Builder expects surge by mid-2013

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 07:40 28/11/2012

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While the quake rebuild has moved more slowly than many were expecting, Leighs Construction managing director Anthony Leighs says real momentum should emerge next year.

From then, intense work would last five or six years, with the tail of the rebuild stretching out 10 years.

"We're starting to feel it now to be honest, and we'll feel it a bit more in the new year, but the second half of 2013 is where things will really kick into gear," Leighs said.

Leighs put in early hard yards with the rebuild project Re:Start in Cashel Mall, and plans to move his management team back to the city by the middle of next year. The company would like to play a role in some city blueprint projects, such as the justice and emergency services precinct.

The family trust-owned commercial construction firm, founded in 1995, won the 2012 Champion Canterbury medium to large enterprise professional service award last month. Leighs said it was now "winding out" of demolition work and concentrating on projects at Christchurch Hospital, St Margaret's College, Rangi Ruru Girl's School, a Moorhouse Ave retail block and other commercial sites.

Leighs Construction was forecasting revenue of $100 million for fiscal 2013/14.

Leighs has grown its management/leadership team to 65, with trades numbers also up. The company expects to move away from contracted and subcontracted labour.

"The demand on labour resources is going to be absolutely colossal. We want to be able to engage labour we can obviously rely on, have certainty on both around reliability and quality."

Leighs, who is chairman of New Zealand Registered Master Builders, said a recovery in the New Zealand economy was putting pressure on building labour around the country.

The company was also working to ensure tenders or bids were done "at the right price point" to make them commercially feasible. This included taking inflationary pressures into account.

"I believe there's going to be quite significant labour escalation, driven primarily out of the residential sector, once that really gets going."

Work had to be done to make sure the pricing was right for Christchurch. "This isn't Sydney . . . the whole equation has got to stack up. It's a combination of land value, appropriate design and appropriately priced construction," Leighs said.

While there has been much work around temporary projects to fill in city gaps, Leighs said it was now time to focus on the permanent building replacements.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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