Bay building sector booming

The Bay's builders say their sales volumes have tripled in 2013 as the region's building sector takes off.

The news comes as figures released by Statistics New Zealand show building activity is also booming nationally. They report the highest monthly increase, 12 per cent, in national building activity for 10 years.

"Over the past seven years we have averaged two to three sales a month," said Bruce Matthews, sales consultant at GJ Gardner Tauranga. "But in the last couple of months it's just taken off. In April we signed nine new contracts and in May we did 11. That average of 10 a month is on course to be repeated this month and the next as well. Tauranga is currently the number one performing GJ Gardner nationally."

Mr Matthews said we were witnessing the start of another spike in building activity.

"We had spikes in 1998-2001 and 2004-2007 and I believe we're at the start of another one."

Statistics NZ revealed the number of Western Bay building consents issued in the 12 months to April was up 68 per cent on the previous year's figures.

The annual rise was not as dramatic in Tauranga but was still trending upwards. The number of Tauranga building consents issued in the year to April was up 4.4 per cent at 687. The average value of each consent had risen $33,000 to $290,000.

Wayne Phillips, New Home Consultant at Stonewood Homes Tauranga, said he had experienced impressive business this year.

"The level of sales has picked up dramatically this year. Our monthly average sales would be running at double or more than double compared to pre-Christmas rates," Mr Phillips said.

The hesitancy noted since the global financial crisis struck had disappeared, he said.

"Activity breeds activity. People are seeing others starting to build and so they're not scared to do the same. It breeds confidence."

To cope with the increased workload, Mr Phillips had taken on a new associate two months ago and was interviewing for a second to start later in June.

Blair Cardno, Statistics NZ industry and labour statistics manager, said the decade-high monthly increase in national building activity was part of a longer term trend.

"Activity in the residential building sector has been steadily rising, and by March 2013 we had the fourth consecutive quarter of growth.

"Looking long-term, residential building activity has been trending up since September 2011, and is now at a level last seen in late 2008. The trend for overall building activity is also close to the level of the September 2008 quarter, after recovering from the low point of 18 months ago."

Peter and June Hattie are a Papamoa couple who have taken the plunge into home-building later in life. The couple, married for 36 years, said they had wanted a home with plenty of room for visiting family on a low-maintenance section.

"We just wanted to go for it," said 78-year-old Mr Hattie. "At our age you don't want to hang about too much. We've owned a number of homes but this is our first build. That's why we got a proper builder as well, to take the hassle out of it."

The couple's four-bedroom home, which is being built by GJ Gardner, is scheduled to be completed by Christmas.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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