Canterbury building activity gathering pace

By Ben Chapman-Smith

Residential building activity in Canterbury is still at pre-quake levels but non-residential activity is approaching the peaks of mid-2009. Photo / NZH
Residential building activity in Canterbury is still at pre-quake levels but non-residential activity is approaching the peaks of mid-2009. Photo / NZH

Building consents approved in Canterbury in the first half of 2012 valued almost the same as all consents issued last year, latest data shows.

A Statistics New Zealand report out today showed almost $1 billion of residential and non-residential building consents had been granted in the first six months of 2012.

That compared with about $1.2 billion in all of 2011.

Overall building activity was still below pre-quakes levels, but non-residential building activity was really starting to grow, said Statistics NZ project manager Clara Eatherley.

"We are seeing more consents coming through but we're also seeing slightly larger valued consents. These are primarily non-residential consents."

Of the consents issued in the first half of 2012, $404 million was for non-residential building work.

Residential consents had been slower to rebound and activity was still below levels seen before the quakes.

Eatherley said overall building activity was far from "all go" but there was definite growth.

"I'd say it's starting to show signs that things are happening. We're certainly seeing positive signs, particularly in Waimakariri and Selwyn districts."

But it was important to remember that consents are only an indicator of future building activity, said Eatherley.

"It's almost like a confidence measure. Some of those consents might not go ahead."

Rebuild activity was largely being funded by insurance claims, said Statistics NZ.

New Zealand insurance companies had made $15.7 billion worth of claims on overseas reinsurers for all the Canterbury earthquakes.

As at March 31 2012, about a quarter of these claims had been settled with overseas reinsurers.

Statistics NZ said there were $11.9 billion worth of claims outstanding.

In addition, at least $4 billion of insurance claims have been made on the Earthquake Commission over and above the international claims.

Statistics NZ said it did not know the value of claims on New Zealand insurance companies.

Building consent results for the June 2012 quarter will be published on 5 September.

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