Big projects demand skilled workers to help with rebuild of Christchurch

Auckland builders, engineers, architects, project managers and quantity surveyors are being sought by a Christchurch firm to help with the city's rebuild and insurance repairs.

Roy Hamilton and Logan Townsend of Christchurch's Maxim Projects were in Auckland this week to lease premises on the city's fringe and hire staff to work on big housing and retirement village projects. Some staff will remain based in Auckland, but work full-time for Maxim, they said.

The business has talked to Kiwis living in Saudi Arabia, Africa and elsewhere who want to return to help with the rebuild.


"Eighteen months ago, it was Logan and I and now we have 55 staff and over $1 billion worth of construction activity, building and development work," said Hamilton, an engineer who worked with Beca for many years.

Two or three Auckland-based architects and civil or structural engineers, two quantity surveyors and about six Christchurch-based project managers are being sought initially, with an Auckland branch manager.

Maxim plans to build Highfield, a residential subdivision of more than 2100 houses and apartments on a 120ha site between Redwood, Belfast and Mairehau and Marshland. It has options on the rural-zoned land and has applied to fast-track rezoning. Maxim is also planning a 10-unit Darfield retirement village and the business is working on existing properties, having a contract for insurance repairs around Darfield, Kaiapoi, Sumner and elsewhere for clients of Farmers Mutual Group.

"We'd have about 100 driveways, paths and barns in the sub-$100,000 category and about 20 houses needing significant repairs in the $100,000-plus category," Townsend said.

Construction is the country's fifth-largest sector, employing 157,400 people directly and a further 42,245 in related services, a PricewaterhouseCoopers report released last year shows.

But the sector has been in the doldrums and Fletcher Building shares traded this week around $6.52 after Government figures showed building consents fell to a record low last year.

There were 13,662 consents issued for new dwellings last year, down 12 per cent from 2010. The value of residential consents fell 12 per cent to $4.9 billion, according to figures out on Monday.