Double or nothing for new home builders and consumers as delays and shortages roll on

1 November 2021

FRUSTRATED builders – and their clients – are continuing to suffer the effects of long-running trade and materials shortages, with new home builds now taking twice as long to complete.

A September survey of Master Builders Queensland members confirms lead times are continuing to blow out, with some respondents reporting it’s taking them more than 12 months to construct a double-storey home.

The cost to build has also skyrocketed by 20 per cent over the last year, with timber and steel prices continuing to climb, and a shortage of sand now added to the list following issues with supply in Moreton Bay, impacting several big-name construction companies.

Master Builders Deputy CEO Paul Bidwell said the supply and cost issues were forecast to run well into 2022.

“There’s no doubt builders big and small continue to struggle with the fallout from the ‘perfect storm’ – the boom in demand off the back of HomeBuilder and the Regional Home Building boost grant, combined with low interest rates and record interstate migration,” Mr Bidwell said.

“There are a lot of very frustrated builders and clients out there – mostly in the housing sector, but the commercial sector is not immune.”

Mr Bidwell said the industry’s greatest fear – of businesses being forced to fold – may become reality in the coming months.

“The implications are dire. So far, we’ve not heard of any builders going to the wall as a result; but, based on conversations we’re having with builders, it will happen, most likely early in the new year.

“We’re particularly concerned for the small builders who don’t have the balance sheets to sustain a prolonged drain on cash flow. While opening the borders may ease some of the pressure on trades, it won’t solve our material shortages woes. Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet.”

The leading industry group is also pressing the Queensland Government to re-evaluate proposed changes to the 2022 National Construction Code, in particular new accessible housing provisions and changes to energy efficiency.

“Without addressing some very real concerns, these changes could not only introduce increased costs that neither builder nor consumers can afford and make little difference to those they are designed to help.

“We’re working at both state and national levels to get a clearer picture on the anticipated mandatory changes. We need to ensure the changes are practical and have a positive impact, as well as providing our industry more time to prepare,” Mr Bidwell said.

“We of course support the right for every Aussie to have a roof over their head, and sustainable building practices are key for the future.

“When it comes to updating the NCC, it’s essential we get it right the first time. As the old building adage goes, measure twice, cut once.”

To find out more about Master Builders’ campaign around the 2022 National Construction Code, visit mbqld.com.au/measuretwice

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