Associations optimistic about 2013 prospects

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SOUTH CANTERBURY
Richard Geary

South Canterbury has experienced roughly a 5% to10% increase over the residential and commercial sectors during 2012.
Builders and subcontractors have been readily available to do the work that has taken place in 2012, with the major project being a $22 million swimming pool complex in Timaru. There are also a number of bulk storage sheds under construction in the industrial area of Timaru.

We are very positive for the outlook for 2013, with the Canterbury rebuild gathering steam and drawing on local resources.
As well as that, investors could possibly look at coming south with cash-settled claims. Many companies are finding they are unable to reinvest in Christchurch because of the many complications they’re facing, including rezoning of land, the high cost of reinstating buildings and reinsurance.

WAIKATO
Steve Brown

Commercial activity has increased over the past year, while residential sector activity has also increased slightly.
The feeling is that there will be an increase in activity in the Waikato area next year, and we feel that fewer local council planning restrictions would encourage this.
Projects either completed or under way in our area include the OP&RS ($25m), Citygate ($12m), a new Les Mills gym ($2.5m), HomeZone on Home Straight, Te Rapa ($7m), Turangawaewae Marae ($2m), and Royal Foundation of the Blind ($1m).

TAURANGA
Brian Foster

I think activity has increased in our region although, until recently, permit numbers have been similar to last year. The past few months have seen a big increase in permits at the council which will flow on to the builders in the next few months.
We haven’t noticed any labour shortages as most builders are still struggling to get consistent workloads. I do know of some tradesmen going to Christchurch and some to Australia though.

I am positive about next year. It looks better with the increase in permits, and most of the people I have talked to have more work coming up.
The increased cost of scaffolding single-level roofs for edge protection will be another tax on people’s already stretched budgets — and the Government is supposed to be making housing more affordable?

There is a major port extension under way, worth around $15 million. The Ryman Heathcare home is still under way in Bethlehem, and a new office block on the corner of Elizabeth Street and Cameron Road has just opened.

GISBORNE
Kath Kitchen/Francis Yates

Residential and commercial sector activity has decreased by around 30%. We’re fed up with out of towners encroaching on our space — at one stage six building companies from out of town were undertaking commercial work in Gisborne.
Joiners and painters seem to be busy but plasterers, plumbers and electricians have all said that work has dried up. There is no shortage of skilled labour, and most subbies are very responsive at the moment.

There is a lot of education work that has been tendered recently. Again, out of towners priced it with a couple of locals, but there were huge requirements for bonds on this work, making it difficult for smaller companies. All the work came out at once, and will start in the New Year.
Earthquake work has now been completed, and franchise homes at a set price are being built in one subdivision, but there is very little in the way of architect-designed new homes in sight.

We’re finding that lower interest rates are only good if held for a period of time because the uncertainity of increases puts people off.
Legislation on resource management and local government improvement that would help our industry is some way off, if it ever happens. The Government is demanding house prices come down, but at the same time introducing legislation that increases costs — for example, fire fighting ability on rural properties, double glazing on all new homes and alterations, edge protection and scaffolding to new homes, and many other items that builders are required to undertake.

Apprentices only get employed when the work is there. As much as the Government wants to increase apprentice numbers, getting good candidates is an ongoing problem. Many seem to be on another planet or lost in space.
Major projects under way or completed in our area include a medical centre, the Farmlands building, BNZ Bank building and the corrections building.

WHAKATANE
Martin Van Der Aa

Activity has decreased in the residential and commercial sectors, and builders and subcontractors have been leaving the district to find work.
Currently there are some major commercial projects under way, including the Baptist Church which has been under construction for approximately five months, and the new hospital and upgrade worth $65 million.

2013 is already looking brighter in the residential sector with a lift in enquiry, and I am feeling more optimistic. Interest rates are always a focus for consumers, as is job security, which all impact on being able to sell their existing home so they can get into a new one.
Any moves by Government to reduce the legislation would be positive and helpful. Simpler consenting processes would also help. I believe a central consenting body would improve consistency and remove personality from the process.

Apprentice training is always important, but I believe the current model of creating more schools for training is counterproductive and very costly, and the only one winning is the provider.
A return to the scheme of subsidising the employer so as to provide on-the-job training, and providing support to the employer and apprentice, with employment contracts etc, is far more productive as the apprentice is already at work, and the employer is less reluctant to take an apprentice on.

WELLINGTON
Wayne Robinson

We would say that activity in the residential and commercial markets has increased this year. Both markets are still very keenly contested though, with minimal margins making it a tough market still.
We get a mixed response from our residential builders — some are very busy, while some are just steady.

Commercial builders are surviving on smaller projects than they would probably prefer, but works levels are steady. Builders are having to stand in the tender market as there are very few negotiated projects.
We are finding — certainly in the commercial market — that subcontractors are getting busier and are starting to be more selective in the work they price and undertake.

Some trades are very busy, mainly those related to structural strengthening works.
We are upbeat about future work prospects. The level of enquiries seems to be increasing for both the residential and commercial sectors.
While we are not seeing the large commercial projects of five years ago, there seems to be a steady flow of medium-sized projects. We are hopeful of a positive 2013 for all.

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