Waitaki is experiencing a building boom.
Oamaru companies say they are facing unprecedented demand, with the increase in activity reflecting a confidence in the local economy.
One of the largest projects under way in Oamaru at present is McBrimar Homes’ Holmes Hill Estate subdivision.
Earthworks started in early 2019, and building of stage one started in October last year.
The 24 sections in the first stage are all sold and are on track to be finished by mid-2022, while stage two’s 14 homes were mostly sold and construction would start early next year. Stage three would include 19 homes, which would be listed for sale in spring.
McBrimar Homes managing director Mike Lowe said demand for building in Oamaru was fantastic, but all builders were experiencing the same problems – price increases and supply issues – due to Covid-19 and the “unprecedented demand” for building materials.
Over the past 18 months, McBrimar had expanded its team to ensure project lead times were not pushed out.
“We’ve just looked for other ways to ensure we can get them built because we don’t want to get lead times out sort of 12 months-plus,” Mr Lowe said.
It was clear the building industry was growing throughout the country but Oamaru appeared to be doing particularly well.
After lockdown, more young people were moving to Oamaru and there was always a steady number of people who moved to North Otago to retire, he said.
“There’s also a lot more people now wanting to get out of the big centres and a different pace of life. Obviously house prices [here] are significantly cheaper than in those centres,” Mr Lowe said.
“Oamaru’s a vibrant town, there’s heaps of cool stuff happening but it’s still got that quaint small town feel.
“There’s plenty of employment opportunities here, it’s a great place to raise a family, so I think Oamaru’s got a lot going for it.”
Nailing It Homes owners Peter and and Robyn Nind echoed Mr Lowe’s sentiments.
Mrs Nind said increased investment in Oamaru was positive for the town’s future.
“I definitely think it’s good for Oamaru. It’s a good place to live – we’ve got the sea, we’ve got the mountains, we’ve got the lakes . . . we’re pretty lucky everything’s on our doorstep,” Mrs Nind said.
Nailing It Homes was experiencing an influx of clients building and renovating homes and were booked until the end of next year.
“I think we’re lucky in Oamaru in the fact that a lot of people earlier in the year sold their homes . . . the property market up to that point has been pretty buoyant, so that was probably allowing them to step into something new.”
Materials were in short supply – products Mrs Nind ordered in January were yet to arrive – and everything was going up in price.
It was also increasing work for other trades and Mrs Nind said people were “shocked and stunned” when they wanted to renovate a kitchen, but many joiners were booked until next June.
Millennium Joinery company director Michael Sandri said his company had an even split between residential, commercial and renovation work.
“Overall, it’s been going a little bit crazy, to be honest,” Mr Sandri said.
But it was great for the town, he said.
“I think it’s fantastic. It’s always good for the community to have new people coming in to it and it’s always good having new houses being built and old ones done up. It’s a great thing.”
According to Statistics NZ, in the year to May, 182 building consents were issued in the Waitaki district, with a total value of more than $65 million.
Waitaki District Council economic development manager Gerard Quinn said having good quality housing in Oamaru made it easier to attract new residents.
The building boom would result in the quality of the district’s housing stock improving, and would make existing houses available to a range of buyers.
“It’s great to see people having the confidence to spend as the impact flows into lots of other parts of our economy,” Mr Quinn said.
“Growth is good, but we must ensure that the quality of that growth ensures that the environment is protected, we preserve or natural charter and identity, and that we cater to the variety of needs for housing.”