Wellington family giving away house for free — here's how you can get it

Author
Vera Alves, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 18 Feb 2021, 5:24PM
This house could be all yours for free - but there are some "non-negotiable requirements". Photo / Facebook
This house could be all yours for free - but there are some "non-negotiable requirements". Photo / Facebook

Wellington family giving away house for free — here's how you can get it

Author
Vera Alves, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 18 Feb 2021, 5:24PM

Do you want a free two-bedroom house in Lower Hutt for free? If so, read on.

A Wellington family who have recently purchased a new home has decided to give their first home away for free to whoever can get it moved from the land it is currently sitting on.

The Johnsons recently sold their land to property developer Faisandier Group, who will use the land to build townhouses and, as such, do not require the house currently on it.

Not wanting their beautiful home to get demolished and go to waste, the family has asked the developer to allow them to give the house to someone who needs it.

"Because they are wonderful, decent people (not all developers are sketch!) they are willing to let us give the house to someone who needs it. None of us want to see it go to waste in the midst of a housing crisis," Benjamin Johnson posted on Facebook earlier today.

"It was pretty common sense to us, really," Johnson told the Herald.

"The developer that bought our land does not require our 1940s house so it makes sense to give it away instead of demolishing it," he added.

"We're in the middle of a housing crisis, it's good to give it to someone who can make good use of it."

According to Johnson, when the family negotiated the sale of their property to the developer, they stipulated that they did not want the house to go to waste. "It'd be unjust," he said.

The developer purchased this home, along with another three around it, and will use the land to build 20 townhouses. "It's great, 20 new homes out of four for people who need them — and hopefully 21, with this one going to someone who will use it," Johnson said.

There are a few requirements the person who gets the free house will need to fulfil - and they are non-negotiable.

You must have a site to transport the house to and you have to cover house transport costs yourself (at an estimated $40,000 for the Wellington region). Additionally, you must arrange a quote from a removal company and have all details confirmed by March 4 with the developer.

The house has to be removed by the end of March 26.

The developer has also stipulated they would like the person who gets the house to make a donation to Te Omanga Hospice in lieu of any value exchange for the dwelling.

The house, currently located in Naenae, Lower Hutt, is a 90sqm 2-bedroom home with timber weatherboards and "solid bones".

Benjamin Johnson says he doesn't want to see the home demolished. Photo / Facebook

It was repainted inside and out 18 months ago and had new carpet put on back then as well.

It comes with a new Kent Rata woodburner, which cost $12,000 to install last year, and a new heatpump.

Johnson, who owns marketing agency Werk in Wellington, still lives in the home with his wife and two children (with another one on the way).

"We bought it 18 months ago, it was our first home. We never imagined we'd own our own home but got lucky and it's been a wonderful place to live," he said.

He told the Herald he has been trying to gift the house to some interested friends and has had four parties actively discussing it with him in the last month. However, it is not easy to fulfil all the requirements stipulated above.

"Some didn't have the land lined up, others couldn't quite wrangle the timeframe," he said, explaining what led him to make a public post on Facebook offering the house away today.

"There are very clear parameters of what needs to be done," he said, adding that the property developers are excellent to deal with and really keen to ensure the house doesn't go to waste.

However, there are also some difficulties: according to Johnson, there is "an issue currently with removal companies, they're quite hard to secure".

He has received about 15 emails from interested people in just a couple of hours.

Johnson is no stranger to giving things away for free. In 2010, he founded The Free Store, a non-profit organisation that collects surplus food from local businesses such as cafés and restaurants and distributes it to people in need, instead of letting it go to waste.

He was managing director of The Free Store until 2018, and has also helped other communities set up similar initiatives outside Wellington.