Building and Construction

Positive start to 2012 for building sector

Tuesday May 08, 2012 Fiona Stokes

Now that the numbers are in for the first quarter of 2012, it can be seen that there has been a steady improvement in the number of residential building consents issued. In the last quarter of 2011 3,760 residential building consents were issued. In the first quarter of 2012, this number has crept up to 3,860. However, any enthusiasm in regards to an up-turn in the industry needs to be treated with caution - 2011 was not a good year for the building construction industry - and any improvements in the numbers or our forecasts are coming off a low base, as shown in the figure below.

In March 2012 the annual total of residential building consents was sitting at 14,650. This is only a slight improvement from the annualised total seen in March 2011, and the 15,380 recorded in March 2010. All of these numbers are still well below the 25,000 consents for new dwelling units considered to be the level necessary to meet population growth. 

In October 2010, we forecast a return to an annual rate of 20,000 consents for new dwelling units by the end of 2011. Of course, the February 2011 earthquake intervened. Given the current environment, and the absolute necessity that some progress is made in re-building Christchurch (not to mention rectifying the shortages in Auckland) we are now forecasting an annual total of 19,500 for calendar 2012.

The 12-month running total for non-residential building consents sat at 12,630 in March 2012. This means when we compare the last 12 months with the previous 12 month period, non-residential building consents were down 4.6 percent. However, if we look at the March 2012 quarter and compare this with the same quarter last year there has been a 5.3 percent increase in non-residential building consents. This mixed bag can be seen in the figure below.

Looking at the various building categories, the biggest changes have come from the number of consents issued for farm buildings, up 15 percent this quarter compared to the same quarter last year and up five percent on the year. The number of consents for factories and social buildings were also up on the quarter, by 12 and two percent respectively compared with the same quarter last year.