The NZ contracting industry that services the residential housing market is modern, safe and well regulated, but is inefficient due to the sheer volume of work generated by the current housing bubble, particularly with roofing in Dunedin. As a consequence residential customers often find it difficult to locate suitably qualified roofers that are available, even to provide quotes.
The cost of building and maintaining homes has risen steadily over time, due to more stringent safety regulations, a shortage of skilled labour, increased cost of materials and increased cost of compliance with the Resource Management Act and similar regulations.
The introduction of stringent safety regulations with real teeth has forced builders and management to seriously address work practices, and has had a measurable positive effect on safety in the work place. These regulations were long overdue, and in reality the industry should have seen this coming decades ago. Any injury on a building site is patently unacceptable.
The shortage of skilled labour is a well known problem that has been around forever. The industry needs a good supply of qualified skilled workers coming into the system, and hence needs to have ensured that a good supply of young people entered into training and apprentice ships 5 or more years earlier. Failure to do that means that the industry has to compete on the world market for this qualified and skilled labour, which inevitably results in shortages and higher costs.
The industry has not invested in training and apprenticeships as it should have, and have effectively outsourced this role to other countries and to the individual workers. This ironically makes some economic sense to contractors, as any increased costs are simply piled onto the customers, and any delays simply means increased market pressure on customers to accept higher prices if they want the work done.
Increased materials costs are partly due to new regulations and partly due to scarcity due to the building boom. Increased costs of compliance with the Resource Management Act are the natural and sensible result of properly allocating the economic environmental costs, and likewise increased costs due to local council fees are the sensible result of properly allocating the cost of upgraded infrastructure.
The residential construction industry is ripe for disruption from overseas companies and building techniques that significantly shorten construction time, reduce construction costs, increase safety while still meeting environmental and local council requirements.