Builders in Whangarei are cashing in on much-needed business as the number of new homes being built in the district has increased by nearly 50 per cent in a year.

Prominent contractors have the lion's share of building works and industry leaders predict the building boom will linger for a while.

Figures from the Whangarei District Council reveal 313 building consents were issued in the first quarter of this year compared with 228 over the same period last year.

Most of the new homes are going up in central Whangarei and areas south of Otaika Valley.

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Former Taranaki dairy farmers Dave and Salley McEldowney moved to Whangarei in March 2015, bought a 0.4ha section in Parua Bay, and engaged Jennian Homes Northland to build their dream home.

"We've never looked at building before. It's been a great move up north and we wanted to build in a coastal area and we know we're getting a good quality house," Mrs McEldowney said.

She said they preferred building their own home rather than buying a property and spending money doing it up.

The three-bedroom, three-bathroom home and land package was close to $600,000.

Jennian Homes Northland director Brett Yakas said there was a real mix of people coming in the door, from retirees who have sold well and wanted to build their perfect retirement home, through to first-home buyers who saw it as a better option to build their own home than to try to bid against investors for an existing house.

The influx of Auckland investors buying in Northland had been steadily increasing over the past few months, he said. He said people saw building as the better option now.

The investors were buying the existing properties, which in turn was freeing up people's capital to build, meanwhile, those looking for a home were turning away from the competitive market and instead choosing to buy land and build.

"The average spend is still about the same as in recent years, but just a lot more people coming to us for what they want."

Mark Dobbs, Certified Builders Association Northern board director, said in most cases people's decision to buy and build stemmed from problems associated with leaky homes.

He said although a building boom was fantastic and provided work for local tradespeople, acquisition of land could become a problem as the number of subdivisions available was inadequate.

"We're still looking good for a while. The prediction a year or two ago was that we'd peak in 2017 and we're still at that timeframe. But to be fair, it's been a really good three years," Mr Dobbs said.

Council group manager Paul Dell said there was good evidence of an upswing in the market.

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