House builders warned of shoddy work

LIZ MCDONALD AND JAMES WEIR
Last updated 10:55 31/07/2014

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Canterbury the house-building capital

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House builders have been warned against risking shoddy workmanship as Canterbury becomes the construction capital of New Zealand.

Last month, Canterbury councils consented 623 new homes, more than any other region including Auckland.

The Canterbury figure was up two-thirds on a year ago and the most since electronic records began in 1990, according to Statistics New Zealand.

The average value of the homes, not including land, was $325,000.

Alistair Miles, president of Canterbury Registered Master Builders, said the industry was "coping, just" with the amount of work. "But we'll have to see what transpires when these consents filter through in the next few months."

Miles warned against house-building firms and contractors taking on too much work too fast.

"There's definitely some companies who have over-committed, and there can be an impact on quality. If they don't have good quality control systems, there could be problems down the track," he said.

One firm to have admitted struggling with rapid expansion is Stonewood Homes, which this month doubled its warranty after complaints about workmanship.

The consent figures, from Statistics New Zealand, show 6713 new homes approvals in Canterbury in the past year and 16,500 since the earthquakes began in 2010.

ASB bank economists said the June consents suggested the Canterbury rebuild was now "firmly on track" after a weaker patch earlier in the year.

"This increase follows some signs of softening over April and May and now suggests that house- building demand in Canterbury is bouncing back," ASB said.

While consent figures were also up nationally, the trend remained well below levels seen a decade ago. For the June year, Auckland housing consents were about 6800, still below the 9000 estimated to be needed to keep up with forecast population growth.

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