The number of houses and apartments built in New Zealand fell steadily from 1974/75, when 34,000 new houses and flats were built, to 1981, when only 14,300 were constructed; since then, numbers have generally risen, reaching 18,000 in 1992, when New Zealand's housing stock totaled 1,220,000. As of 2001, there were 1,359,843 private dwellings nationwide. About 80% were separate, single family houses. There were about 5,265 temporary dwellings (i.e., cabins, tents, mobile homes). The average household had 2.7 people. The average private dwelling has three bedrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen, laundry, bathroom, toilet, and garage. Most units are built of wood and have sheet-iron or tiled roofs.
In recent decades, the government has introduced measures designed to assist the financing of housing by contractors and private owners. These include increases in the maximum housing loans advanced by the State Advances Corporation, low-interest loans for families with low incomes, and the establishment of a home savings scheme through the Post Office Savings Bank. Since 1937, the government Housing Corp. has built houses and flats for rental, with preference given to low-income families; by March 1985, 90,469 of these had been completed. Since 1951, the government has generously subsidized local authorities to provide pensioners' housing.