Looking back

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Two years have flown by, and it’s difficult to look back when the focus for those past two years has been only forward.
I said in the beginning that I was up for the presidency, and remember hearing about the 60-plus days per year Ashley Hartley spent on RMBF and industry business and thinking that it was a lot. In hindsight, I have not done any less.

Recession
This has been one of the main topics of my tenure. Over this time we’ve had some members go out of business and, for those who think the recession is over, I suggest you think again.
Consents are still at a 45-year low, bank lending has declined in the past three months, real estate sales are at a multi-year low and home affordability has not been addressed.
Compliance costs are still higher this year than they were last year and the year before that. Tax and GST indications have destabilised what market there was. Personally, I am not convinced this recession has run out of steam, so act prudently, grab each deal, present and service.

Master Build Services (MBS)
The launching of the new 10 Year Guarantee was a huge piece of work for the team. Geoff, Tali and the team are working in an efficient and effective way to ensure their internal processes provide superior customer service. The MBS board has done well to steer this ship through the recent turbulence to safe harbours.

Licensing
It’s finally made the grade. This has been a long process — some would say over 100 years! Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson, with mighty early help from Ashley Hartley, has finally pulled this through.
There has been some simplification and modification of the fees but, otherwise, the recognition our members have been waiting for in the form of licensing has arrived. I can recommend members to now sign up for your licence.

Compliance costs and consenting time
As I write this, there is no evidence this has lessened — yet! I am convinced that with the current work streams on sector productivity, the Building Act Review, multi-use consenting and the recently released starter home solutions, the issues are being addressed.
As an industry we have been victim to unfair inefficiency and bureaucracy that we have had to pass to our clients. The RMBF has responded with a submission to the review, and I hope you took the opportunity to do so as well.

House of the Year and Apprentice of the Year
Each year I have attended a number of each of these events. House of the Year is one of the best awards programmes in any industry, and with the 20th anniversary this year it exemplifies what it is to be a Registered Master Builder.
The Apprentice of the Year is one of the most rewarding events to attend. It showcases good training, proud parents and employers, and the star of the show — the apprentice.
These young people will be our future, and this event and the entrants truly demonstrate that our future is in good hands.

Structural review
Last year we restructured our membership categories so we are better placed to offer real value to the different types of builders/businesses that make up our network.
Warwick and the team have done well to finalise this process, and the next step is promoting the current benefits and developing new ones that define our market-leading position as Registered Master Builders.

Home affordability
We as an industry have not addressed the home affordability issue — that is, it takes nearly six times the average wage to buy a median home, whereas elsewhere it is three times.
Interest is still too high, wages too low and land too expensive (roll on the RMA reforms)! There are too many individual home designs — we need to create standardised components to provide a better result for our consumers.

Green building
Green building in the residential sector is starting to become commonplace. Green building tends to be a justifier rather than an initiator of a new home purchase. That said, there is a real case to combine eco and affordability to work not with the sale price but with whole of life benefits and costs.

Political stability
I would like to congratulate the Minister on being the first to have lasted more than a year in the job and, furthermore, for the courage to address the larger issues, eg, the Building Act Review.
Mr Williamson truly cares about this industry and, as an organisation, we have enjoyed working with the DBH and him to address the issues within the sector.

The RMBF is in a good place, in good hands and with a large agenda in place. As I stand down as president, I will remain a proud Registered Master Builder.
I would like to offer my sincere thanks to the Canterbury RMBA for their ongoing support, and the boards and staff of the RMBF for their dedication and belief and passion for our industry.

A special thanks to Tracey Bree for the hassle involved in getting these articles written, and then the crafting to make them readable, and Larissa Garnett for organising endless and unfailing travel arrangements.

Finally, no builders article would be complete without a “Thanks to the Wife”. Sue has been great, and an advocate of the presidency. We have enjoyed the journey and look forward to the years ahead in building.