Building boost in South Island

New building consent numbers were generally flat around the country during May, but the South Island, Otago and Canterbury all reported gains ranging from about 20%-40%.

If apartments are excluded from the overall 2125 new dwelling consents for May, seasonally adjusted new dwelling numbers rose 4.6% on May last year, but including apartments, the national figure declined by 4.6%.

Total consents for May were $1.2 billion, of $842 million for residential work and $370 million commercial; Otago's rose by $17 million to $52 million while Canterbury was up by $41 million to $195 million.

Registered Master Builders Association chief executive Warwick Quinn said the overall trend has stabilised, following two years of ''strong growth''.

He expects about 23,000 to 24,000 residential building consents to be issued in 2014, up from 21,300 in 2013 and 16,929 in 2012.

''The two main centres of Auckland and Canterbury still make up nearly 60% of all activity and this is expected to continue,'' Mr Quinn said.

Ten of the 16 regions in the Statistics New Zealand data released yesterday showed increases in consented dwelling numbers.

Canterbury was up by 111, to 605, and Otago up 42, to 145, on a year ago.

Canterbury's 605 consents, the highest number for the region during any month of the past year, were up 111 homes on May last year, a 22.4% increase.

Since September 2010, Canterbury consents worth $1.84 billion had been identified as quake-related, including 1951 new dwellings during that time.

While North Island consents slipped from 1278 to 1260, the South Island jumped by 172, or almost 25%, from 693 to 865.

Westpac senior economist Michael Gordon said there was an underlying improvement for the month, masked by a pullback in the ''volatile'' apartment units category.

The total consents fell 4.6% in May, which followed an upwardly revised 1.9% increase in April.

''In both of those months the headline figure was dominated by changes in apartment unit consents.

Having spiked up to 432 units in April, they fell back to an around-average 195 in May,'' Mr Gordon said.

Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith said the number of new dwellings consented was at its highest level since 2007.

''The figures are particularly encouraging in Christchurch, where the pace of the residential rebuild is growing month by month,'' Dr Smith said.

The 360 building consents issued in May 2014 was double the 172 issued in May last year and up from 356 in April - taking the total consents issued for the year to 3435.

''This is the highest number of consents issued in a single month or year on record, and confirms that the rebuild of Christchurch's housing stock is moving with pace,'' Dr Smith said in a statement.

ASB economist Christina Leung said excluding the more volatile apartment component, dwelling consents actually increased 4.6% over the month.

However, she sounded a note of caution, that for the year to May, the number of dwelling consents issued in Auckland totalled 6779, which was still below the 9000 houses she estimated would be needed each year in the region, over the next couple of years, to keep pace with population growth.



May. -

Nationally, 2125 new dwellings, including apartments.195 apartments, including 75 retirement village units1930 non-apartment dwellings




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