Warning to act now while builders about

October 29th, 2013

stuffKATE NEWTON

Last updated 05:00 24/06/2011

If you live outside Christchurch and want to build or renovate – get cracking.

Building industry representatives are warning that once the city’s reconstruction gets going, it could be much more difficult for anyone outside the region to find a builder or tradesperson.

There will be about a year-long breathing space before the bulk of the Christchurch work begins, they say.

Master Builders Federation chief executive Warwick Quinn said Christchurch’s industry would probably cope with the Government buy-out of 5100 irreparable sections of land. About 3000 homes are usually built in Christchurch each year, but that had almost come to a halt since the earthquake, meaning there was capacity within the local industry to build replacement houses during the next year or two.

The squeeze would come from another 9000 homes that might also have to be abandoned, and the thousands of people given the green light yesterday to repair their damaged homes.

“The additions in the alterations market is likely to be where the pressure will come in.”

There would not be an exodus of tradespeople to Canterbury, but there would be enough of a shortage in other regions to drive up prices. “There’s a window, but that window is going to close.

“If I could afford to [build or renovate] now or I’m just waiting for a little bit more money, then I would try to get in and do it now.”

Construction Industry Council chairman Pieter Burghout said the industry was at one of its lowest ebbs in years but the rebuilding of Christchurch and work coming up in Auckland would change that. “You’ll find it more than a bit harder to snaffle a good tradesman once all that kicks into gear. The next 12 months are the best 12 months you’re going to get in terms of finding a tradesman.”

Mark Dickson from Builderscrack.co.nz – a jobs website for tradespeople – said yesterday’s decision would prompt some builders to head down to Christchurch.

“With this in mind, if you live in Auckland or Wellington it might make sense to get on with any renovation or repair jobs you have planned.”

However, Certified Builders Association president Allan Shaw, a Tauranga builder, said many tradespeople were likely to stay put in their own regions.

“There’ll be certain builders, electricians, painters, that will migrate down there, but guys who are married with families and are settled can’t go and work down there – they’ll look at it and say, `It’s not for me’.”

Other professions involved in the building industry were likely to remain in good supply, though.

Institute of Architects spokesman John Walsh said there was no shortage of architects.

“The profession in Christchurch is working at under-capacity at the moment.”

However, he agreed that tradesmen might prove harder to come by. “It may make it more difficult to find tradesmen if Christchurch acts as a sort of centripetal force and sucks them all in.”

Jeremy Sole, chief executive of the Contractors Federation, said the organisation did not expect to have any capacity problems in the rest of the country.

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