The housing construction boom could soon reach its ceiling due to the shortage of materials and workers

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There may be a construction boom, but a shortage of materials and subcontractors would make it difficult for smaller construction companies to complete projects.

Builder Rigo Varu, of R&B Construction in Beachlands, Auckland, ordered the plasterboard he needed six months before a job, but it still wasn’t enough.

He has placed the order for a job he is due to build in April, but has already been told it will take at least May before he receives it.

He is also considering a 12 to 15 week wait time for pre-nailed timber framing. This means telling his client that the job will have to be put on hold.

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“It’s just crazy. You try to get an estimated arrival time and work backwards to give your client a start date, but that’s a gamble,” he said.

Material shortages and ever-rising prices make it difficult to price a job, builders say.

Ross Giblin / Stuff

Material shortages and ever-rising prices make it difficult to price a job, builders say.

Varu said it was common for builders to drive a trailer around Auckland stopping at various supply yards to pick up bits, hoping to get whatever they needed.

“It’s a roller coaster in search of materials. Sometimes they are there, sometimes not. »

Varu said he tried to stay away from big jobs, sticking to renovations and smaller houses, so he could be sure he could acquire all the necessary materials.

Smaller construction companies have to delay work, which means it takes them longer to get paid.  (File photo)

Andy Jackson / Stuff

Smaller construction companies have to delay work, which means it takes them longer to get paid. (File photo)

Master Builders Association chief executive David Kelly said having to try to stockpile materials months before a job has put pressure on small construction companies.

“The fear of smaller builders is that they don’t have the cash to buy and stock these materials in advance, and consumers aren’t willing to pay that far in advance either.”

Kelly said the construction industry has likely reached capacity in terms of the number of workers available and the availability of materials.

“I think it would be difficult to build more houses than there are now. To increase production would require a change in method, such as off-site construction.

Pre-nailed timber is one of the materials that builders struggle to find in Auckland.  (File photo)

Mark Dwyer / Stuff

Pre-nailed timber is one of the materials that builders struggle to find in Auckland. (File photo)

This month, Fletcher Building subsidiary Winstone Wallboards announced that it would not be taking new orders for plasterboard from retailers until June.

Are you a builder who has had supply problems? Contact [email protected]

Fletcher’s building products managing director, Hamish Mcbeath, said its Auckland plants were making plasterboard around the clock.

He said Thing Winstone Wallboards shipped enough wallboard for 1,000 new homes each week. A new factory is under construction in the Bay of Plenty, but it will not be operational until next June.

Watercare typically sees 5,000-6,000 new home logins each year, but last year that figure skyrocketed to over 10,000. (File photo)

Andy Jackson / Stuff

Watercare typically sees 5,000-6,000 new home logins each year, but last year that figure skyrocketed to over 10,000. (File photo)

Meanwhile, the number of new homes being built in Auckland has skyrocketed.

The number of building permits issued each year has steadily increased over the past five years, from 10,867 in 2017 to 20,529 in 2021.

However, it wasn’t until last year that these growing numbers of consent actually translated into more homes being built. Watercare figures for new home connections showed a sudden increase in 2021.

Despite the closures, last year there were 10,956 new single-metered domestic water connections. This was more than double the 5,123 new connections in 2019.

Small and large construction companies Stuff spoke to said stockpiling contributed to a shortage of materials, but none said they stockpiled material themselves.  (File photo)

Andy Jackson / Stuff

Small and large construction companies Stuff spoke to said stockpiling contributed to a shortage of materials, but none said they stockpiled material themselves. (File photo)

Bret Robinson, of Fowler Homes in South Auckland, said his new build inquiries had quadrupled after the 2020 lockdown. He was “full” all last year.

He said conditions were difficult as engineers and contractors were also in high demand, slowing down projects.

Sole entrepreneur Jordan Alomari, of Kallisto Construction in Whitford, has a kitchen job next week but his plasterboard order had not arrived.

“The work will have to be suspended and I don’t know when I will receive it.”

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