As part of a study tour hosted by PlaceMakers, I attended the 2006 International Builders Show in Orlando, Florida, with Michael Fox, Brent Mettrick and 40 or so other kiwi builders and industry representatives.
The International Builders Show is certainly an eye opener — 2000 exhibits, 200 seminars and 120,000 exhibition attendees/visitors over the four days the show is open. Mike, Brent and I are in the process of writing a study tour report which we will publish in the next issue of Building Today, but there are a number of issues worth refl ecting on in the meantime.
Having spent some time with Beth McGee, the chief executive of the Metro Orlando Home Builders Association in Florida, it became rapidly clear that the problems faced by the building industry in New Zealand are very much the same no matter where you are in the world.
Issues such as sustainability of workloads, finding good staff/labour, ensuring sufficient money is made off projects, dealing with regulators, development fees — all these themes were echoed in the United States and, I suspect, all over the world.
I also came away from the United States trip feeling very proud of the high quality we achieve back here in the New Zealand building industry. We do some stunning work for very reasonable rates — and the finishing work in our New Zealand buildings can readily surpass that of our counterparts overseas.
Seeing some of the excellent building work in the United States reinforced for me the equally high calibre of building work done here at home. So, while weathertightness has been an issue for our industry over the past few years, I believe that we can step back and spend some time looking at what we can be proud of.
Our builders construct homes that are of excellent quality and value, which helps explain why, when our young builders go off-shore for their O.E. after completing their apprenticeships they are so eminently employable. As always, you sometimes have to go off-shore to be reminded how good things are back home!
The RMBF’s “building excellence” mantra can be applied here. I believe we can be very proud of what we achieve here in New Zealand.