Still money for new homes in Otago

GJ Gardner Homes Otago apprentice builder Jason Bint installs a window at a new house on Pine...
GJ Gardner Homes Otago apprentice builder Jason Bint installs a window at a new house on Pine Hill. Photo by Jane Dawber.
Parts of Otago continue to show small increases in residential building activity as new dwelling consents issued across much of New Zealand's building sector slump to a 22-year low.

Statistics New Zealand figures show the number of new dwellings, including apartments, has fallen 42% nationally since mid-2007 as the housing sector cools to a backdrop of economic recession.

Since then, there has been a rise in unemployment in the building trades and many builders have been prompted to chase smaller renovation jobs to keep their businesses afloat.

However, there are still pockets of growth in consents for new dwellings in some parts of Otago.

The number of consents for new dwellings since mid-2007 at the Dunedin City Council had risen by 4%, Clutha District Council 42%, and the Central Otago District Council 2%.

Taken back over the last four years, the consent figures for these districts show increases of 14.5%, 30% and 41% respectively.

Consents at the Waitaki District Council remained relatively stable, and the only council to follow the declining national trend was the Queenstown Lakes District Council, which had decreased 20% since mid-2007.

GJ Gardner Homes Otago, Queenstown and Wanaka owner Laurie Mains said work was still coming in at sites all over Otago.

Although the cost of building a new house was slowly creeping upward, people continued to do it because improvements in technology and some of the changes to the Building Act had made new houses a "far superior product" compared with houses built eight to 10 years ago.

He said the number of new dwelling consents in Queenstown and Wanaka had declined because land was more expensive there.

"Areas doing well out of new housing are in places with affordable land."

Mr Mains was pleased the majority of Otago was able to buck the national trend because building was "absolutely necessary" for the local economy.

He said builders were more highly skilled now than they were 15 years ago and Dunedin was only just recovering from the skills loss of the 1980s.

Central Otago District Council building control team leader Stewart Geddes was delighted with the continued growth in his area.

"I think Central Otago will always continue to be positive due to . . . a relatively laid-back lifestyle compared to the cities."


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