house building boom

PHOTO: NZ building consents. FILE

After seven record-breaking months of consents, New Zealand’s construction sector faces a big house building programme.

Housing consents in New Zealand continue to hit new records. The number of new homes consented hit a record 41,000 in March earlier this year, surpassing the previous peak set in 1974. And then something largely unnoticed but extraordinary happened. In the seven months since March, the number of new consents has continued to soar. Yesterday, consents hit a record 47,331 homes over the year to September according to StatsNZ. It’s a 25% increase in a year, outpacing the price increase over the same period and marking a sustained shift in the country’s housing sector as councils and homeowners have shown an appetite to build.

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Really, this is good news. Another way to look at the data is by 1,000 residents. The country has grown tremendously since the great construction boom of the 1970s, so it puts the current figures in perspective. As of last month, 9.3 homes were consented per 1,000 residents. While not a record on that basis, the last time consents were that high was May 1977, when former prime minister Rob Muldoon was still in his first term. In July 2011, only 3 homes were consented per 1,000 people. A record low.

In Auckland, the number of homes consented rose almost 30% since last September, while multi-unit homes like flats and townhouses now make up more than half of new builds in that city and Wellington. With the construction industry facing staff and material shortages, whether those consents can be turned into built houses over the coming years remains a big question mark.