Renovation work - rather than new builds - remains the "bread and butter" for many Rotorua builders, as new figures show residential building consents in the city on the rise.

Rotorua Lakes Council issued 83 residential building consents last month, at a total value of $3.8 million. That compares with 66 consents worth $2.5m in February 2016.

Local builder Steve Wright said he had been flatout through February.

Although his company worked in new house building and commercial construction, a lot of work had come from home renovations, alterations or additions.


Bathrooms were the most common area people were getting work done, he said.

"We're old-school builders, so we do a bit of everything," he said.

"A lot of people are looking at the cost of houses and thinking there's no point in selling, they might as well improve where they are."

Duncan Gifford from Gifford Builders said his company had also been kept busy.

He said there was a mix of renovation and new builds however renovations had been their bread and butter for the past four to five years.

Mr Gifford said people had all kinds of renovation work done, mostly kitchens and bathrooms.

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"Generally they're past their use by date and they need a bit of modernisation," he said.

But despite the increase in consents, companies who sell home packages remain concerned about the lack of land available for subdivision.

J Hodges Construction owner John Hodges said regardless of the activity it has "for the most part, remained pitiful".

He said without land being turned over for subdivision, he could not see it improving.

A spokesperson for David Reid Homes mirrored these concerns.

"All of our sub trades are fairly busy, and we hope that will continue," they said.

However a lack of subdivision would put a "real constraint" on the future of new housing.

A spokesperson for the council said the number of consents for new builds was on the rise.

"Additions and alterations (includes things like decks, installation of fireplaces, remodelling, extensions) have accounted for most of the consents issued in recent years but the number of consents for new residential dwellings has been increasing."

In 2016 there were 107 consents issued for new residential dwellings, up from 76 in 2015 and 75 in 2014.

The council said it had been in discussion with several landowners who were considering subdividing, since June last year.

"The District Plan provides opportunities for subdivisions in several locations around Rotorua and there is potential, in total, for more than 1000 lots."

Commercial consents were down $8.8m compared with February last year, due to Whare Aroha's dementia care facility and Lynmore Junction both being approved last year.

Subdivision consents processed by Rotorua Lakes Council since August
Collie Dr - 33 lots
Pukehangi Rd - 37 lots
Baxendale - 24 lots
Pioneer Rd - 12 lots
Paeroa Down - 11 lots

Building consents issued
February 2017
Commercial - 12 consents worth $1m
Residential - 83 consents worth $3.8m

February 2016
Commercial - 13 consents worth $9.8m
Residential - 66 consents worth $2.5m

- Rotorua Lakes Council