Getting vaccinated the key to enabling our industry to operate at any alert level

David Kelly

Registered Master Builders Association chief executive David Kelly says vaccination is key to working towards a thriving sector free from the impacts of Covid-19 and building shortages.

The past couple of months have been tricky, for all of us. Lockdowns, product shortages and the ongoing material price increases have put extra pressure on an already stressed sector.

While much of this is outside of our direct control, there are also some key things we can all do to help our sector at this critical time.

Vaccination is now the Covid strategy

I want to urge all of you to get behind the vaccine rollout. Everyone has a role to play in our Covid-19 response, and getting your jab is now the most critical step.

The construction industry already has a higher vaccination rate than the rest of the population, and we need to keep this momentum going.

New Zealand is now moving towards living with Covid-19, rather than completely eliminating it. Vaccinations, along with masks, social distancing and testing have a crucial role to play in this.

We’re continuing to work with organisations such as Construction Health and Safety New Zealand (CHASNZ) on the role of vaccinations in protecting our sector and clients, and in enabling our industry to operate at any alert level.

But it is clear that the more of our sector that is vaccinated, the better, as it will enable a quicker transition to normality.

I want to emphasise that — despite rumours to the contrary — research clearly shows that vaccines are the best defence.

This means that if you do get Covid-19, you are far less likely to fall seriously ill and are less likely to pass the virus on to others.

Studies have shown that about 95% of people who received both doses of the vaccine were protected against getting seriously ill. For the best protection, it is important to get both doses of the vaccine.

It is more important than ever to support those in our sector with clear and deliberate leadership. Our leaders — from industry figures and business owners to everyday builders — should be encouraging their peers and employees to vaccinate.

Staff should be allowed time off to get their jab, and recover from it if necessary.

The health of our people, and the wider economy, depends on it. They are the path back to the kind of life we all want to lead.

Tackling building shortages and price fluctuations

We also know that now is a tricky time for builders and their customers, especially when it comes to material availability.

There are shortages and price fluctuations throughout the country, which is placing extra pressure on all of us.

In these situations, communication is everything. We encourage our builders to talk with their customers, and to do so now.

Be honest with them and provide them with realistic timelines and cost structures.

Everyone is in this together, and it is beyond our control. By talking openly, all parties can work together to deliver the best possible home, within the budget available.

It’s also a good time to talk to your customers about different products they could use, and the importance of building in contingencies.

We also think that builders should be cautious about fixed price contracts at the moment as it’s difficult to determine exactly how much a build will cost.

Some products have increased two or three times in the year already — no one can predict this.

The Master Builders contract includes a provision for price fluctuations, and we recommend keeping these clauses, given the current environment.

We worked closely with the Construction Sector Accord and the Government to enable some manufacturing plants in Auckland to be designated as essential services under Alert Level 4.

We are pleased that alert levels are now tracking down, and more suppliers will be able to scale up capacity and help mitigate the shortages the sector is facing. This may take time, so we need to be patient.

Our team is continuing to advocate on both these issues. We’re publicly communicating the issues the sector is facing, and collaborating with Government behind the scenes.

Master Builders wants to see a thriving sector free from the impacts of Covid-19 and building shortages, but we know there is work to do.

Until next time, take care of your colleagues and families. And maybe, most importantly — get vaccinated.

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