Too early to predict sustained uplift

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The RMBF says the latest building consent figures indicate a pick-up in activity, predominantly in Canterbury and Auckland.

Statistics New Zealand figures show 1559 new homes and apartment building consents issued for March 2012, a 43% increase on March 2011. RMBF chief executive Warwick Quinn says 2011 saw the lowest level of building activity since records began in 1965, and was one of the toughest years in living memory, with a little over 13,500 new home consents issued.

Mr Quinn says a key for a sustained recovery is an increase in construction nationwide — including the non-residential market which is also weak — which relies on a strong national economy. While the 1559 building consents for March is annualised to around 19,000 per annum, it is still below the general level considered necessary to sustain New Zealand housing requirements at around 22,000 to 25,000 per annum.

Mr Quinn says with the increased activity, the sector has also experienced an increase in the level of interest and enquiries for apprentices in Canterbury and Auckland.
With an estimated 24,000 tradespeople needed in Canterbury at the height of the rebuild, attracting and retaining trainees and skilled workers is essential, he says.