Signs of building recovery

Tim Davis.
Tim Davis.
Home building in the Queenstown Lakes District is on the rise, and those in the industry are ''cautiously optimistic'' the trend will continue.

Figures provided to the Otago Daily Times show the district recorded a 6.5% increase in the value of building consents between the 2012 and 2013 calendar years.

But a far bigger gain, according to the Queenstown Lakes District Council figures, was in the value of new houses, units and cribs - up 18.8% from $179,410,936 in 2012, to 213,118,636 in 2013.

In that sector, the most notable change occurred in the Wakatipu and Wanaka areas.

The value of new residential building in Wanaka went up 29% (from $64,424,502 to $83,238,566), and Wakatipu 38% (from $58,116,741 to $80,381,716).

The total value of all building consents in the district rose by 19% in Wanaka and 16% in the Wakatipu region, but dropped 20% in Queenstown and 2.5% in Arrowtown.

Wanaka Placemakers spokesman Tim Davis was yesterday cautiously optimistic the signs of a recovery in the building industry would continue.

''We've definitely noticed an upturn but it's coming off what was a very low base. It's difficult to predict where it will go to.''

Placemakers had increased its staff by one in the past six months - to 21 - after cutbacks during the global financial crisis.

''We are beginning the slow process of increasing numbers again, but off a very low base.

''We're nowhere near back to those heady days of 2008.''

Mr Davis said it was too early to predict the likely trend in 2014, with one large permit able to distort figures dramatically.

''The trend looks good, but it's still early days.''

He found it ''extremely encouraging'' to read building work on the 112ha Three Parks commercial and residential development on the edge of the Wanaka township was expected to start in 2015.

And next Monday, a two-week hearing begins into an application to create a special zone for a proposed 1600-section subdivision on 222ha along Wanaka's northern boundary.

The same trend was evident in Dunedin, where the number of building consents issued - and their combined value - had both risen.

The total number of consents issued was up just 0.84%, from 2499 in 2012 to 2520 in 2013, mostly for residential work, council building consents team leader Robert Ramsay said.

However, the value of the consents issued was up 11%, from about $198 million in 2012 to $219.9 million last year, he said.

Stonewood Homes Central Otago director Mark Harry said sales were up 30%-35% on a year ago.

His company was getting new business from Auckland. He believed people there were selling while the value of their homes was high, retiring early and moving south.

His business was building about 40 houses a year in Wanaka and Cromwell, Mr Harry said.

He noted the new Highlands Motor Sport Park had boosted house building in Cromwell - particularly among motorsport fans, some of whom had a large disposable income to spend on a holiday home.

''I know that a lot of houses that were for sale got snapped up pretty much as soon as that park was finished.''

He believed the region was in for ''quite a big boom''.

Building consents in the Waitaki district fell by more than 70 in 2013, compared with the previous year, but Waitaki District Council regulatory services manager Lichelle Guyan said although volumes were down on 2012, the average value of those consents had increased in 2013.

In 2013, 577 building consents, worth a total of $47,288 876, were approved, with an average value of $81,956.

In 2012, 655 consents were approved, worth a total of $52,460,645, with an average value of $80,093.

In Clutha, building consents dropped from 532 in 2012 to 472 in 2013.

However, the overall value had risen nearly $3.8 million, from $31,011,769 in 2012 to $34,780,740 last year.

mark.price@odt.co.nz