The Registered Master Builders Federation says the latest building consent figures released recently indicate that the number of new houses to be built in 2011 will most likely result in the lowest number ever recorded.
Statistics New Zealand figures show 893 new home consents were issued in April, down 14.7% from the previous month. New home building consents issued so far this year are 777 in January, 973 in February, and 1047 in March.
RMBF chief executive Warwick Quinn says that “when these figures are extrapolated for the remainder of the year we are looking at barely over 11,000 new home consents for 2011 — and with apartments included we might make 11,500”.
“If these trends hold true that translates to a 25% reduction on the 2010 year.”
This means that builders will continue to release skilled staff which will result in the continuing loss of capability at the very time they need to be retained, given what New Zealand is facing over the next few years.
Mr Quinn says due to the current work shortage there is no immediate skill shortage.
However, we have an imminent medium to long term skills capability problem.
He cites the Canterbury rebuilding work, the housing shortage in Auckland and the leaky home repairs needed as known work streams, and says the economy will also eventually recover to a point where there is a general increase in construction activity.
“It is imperative the construction sector does not contract further as the industry will struggle to cope when the market eventually responds.
“We can see this large amount of work in front of us, but in the meantime we are continuing to lose skills as the work disappears.”
Mr Quinn says there is spare capacity in the system at present, and liquidity pressure was building in the Canterbury region as a result of September and February quakes.
The regions with the largest decreases were Canterbury, Waikato, Hawke’s Bay and Otago.