Christchurch's biggest home builder is predicting about 7000 new houses will be built in Canterbury this year, breaking records set in the 1960s.
Mike Greer, of Mike Greer Homes, says the local building industry would have built up to 6000 new dwellings in 2013 and will easily surpass that figure this year.
Greer's company did $130 million worth of building work last year, constructing 550 homes throughout the region. It expects to build another 750 this year.
Auckland usually tops the country's construction statistics but Greer believes it is likely that there was more residential construction activity in Christchurch than in Auckland last year.
The Canterbury rebuild was "once in a lifetime" for the construction industry.
Brent Mettrick, of Stonewood Homes, said his company built about 400 homes last year and expected to do 400 to 500 this year.
A good portion of those new homes would be funded by insurance money.
Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend was in no doubt that this year would mark the real start of the rebuild, led initially by residential housing repairs and rebuilds.
"The first big, big impact on our economy is going to be the injection of insurance money through housing repairs into our community at a level we have just not seen at all up until now," Townsend said.
The Registered Master Builders Association of New Zealand, which monitors the number of building consents issued, still expects Auckland to keep slightly ahead of Canterbury on the building front.
Chief executive Warwick Quinn said he did not have figures on the number of houses that had been completed in Canterbury but expected final consent figures would show about 5500 new dwellings. He expected that figure would rise to between 6000 and 6500 this year.
Quinn expected Auckland to deliver between 6200 and 6700 new dwellings this year, putting it ahead of Canterbury.
Christchurch City Council housing committee chairman Cr Glenn Livingstone said the 7000 new homes would be a welcome boost to the city's diminished housing stock, but it was likely that the housing crunch would continue for some time.
The city needed new housing to replace earthquake losses but it also needed new housing to accommodate the influx of workers coming into the city to help with the rebuild.
It was questionable whether 7000 new homes a year was enough to meet those competing needs, he said.
Government estimates have put the number of houses lost as a result of the quakes and subsequent zoning decisions at 16,000
- © Fairfax NZ News
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