National has promised to make building materials cheaper, launching its construction policy just a day after two major reports highlighted huge challenges in the sector.
The party’s building and construction spokesman Andrew Bayly today said excessive regulation, worker shortages and disrupted supply chains were causing big productivity challenges.
National has pledged to support access to skilled construction workers by keeping apprenticeships and having “appropriate” immigration settings.
Bayly and housing spokesman Chris Bishop also said the party supported transferring the processing of Category 3 building consents to dedicated consenting teams.
That category referred to buildings 10 metres or greater in height, except single household dwellings.
National also said its plan would streamline building consents to make construction more efficient.
It said this streamlined approach would strengthen competition for building materials and ensure the sector could access the workers it needed.
The National MPs said the Building Code should be reviewed with a goal to introduce what it called streamlined risk-based consenting.
Bayly and Bishop said that type of consenting took into account the size and complexity of a development and the builder’s credentials.
“National’s plan for better building and construction harnesses digital technology to put building consents on a fast track,” the pair added today.
“National will require building consent authorities to accept video and photos for remote inspections to create a digital record of work.”
“Remote inspections are standard practice overseas and will drive substantial productivity gains.”
The MPs also said scaffolding rules should be reviewed to ensure those rules were fit for purpose.
Bayly and Bishop said the industry faced falling house prices, a slump in building activity and more construction businesses failing.
The party’s policy announcement was barely 24 hours after two sobering pieces of news relating to output and attitudes in the sector.
New home consents slipped 25 per cent in a year, and Master Builders said rising costs and high interest rates were creating nightmares for the sector.
Statistics NZ data showed 3,058 new homes were consented in July, down a quarter on July last year.
And in the Registered Master Builders’ annual State of the Sector survey, rising costs were cited as the biggest problem for builders.
Central government regulation was a problem for 65 per cent of respondents.
Council consenting was seen as a major problem by 50 per cent of respondents.
In the survey, Master Builders addressed political issues.
“Procurement is an area where Government can lead. They are already the sector’s largest client, but we want them to also be a smart client.”
The survey also said skilled labour shortages had been a drag for years - in its words, “a hot-button issue” raised in State of the Sector findings since 2016.