14 May 2021

Six-month wait for supplies and becoming worse, builders say

8:22 pm on 14 May 2021

Builders are having to wait nearly half a year to get supplies and say it's getting worse. This is putting a strain on finishing projects, at a time when New Zealand desperately needs more homes.

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File photo. Photo: 123RF

In Whangarei, builder Roland Mosley isn't having much luck planning ahead. He recently went to building supply store and asked for James Hardie products.

James Hardie is the largest global supplier of fibre cement material but Mosley was told he would have to wait 15 to 20 weeks.

"I think it's getting worse rather than better," he said.

"It's really the first time that the Hardies, or various suppliers, have admitted that they've got this sort of delay. Normally you just order it and hope but now they're actually giving a timeline that is that far out."

He said this brought constant delays.

"You sort of do as far as you can on one job, then you hit the wall because you haven't got whatever it is, and you move to the other one and you do what you can there. You can't put stuff up that we can't get."

Building Industry Federation chief executive Julien Leys agreed.

"We are seeing ongoing shortages at a time when the demand is showing no signs of lessening, so there are still people that are needing to build, wanting to build in both residential and commercial.

"The materials that they depend on - everything from fasteners, square washes, power tools, vanity tops, ladders, all those things, even door handles, are not coming into the country.''

Account manager Lucian Redman for Baypak in Napier, which supplies building accessories, said if builders could not get materials, he could see a decline in hand-in-hand product sales.

"For example, if there's no framing going up then your James Hardie rainboard isn't being stuck on then we aren't selling the flashing tapes or the vent strips and everything else that goes in with that and your cladding's then put on hold. The flow on effects of that are dramatic."

Tumu Group, based in Hastings, supplies timber over the North Island. It also runs the Tumu group of ITM stores on the East Coast.

Director Barry O'Sullivan said the timber shortage is brought on by both supply and demand, and it's not all due to Covid-19.

"In recent years, there's been a lot of rationalisation of sawmill closures which has limited supply but, on top of that, there's unprecedented demand and a lot of building construction going on," he said.

Julien Leys of the Builders Industry Federation said everyone had to pitch in to solve the problem.

"It is a serious problem, I think we all need to get our heads together on this," he said.

"I think industry needs to work with Government and we need to find a way of collectively just dealing with this ongoing logistics supply issue and also investing more into our road and rail infrastructure and ports."

One of the biggest problems in Aotearoa is the growing social housing waitlist.

Many Kiwis are living in emergency accommodation and some are overrun with crime, such as in Rotorua.

Some say the solution is to build more houses. But the demand for houses far outstrips the supply of building materials.

James Hardie was approached for comment but did not respond by deadline.

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