Builders in big demand

A huge increase in Queenstown Lakes building consents amid a huge upturn in demand for new homes has some Queenstown Lakes builders booked up to a year ahead.

The number of building consents looks set to more than double in some areas this financial year if the good times continue.

More than $114 million worth of building consents were granted in the district during the past five months, 33 per cent more than the district clocked up for the entire 2011-2012 financial year.

Stonewood Homes Wanaka director Mark Harry said his franchise, which covers Wanaka, Hawea, Tarras and Cromwell, had lodged more than 20 building consent applications since April, the same number as during the entire previous financial year.

The demand was from Southland farmers, locals and international clients, for entry-level properties, through to homes valued at $1 million and over.

There was also a "steady trickle" of people from Christchurch who had received their insurance payouts. They did not want the stress of building, but they were buying existing homes, enabling locals to fulfil their dream of building, Mr Harry said.

The turnaround started six months ago.

"I've been here for 10 years and I've never seen it so busy. We have followed Auckland's revival and talking to other franchises, it's pretty positive stuff.''

David Reid Homes Queenstown office manager Abi Mackenzie said demand had been huge, especially at Jacks Point, with twice as many builds under construction than a year ago. The new Remarkables School zone had been a huge draw card.

''We have a full 24 months of work booked ahead of us, probably two-thirds of our builds are in Jacks Point, the rest in Dalefield, Frankton and Arthurs Point,'' she said.

Inquiry had picked up dramatically in the past seven months.

Section prices at Jacks Point had dropped to a more reasonable $200,000 to $220,000 range, down from the previous $340,000 to $400,000 bracket.

Mac Construction owner Fraser Mackenzie said he was booked up for 12 months building everything from 280sqm homes up to a 520sqm property at Quail Rise.

Half of his clients were from Queenstown, many of them families upgrading.

Lakes Environmental building manager Peter Laurenson said 439 building consents had been granted throughout the district since July 1, the same number as during the entire year ending July 2012.

Consents approved during the past five months were valued at $114.6 million, compared with $86m for the whole 2011-2012 financial year.

Last month 108 building consents were approved, compared with 95 in November 2011. Last month's building consents were valued at $28.5m, compared with $20.5m in November last year.

Lakes Environmental resource management services manager Brian Fitzpatrick said the number of resource consents being approved was also rising.

Eighty-four resource consents were granted for the Queenstown Lakes District last month, compared with an average of 70 a month during the past year.

''I'm not trying to get too excited about it because the months do go up and down, but we are starting to see a bit of a trend.''

The Southland Times