More than $55 million in building consents was approved in August - about $3m more than the same month last year and pre-Covid-19.
The director of one of the Bay's largest residential building companies says the rise in consents is because buyers are eager to get into their first home and repaying a home loan was proving cheaper than renting.
Tauranga City Council's latest report showed 226 building consents valued at $55.7m were issued last month compared to $52.8m for 189 consents in August 2019.
Last month, 107 consents valued at $38.8m were issued for 116 new residential builds compared to 85 consents worth $30.4m for 82 new dwellings last August.
New Zealand Certified Builders told the Bay of Plenty Times' new Money publication 73 per cent of its Bay members recorded having six months' work or more in front of them and in some cases were booked a year ahead.
Chief executive Grant Florence said the work was split between major alterations and new builds with the rush likely because people were redirecting their spending.
Classic Builders director Peter Cooney said building consents had increased because interest rates were at a record low resulting in the huge demand for housing.
Cooney said purchasers, especially first-home buyers, were trying to take the opportunity to get into their first home.
"In a lot of cases, it's proving cheaper to purchase a home and repay the loan than it is to rent.
"The investor market is also strong with purchasing property being an attractive alternative to having money sit in the bank right now."
Sale volumes had been strong since lockdown, Cooney said, with August being an almost record sales month for Classic Builders' in 24 years.
"Our building schedule around the country was already very healthy and with these recent sales numbers, we are flat out and will continue to be for a while."
However, Cooney said although there was a hive of sales activity now, it won't last in many regions because the supply of land was so scarce.
"Despite the Government's intentions, the plans they have in play at the moment won't address housing affordability, especially in the Bay of Plenty.
"If supply is low then demand will be high and property prices will increase beyond reach."
Simon Anderson, chief executive of the Realty Group, which owns Eves and Bayleys, said first-home buyers and investors were weighing up their options between buying existing properties or new builds.
"Because there is a shortage of supply people are looking at all opportunities to secure a home, whether that is an existing home, a new build, or building themselves given how the market is behaving at the moment."
Remembering it takes some time to get a consent and some of it will be "catch up" but "without question, we are seeing people looking at their options".
"If anything there is going to be less supply going forward and it looks like this demand will carry on."
Bethlehem Baptist Church
The council report showed $2.2m was approved for alterations and additions to the Bethlehem Baptist Church.
The church's executive pastor Kyle Fleischmann said the project had been years in the making.
"We have basically run out of space in our cafe, office space, children's area," he said.
"This church is really a community centre so we're not just running out of space for us, we are running out of space for many organisations who use this space.
"We have always thought this is a community centre so we wanted to expand a bit, renovate and bring it up to date."
Fleischmann said the multi-stage project will likely be completed over the next two or three years.
"Stage 1 is going to double the size of our cafe and re-do all of our office suites," he said. "Our old staff suite is pushing 20 years old."
The church courtyard will be fully enclosed to become an extension of the children's area with a new coffee and food servery in stage 2.
At the same time, the kitchen will be renovated to include a bigger pantry.
"We are part of the Covid-19 response group right now as well," Fleischmann said. "So we need a bigger food pantry for the community."
The final stage will be the addition of a chapel.
"Our auditorium can seat about 150 so it is good for bigger events, but we need a medium-sized space for weddings and funerals that will hold more like 100 to 120.
"The chapel will be perfect for those types of events and any other organisation that wants to use that space as well as a prayer chapel for our congregation."
Fleischmann said the church was "definitely at capacity" pre-Covid and "pushing the limits" on some days with several hundred people using the cafe and auditorium on weekends.
"So it is really important to get some more space here so we can comfortably have more people on-site and to serve our community well."
Because the project had been "years in the making", Fleischmann said the church had most of the funds available. During Alert Level 2 restrictions the church has moved its congregation to online.
"We haven't been gathering on Sundays for the past few weeks. So we have had to switch to completely online. It has forced us to be innovative and really embrace the digital world."
Summerset by the Dunes
A total of $2.1m was also approved to build two blocks of two-bedroom, single-level dwellings with attached garages - eight dwellings in total - as part of the new Summerset by the Dunes retirement village.
The first four blocks - 13 villas - were completed last month and residents moved in last week.
Another four blocks - 11 villas - were under construction, and another is scheduled to start next week.
Summerset chief executive Julian Cook said research shows the number of people aged 75-plus in the Papamoa Beach area was about 2000 and was set to climb to more than 3200 by 2028.
"There's been a lot of interest in the village we're pleased with how the build is progressing. We're delighted to have welcomed our first resident already."
Cook said Summerset had invested $150m into the Papamoa retirement village, which was estimated to create around 60 jobs.
"During the build, we have about 13 contractor teams on-site and almost all are local tradespeople, which is another way we are providing jobs in the region."
Building consents - August 2020
Major consent applications issued value over $1m
6 Cross Rd
New boat building workshop and three-storey offices
100 Mirrielees Rd
Installation of shuttle racking
22 Manawa Rd
Construct two blocks of two-bedroom, single-level dwellings with attached single garages - 8 dwellings total. Block B12 - Villas 26, 27, 28, 29 : Block B15 - Villas 38, 39, 40, 41
73 Kings Ave
Erect single-level dwelling with four bedrooms, attached double garage and solid fuel heater
90 Bethlehem Rd
Alterations and additions to Baptist Church
70 Taitimu Rd
Proposed warehouse and office
- Source: Tauranga City Council