Wooden frame of a new house under construction against a bright sunny sky.
29 September 2021

Building consents skyrocket while building supplies dwindle

Forget the line at KFC when coming out of lockdown, Kiwis filing for consents is the real rush following restrictions lifting.

Since overseas trips have been taken off the menu – homeowners have been flocking towards building and renovating their homes.

Stats NZ publish monthly figures for building consents, and the numbers have skyrocketed. The total value of all residential consents is up 22 percent for the year up to the end of July. And, after a couple of years of downturn, renovation consents are up 16 percent with an excess of $2.2 billion worth of work approved.

Then there’s the myriad of jobs that don’t require a building consent. This is all putting an enormous squeeze on our supply chain.

Consumer NZ Test Team Leader James le Page reckons consumers eyeing home projects should expect to encounter delays and long wait times.

“There’s a ferocious local demand swallowing whatever stock might be sitting on shelves or in warehouses. For example, Pink Batts is a well-known local insulation company with its factory in Auckland. The latest lockdown forced it to stop the machines. By the time it finally resumed production – after receiving a dispensation from the government – all its existing stock had been snapped up and the company was left to clear a massive backlog of orders,” le Page said.

“Unfortunately, that’s the reality of the industry at present and we just have to wear it. The Pink Batts situation isn’t unique. We’ve seen shortages of framing timber this year as well, I experienced that firsthand on my own reno. The major challenge for potential home builders or renovators going forward will be long lead-in times for orders or finding alternative products. Know that if you order something today, you might only receive it next year.”

With builders and supplies scarce, consumer demand surging, and the huge range of decisions would-be renovators must make, Consumer NZ decided to dedicate the latest issue of its magazine entirely to being a guide to home renovation.

“The decision to make the guide was a no-brainer, really. Renovations involve making a huge number of choices and decisions, but there’s a scarcity of independent advice out there if you’re looking at making changes at your place. If you’re new to the process it can be overwhelming.

“This issue covers everything you should know if you’re planning a big, or not-so big, project at your place. From initial design conception through to hiring the right builders and securing finances and insurance, we take you through all the steps you need to follow for a stress-free reno.”

The DIY issue of Consumer magazine will be available from 11 October.

Member comments

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Elizabeth H.
02 Oct 2021

Good article but no link to the guide or info where to find it

Douglas P.
02 Oct 2021
Big chains don't want home builders

I am building a new house for myself using LPB trades. Because my build is one of, the big supplier chains are not interested. They accept my order, advise the lead time, and then when the lead time is up, advise that big customers take priority and that my order will be done when the larger customers have their needs meet. This circus with purchasing has lead to variations in materials and or suppliers used. The consent authority administrators then charge more that the material/design/architect variation cost!

B A S.
02 Oct 2021
Old homes are leak proof

mainly because the builders did the foundations, framing and flooring, a plumber/roofer did their job and the local joiner did the windows. Ours is a 1957 weatherboard house, mostly heart native framing and t&g flooring. The conrete foundations were poured in situ and the house probably took 3 months to finish. I have heard from local builders that the modern home is often thrown up and full of 'no more gaps' before decorating. A scarcity of quality materials is not helping the situation.

David C.
02 Oct 2021
Regualtory flexability?

It would be help if regulations reflected the reality of our ramshackle supply chains.

An example: a building permit requires that your specify the products you are going to use in your renovation by brand (in Dunedin, anyway), so if you can't get them, you need to go through some kind of exception process. That you can't list multiple sources for equivalent, compliant products just seems to be a perfect recipe for adding time and cost.

For my own renovation I plan to stockpile everything I need in my basement and then tell the draftsman and builder what we've got to work with, which is giving me a case of deja-vu with the old days of import licencing.

It's also a reflection of having handed off so much of our industrial capacity to overseas manufacturing sites at the other end of heavily constrained shipping routes.

Neville C.
02 Oct 2021
Bureaucracy and government gone mad

Conversing with the local planner, she said that they have to take the most restrictive view as required by law, including not yet active 10 year plans and where there is a conflict where something is legal under some rules they must use the most restrictive. Then there is A**** covering and engineers (some competent) and peer reviews. How come 20 ear old homes leak and 60 year old ones don't.