A global shortage of building materials combined with Covid-19 restrictions and a hectic building market is driving massive delays across Northland's construction industry.
Northland building companies and suppliers are reporting frustrating delays in products from timber to bathroom and kitchenware along with difficulties getting local supplies at level 3 and from a locked-down Auckland.
A sector-wide boom that has seen residential building activity steadily increase across New Zealand before the latest lockdown.
Dave Crabb from Circle D Construction in Kerikeri said there was a four-to-five-month lead time for certain materials to come through.
Cedar cladding, James Hardie products, and kitchen and bathroomware "have really big lead times", he said.
A "major building boom" in New Zealand along with shipping delays are contributing factors, he said.
"This started happening three months ago but the recent lockdown has amplified it.
"We have lots of work to do but sometimes we can't get materials.
"If we order them today we won't see them until at least January.
"With the latest lockdown and Auckland in level 4, we're running out of Gibb, Pink Batts...there's even a major shortage on timber.
"High-end international products are very hard to get; some fireplaces, kitchens and hardware that comes in from overseas."
Under alert level 3, construction workers could return to work with strict rules including signing into sites via QR codes and cleaning, hand washing and facemask protocols.
On Tuesday all of New Zealand, except for Auckland, moved to level 2.
Crabb said things would be better at level 2, whereas before builders had to make do with click and collect at suppliers like Placemakers, Carters, Mitre 10 and ITM.
It's not always clear what's available online and it's difficult if an item isn't in stock, he said.
"Normally we can substitute things, but ordering online you've lost the option of problem-solving on site."
Before the latest lockdown, building activity across New Zealand was on the rise, according to the latest Statistics New Zealand data.
The volume of building activity rose 2 per cent in the June 21 quarter, compared with the March 2021 quarter.
Residential building activity drove the increase, rising 4.2 per cent during this period, while non-residential building activity fell 1.5 per cent, construction statistics manager Michael Heslop said.
"Residential construction in the past 12 months has been strong, following historically high levels of new homes consented in recent quarters.
"The June 2021 year has also seen fewer direct impacts from Covid-19, with no alert-level 4 lockdowns like we saw in the June 2020 year."
Classic Builders Whangārei operations manager Kane Thorne said there was a shortage "across the board on a lot of things".
"Not being able to get product out of Auckland is the next biggest hurdle.
"A lot of big factories and supply chains out of Auckland can't manufacture at the moment so that's going to hurt everyone.
"If I order some types of cladding right now, I won't see it until March or April next year."
Bigger companies that have numerous jobs on the go at once won't suffer so much, but "I can imagine the smaller guys are really getting held up", Thorne said.
"Between now and Christmas will be the hardest time for building."
ITM Bay of Islands director Stephen Gray said the Waipapa-based store had a "buffer zone" of normal product on the shelves, which is being sold down at the moment.
But for specialty products "it's just a waiting game".
This includes insulation and locally assembled products that require parts from offshore, Gray said.
"You could be waiting anywhere from four to five months for certain products.
"It's very much Covid-related.
"It's definitely putting an extra bit of strain in there.
"It's a very busy building market, global demand is high for building products and you've got things like people not spending on tourism so they'll invest locally in toys and housing.
"I don't see a fix to it anytime soon. It's about global demand and New Zealand is getting a slice of it."
The Government yesterday agreed to allow some building product manufacturing in Auckland during the lockdown to support continued residential construction activity across New Zealand.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson said changes would be made to the Health Order to allow the manufacturer of plasterboard, gypsum plaster, coated roofing steel and insulation under level 4.
Sean Breckon from Breckon Builders in Whangārei said Auckland's lockdown was "having an effect on us pushing back lead-times".
"Some products from Australia, like James Hardie, are out to 20 odd weeks. Even some New Zealand products are out by 20 weeks.
"We just have to plan ahead but it definitely makes it a lot more difficult.
"We want to get back to normal as soon as we can and to get our merchants open. To go in and get stuff makes it easier on everyone."