A survey of the construction sector has found a workforce ready to mobilise next Tuesday morning when the lockdown ends.
Pacifecon Building Intelligence today released the findings of its latest survey, saying: "The consensus is the construction guys are getting ready to come out punching once lockdown is lifted."
That tallies with Regional Economic Development and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones last week predicting a "mega-comeback" for the sector which completes work worth about $40 billion a year. Mark Binns, the chairman of Crown Infrastructure Partners, also said last week that he hoped for resumption of work nationally on sites by this Thursday.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has named construction as a sector able to operate again when level 3 is introduced next Tuesday.
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Pacifecon, with 30 people surveying the industry, found nearly 300 construction projects were hit by lockdown.
"Everybody wants to know what everybody else is thinking," it said of sector survey results, listing 369 new projects in early planning or tendering: 116 residential, 39 commercial, 37 education, 16 health, six industrial, 14 mixed use, 10 sport and 112 civil projects.
"One of the fears to be faced by developers is that once they can come back to work their contractors and subcontractors will no longer be available, either moving on to their next project due to timeframes, or being tempted away by higher dollars to work on other projects," Pacifecon said in commentary.
Some respondents praised councils for processing building consent applications fast: "It's like the councils have been told to ease up and process them quickly. There are substantially fewer consents being processed across the country," Pacifecon said.
Building inspectors have still been able inspect buildings that are necessary under the Covid-19 level 4 lockdown.
Larger developers and consultants have, or intend to, lodge building consents so that when the lockdown is lifted, they will be ready.
Developers are spending the time master planning and taking time to rework and reprioritise.
The larger industrial developers still sound confident, Pacifecon said.
"Tenders are still going ahead albeit the process is slower as co-ordinating people and information is more time-consuming with everyone working remotely.
"SMEs are apprehensive. Lots of planning is going on and there is major uncertainty about what will come out the other side," Pacifecon found.
Researchers are reporting a change in mood from general nervousness and uncertainty at the beginning of lockdown to greater confidence as time has gone on.
Health project construction continued during lockdown.
Subcontractors see the next few months as frustrating. Low business confidence is apparent. Some are wondering how they will get money in the interim when the amount offered by the Government is not enough, the survey found.
"We have heard reports of machinery and equipment stuck in projects. Many were not prepared, and felt they needed more notice and may struggle if other businesses go under."
"Few builders are reporting a full pipeline."
Some people in the sector are now thinking about early retirement.
Some businesses have applied for the shovel-ready funding, with most projects being civil.
Expansion delays have hit Auckland Airport and will therefore hit Auckland contractors. The international arrivals upgrade project is on hold and domestic terminal is on hold.
Both new hotels under construction at the airport are also on hold. One was being built by Naylor Love Construction and the other by Dominion Constructors.
The international terminal carpark project is also on hold, affecting Fletcher Building, Pacifecon said. All other projects with the airport as the developer have also been put on hold until further notice.
"In Christchurch there is a feeling of how much more can the city take? But chins are high."
Plans for the new stadium are going ahead with 2022 start and 2024 finish times estimated. The Te Pae convention centre will finish this year but might be repurposed. Not much development is happening in Christchurch, but planning is continuing.
Queenstown Lakes, almost totally reliant on tourism, will be the hardest hit in New Zealand by the Covid-19 crisis, the survey said. Mayor Jim Boult has already signalled the council will seek Government assistance with major infrastructure projects to stimulate the local economy.
Similarly, reportedly half the West Coast is not working because it relies on tourism.