Builders positive after industry slump

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 12:00 10/01/2014

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Manawatu's building industry was one of the hardest hit in the country by the recession and it will take time for it to recover, a leading Manawatu builder says.

Data released by Statistics New Zealand yesterday showed the number of building consents issued in the region dropped slightly in October and November after a solid year to September.

There were 13 new building consents issued in Palmerston North in November, seven in Manawatu District and just three in Horowhenua.

However, when compared with 2012, building consents in the year to November went up in the region by close to 20 per cent.

Manawatu Master Builder's Association president Steve Brown said the region's builders were still battling, but there was light at the end of the market tunnel.

To pull the region out of the slump the local industry had to work as a team to promote building as an option, and Manawatu's councils needed to be less pedantic about inspections, Mr Brown said.

"It's going to start happening, it's going to be a lot slower in Manawatu but the market will start to pick up.

"People are no longer scared of losing their jobs and that is the biggest thing that holds people up when it comes to deciding to make an investment in building."

Mr Brown said the slight drop in recent months could be partly explained by the Reserve Bank's refusal to exempt new builds from new lending restrictions.

The bank made a U-turn on that decision last month after the building industry raised concerns that the restrictions on low-deposit loans would hit the number of homes being built, affecting the Government's efforts to increase the supply of new homes to help curb house price inflation.

But through all the rigmarole of that "stuff up" Mr Brown said he was busier than he had been in a while.

"At the beginning of last year I was working no more than a month ahead and now I'm working five months ahead, so it's warming up. All the indicators say it's going to happen and I think it will.

"The year ahead is looking positive."

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- Manawatu Standard

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