Cost of wages pushes Queenstown building prices over NZ average

The average building cost in Shotover Country tends to be lower than other areas of Queenstown.
Dasha Kuprienko / Fairfax NZ

The average building cost in Shotover Country tends to be lower than other areas of Queenstown.

It costs almost 20 per cent more to build an average home in Queenstown compared to other places in New Zealand.

According to dwelling consent figures from Statistics New Zealand, the average building cost per square metre in the Queenstown Lakes district was $2268 in the year ended August 2016.

It cost $1827 per square metre to build in neighbouring Central Otago, while in Auckland it was $2081. The national average was $1908.

Shotover Country homes cost from $2000 to build.
Dasha Kuprienko / Fairfax NZ

Shotover Country homes cost from $2000 to build.

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Registered Master Builder president  Allister Saville, of Queenstown, said the cheapest houses in the resort would cost about $2500sqm to build and were in areas such as at Shotover Country.

Some of the most costly builds were in Millbrook, near Arrowtown, where a house would cost about $6500sqm.

Registered Master Builder president  Allister Saville, of Queenstown, says wages created a "major spike" in the building ...
Debbie Jamieson/supplied

Registered Master Builder president Allister Saville, of Queenstown, says wages created a "major spike" in the building cost.

Homes in Queenstown Hill or Jack's Point averaged more than $4000sqm, he said.

"They [Shotover Country homes] were about $1800sqm at the end of last year and they've certainly lifted their rates as well."

Wages had created a "major spike" in the building cost, Saville said.

Some of the houses at Queenstown subdivision of Shotover Country which were that sold at auction for $937,000.
Jeff Kennedy, JFK Images

Some of the houses at Queenstown subdivision of Shotover Country which were that sold at auction for $937,000.

"The cost of living in Queenstown is quite high and so to survive here you need a wage that matches what your cost of living is," he said.

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"For workers to stay here they probably need to be on the minimum of $20 an hour and not on what they've been up to until now." 

Many construction workers involved in the Christchurch rebuild were moving to Queenstown now.

Builders from Invercargill, two hours away from Queenstown, were also moving to the resort for work.

Southern Registered Master Builders president Craig Brown, of Invercargill, said one of his projects was in Frankton.

"There's a lot of Invercargill builders working there at the moment."

"Invercargill has been up and down and Queenstown has been steady for the last five or six years," Brown said.

Some builders lived in Lumsden and worked in Queenstown as the pay was higher, he said.

The building cost per square metre in Invercargill would vary from $1000 to $2500, he said.

Otago Registered Master Builders president Bill Hamilton said the cost per square metre in Dunedin went up about $500 in a "couple of years".

Stricter health and safety requirements, innovative insulation products and rising contractors rates influenced the price rise, Hamilton said.

​"Four thousand dollars [per square metre] would be the top dollar here [Dunedin]" he said.

The average cost per square metre was $1709 in Dunedin last year, according to Statistics New Zealand.

Saville said transportation difficulties also pushed the building price up in Queenstown.

"We are paying a lot more for freight and that has been put down to the Kaikoura earthquake.

"Queenstown is one way freight so nothing goes out of Queenstown."

Imported materials depended on the United States dollar, he said.

"The good thing about housing going on Shotover Country and Lake Hayes Estate is that it's all flat building, so the cost should be less than what we used to do originally on the side of the hill," Saville said.

The cost depended on the materials used, with bathrooms and kitchens normally being the most expensive rooms in the house.

 - Stuff

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