Christchurch builders get $32m contract
Christchurch's slow building industry has received a $32 million shot in the arm from a construction contract to a joint venture of Leighs Construction and Auckland's Dominion Constructors.
New Zealand's largest freight company, Mainfreight, has contracted the two family-owned, mid-sized construction companies as primary contractors for its Christchurch site's revamp and extension.
The contract is one of the biggest in the city since the earthquakes and will involve many local subcontractors.
It includes the building of a new food-grade warehouse and office administration block at Mainfreight's site in Sockburn.
Mainfreight managing director Don Braid said the company had planned the construction project before the earthquakes but put it on hold after them.
But with the delays to the rebuild and the company needing the facilities, it decided to go ahead.
"Hopefully, that is good for us with good pricing and good for our business, which we know it will be, but also good for Christchurch for that labour that is sitting around wanting some contracts to get under way, we are at least going to do so."
The contract was about $32m and he expected to see construction under way in the next three to four months.
The building project would take 18 months to two years and would provide employment for a good cross-section of subcontractors, Braid said.
The company's existing facilities were damaged in the early earthquakes, but there were no structural problems.
However, the buildings were due for a revamp and extension.
"We felt that the time was right, so we have got on with it, released the tender and had the drawings done and have awarded those projects to building companies.
"In terms of supplying material, we will try to use local suppliers wherever possible," Braid said.
Anthony Leighs, of Leighs Construction, said there was not much happening in the construction industry so this was a vote of confidence by Mainfreight in the region.
"Certainly I don't know of a larger construction contract that has been let in the last year.
"There are greenshoots but nothing more. It's early days [in the rebuild]," Leighs said.
The industry was waiting for the central city blueprint at the end of the month to bring a lift.
"The only expectation is that we are only meant to be using Canterbury subcontractors, absolutely Canterbury labour."
Christchurch needed strong partnerships like theirs with Dominion to rebuild the city.
Leighs is forecasting $70m of revenues in the year to March 2013 and has grown people-wise about 30 per cent to 80 direct employees and about 50 subcontractors in two years.
Brett Russell at Dominion said the company had a long association with Mainfreight having built its head office terminal in Otahuhu and freight warehouse in Mangere.
There was a strong subcontracting element to the Christchurch project."We have had a large number of local people price to us," he said.
At the project's peak up to 100 people might be onsite but there could easily be three times as many working on building component offsite.
* New freight terminal, 12,300sqm
* New offices, 1800sqm
* New food warehouse, 8800sqm
* Warehouse offices, 250sqm
* Warehouse extension, 6100sqm
* Workshop, 300sqm
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