Residential building consents steadily grew throughout 2012. The year ended with 16,960 consents being issued in the 12 months to December 2012, an increase of 24 percent on the year earlier. Most of this steady growth was due to an increase in residential building consents in the South Island.
As shown in the figure below, the Canterbury, Nelson and Otago regions led the way. In the 12 months to December 2012, 4,030 consents were issued in the Canterbury Region, while 990 and 285 consents were issued in the Otago and Nelson regions respectively.
For Otago and Nelson, these figures may signal a return to a level of building activity previously witnessed in the last quarter of 2010. While in Canterbury, most of the growth in new building consents continues to be in the Waimakariri and Selwyn districts. These two districts are central to the rebuild of the Greater Christchurch urban area as they are key areas for people relocating from the red zone areas in Christchurch City. In the last three months, there were 494 new houses consented in the two districts compared to 358 consents issued in Christchurch City.
Non-residential building consents in contrast remain flat. In the year to December 2012, the number of non-residential consents was 12,790 just 2.4 percent higher than 12 months ago. The value and area of non-residential consents were both up on year-earlier figures, but still very low compared to pre-2008 levels.
The continued ‘flat patch’ in non-residential construction can also be observed in employment numbers. If we compare the 12 months to December 2012 with the 12 months to December 2011, employment in the building and construction industry was down 7.7 percent, with declines across most occupations employed in this industry.
The number of technicians and trades workers was down eight percent, while the number of machinery operators and drivers, and labourers was down 4.8 and 35.4 percent respectively. Across the regions, Canterbury, Taranaki and Hawke’s Bay were the only regions not to experience a decline in employment during this period.