Building timelines blow out amid timber shortage

Friday 13 Aug 2021

Construction jobs are getting bogged down in delays due to a lack of timber and other building supplies.

With the New Zealand government considering an inquiry into the chronic shortage of timber and potentially even export controls, builders are speaking out about how difficult construction is right now. It is seen as one of the biggest handbrakes on the ambitious building programme needed to alleviate the housing crisis, which is fundamentally being driven by a lack of housing supply.

Jono Kraenzlin is a project manager at JCC Build in Hamilton, and said the situation is unlike anything he’s seen in 18 years in the industry. “Things that you’d order a week in advance, two weeks in advance, you have to order three months in advance, with no guarantees that you’re going to get them. And that’s just the start of it,” said Kraenzlin.

“Some products we’re getting ETAs of mid-2022 at the bare minimum, with no guarantee. It’s a massive problem and a growing problem – it seems to be a new product added to the list every week.”

The products in short supply include some of the basics of residential building but also some of the products being used to replace them. Kraenzlin said fibre cement and plywood products are currently hard to find. As well as that, supply of different timber sizes is inconsistent. “You can get 4×2, but you can’t get 3×2,” he said.

Kraenzlin said building companies, which generally secure materials through trade accounts with big supply companies, are currently facing a need to stockpile, with several supply firms not taking on new customers. As well as that, he said supply firms are “protecting” their top customers and their orders.

Multiple companies aren’t taking on new trade accounts this year at a minimum, which is completely different “compared to, say, six months ago when you’d have reps knocking on your door”. The stockpiling is contributing to panic in the industry, said Kraenzlin.

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Further coverage on building supplies shortages and current impacts can be read here and here.

Sources: the spinoff, Scoop

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