NZX-listed retirement giant Ryman Healthcare is building more New Zealand homes by dollar value than anyone else, erecting and planning places worth nearly $900 million in the last year, a new report says.

Pacifecon Building Intelligence, the Auckland-headquartered business which researches and reports on activity in the construction sector, put Ryman at the head of its national top 200 residential builders' list.

Gordon MacLeod, Ryman Healthcare chief executive. Photo/Nick Reed
Gordon MacLeod, Ryman Healthcare chief executive. Photo/Nick Reed

Ryman has a sharemarket capitalisation of around $5.5 billion. Chief executive Gordon MacLeod said in November: "Four years ago, Ryman had a total of 16 staff dedicated to development and design. Today we have a team of 60, including specialist teams concentrating on design concepts, construction design, visual design and a new team dedicated to interiors."

Pacifecon said Ryman had 39 projects on worth $899.9m between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018 and the average value of each project was $23m. Not all of Ryman's work is residential because it builds other village amenities. Ryman did not feature on the top-15 Auckland list.

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David King, Ryman's corporate affairs manager, said of the Pacifecon data: "We're not quite sure how they calculated the numbers, but we're certainly busy. There is a bit of an anomaly in that we don't feature in the Auckland numbers, where we are busiest and have been for some time."

Ryman completed three Auckland villages in the last year - Bert Sutcliffe in Birkenhead, Possum Bourne in Pukekohe, and Logan Campbell in Greenlane, King said.

"In addition, we have been working on two new large villages - William Sanders at Devonport, and Murray Halberg at Lynfield. We were also building at Charles Upham in Rangiora, and Bob Scott in Petone during the period they measured," King said.

Ryman planned a further nine new villages in New Zealand, including at Lincoln Rd, and Hobsonville in Auckland, as well as seven new villages Australia's Victoria.

"The reason we are so busy is that we are experiencing strong demand for our villages and we're only expecting it to grow as the population ages," King said.

Stonefields in Auckland where Fletcher Living has built homes.
Stonefields in Auckland where Fletcher Living has built homes.

BCI New Zealand also collects and releases data on the country's top builders.

G J Gardner headed its November 2017-October 2018 table, with 1246 homes built nationally for an average $377,163, followed by Mike Greer Homes' 675 places averaging $291m, Kalmar Construction's 612 residences averaging $76,000, Classic Builders' 556 residences averaging $320,000, Fletcher Residential's 383 homes averaging $256,000, Signature Homes 328 averaging $421,000, Jennian Homes' 309 averaging $411,000, and Downey Construction's 292 averaging $171,000.

Pacifecon said Fletcher Construction ranked second to Ryman nationally, with 264 residential projects worth $867m but a much lower an average value of just $3.2m per project. In Auckland, Fletcher ranked as number one by total value.

A Fletcher spokesperson said that the business did not know how Pacifecon determined its numbers so found it hard to understand the 264 projects and the average price per project.

"Fletcher Living - not Fletcher Construction - would consider ourselves to be the busiest builder in Auckland, and the third in New Zealand behind Ryman and GJ Gardner. We are aiming to build and sell more than 900 homes this year in Auckland and Christchurch," the Fletcher spokesperson said.

Plans for Changda's big Manukau scheme. Photo/supplied
Plans for Changda's big Manukau scheme. Photo/supplied

The Herald was provided with the top 15 house builders for New Zealand and Auckland. Data showed total value, the number of residential projects, and average project value.

Pacifecon listed the country's third-busiest house builder as the franchised G J Gardner, carrying out $839m worth of work on 975 New Zealand projects worth an average $861,000 each. Grant Porteous of Deacon Homes, which owns the master franchise for G J Gardner, questioned the ranking. The business "remains not only New Zealand's number one building residential group at this present time, we do so by a significant margin".

Pacifecon listed Changda Construction with $744m worth of work on 10 projects worth an average $74m each as the fourth largest. Changda from China has projects at Pacific Heights in Orewa and Manukau's Pacific Gardens.

Retirement business Summerset ranked fifth with $741m worth of work on 37 projects nationally with a $20m average value, followed by Metlifecare (Auckland) with work valued at $679m on 25 sites and an average $27m/project.

In Auckland, Fletcher Construction was listed as number one, followed by Changda, Metlifecare, Oceania Group, CMP Construction, G J Gardner Homes, Universal Homes, Haydn & Rollett Construction and Arvida Group.