Happy New Year and welcome to 2014. I trust you all had a decent break and are ready to go again after the holidays. This year is looking good and it is a pleasure to be able to forecast some positivity at long last after years of gloomy outlooks.
We finished 2013 on a high with the Reserve Bank exempting new homes from the LVR restrictions which means our growth will not be as hampered as it might have otherwise been.
I think the Reserve Bank ought to be praised for listening to us, acting swiftly and for not being too proud to do the right thing. Well done.
So what is in store for this year? Well, we think growth will continue, particularly in Auckland and Canterbury, with things picking up around the rest of the country also.
We expect something in the order of 22,000 to 23,000 new residential building consents will be issued, which is up about 3000 on 2013. Auckland and Canterbury will form about 60% of those, and more apartments will be built.
Commercial construction will also improve as Christchurch starts and, given the economy is on the improve, the private sector will invest more in construction as it has the confidence to expand.
However, also expect interest rates to rise as the Reserve Bank is likely to increase the official cash rate later in the year, and this will have a negative effect on activity levels.
The Building Act regulations will be completed and in place towards the end of the year which will introduce greater consumer protections by way of compulsory written contracts, disclosure of certain information before a contract is signed, check lists and the finalisation of what information must be given to the home owner at the end of the build for passing on to subsequent owners.
The Law Commission would also have reported back on its review of joint and several liability, and I am cautiously optimistic that a potential tweaking of what we have is possible — maybe a hybrid system, being a mix of capped proportionate liability (at best). But perhaps this is just wishful thinking on my part.
Health and Safety will bring with it further changes given the Government’s focus with the establishment of WorkSafe NZ. I am hopeful of a positive review of the Construction Safety Council’s framework which is currently underway, with a report due early in March. If that gets traction then we will see a step change that is long overdue.
And we are now, of course, the Registered Master Builders Association of NZ, with Branches in place of local Associations, and members belonging directly to the national organisation. Look out for changes and increased training and development opportunities.
First cab off the rank is the launch of the Business Training Academy. Watch out for that and get on board to improve your business skills and knowledge that will ultimately make you more profitable and successful.
Look out for our calendar of events also, and activities that will be happening in your Branch during the year.
Exciting times ahead indeed. A new organisation and a long overdue lift in construction work. About time!
Have a great 2014.