“Crucially these new homes will help foster a genuine sense of community, as they provide key workers with quality housing where they can establish roots in the town.”

In Mount Gambier, third generation residential builder Empak Homes, has been selected to construct the final two new homes in the Regional Key Worker Housing Scheme pilot project. It is also managing the Scheme’s other housing project in Mount Gambier - construction there began in late February and the frames are now going up.

Empak, which employs 17 staff, specialises in house development along the Limestone Coast and in western Victoria, and has delivered dozens of new homes for the South Australian Housing Authority in the Mt Gambier region.

Meanwhile, strong interest has been received for the Office for Regional Housing’s $10 million Regional Housing Initiatives Program. Submissions closed on 3 May, with 30 submissions received from across the state. Renewal SA will now formally assess the submissions with priority given to tenders that are investment-ready and can commence within 12 months. The maximum assistance per proposal is $2 million.

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