The New Zealand construction industry is suffering from a shortfall of licensed plasters around the country, the latest report says.
The report adds that in some parts of the country, a lack of suitably licensed foundation specialists is also a problem.
In its latest overview of the New Zealand construction industry, the Department of Building and Housing says that while activity in the nation’s construction sector remained slow, encouraging consent data, especially in the residential building, means the sector is showing some signs of growth.
The Department says it also expects further increases in overall construction activity and related employment as work associated with the Christchurch rebuild continues to gain momentum.
But while the nation has sufficient numbers of licensed tradespeople to meet current demand in most industries, the Department’s report suggests a shortage exists in some trades and some regions.
Under recent changes to the Building Act 2004 designed to encourage better building and construction practices throughout the country, all forms of ‘restricted’ building work have had to be carried out by a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP) as of March of this year.
Categories of LBPs include designers, carpenters, roofers, external plasters, brick and block layers and foundation specialists, each of which has its own license class.
Overall, the Department says, its target of 10,000 licensed practitioners across all trades has been met, and that there are a sufficient number of licensed practitioners within most classes across most regions. However, shortfalls exist in the external plastering and foundation specialist categories.
With regard to external plastering, the Department says a shortage of licensed practitioners in the field extends across all parts of the country except for the Bay of Plenty, Otago and Southland.
Similarly, in the foundation class, the Department says there is a shortage of licenses throughout most of the South Island, and that the Nelson, Tasman, Marlborough, Canterbury and West Coast regions are all well below target numbers.
The new rules in the Building Act represent part of efforts to lift industry standards following decades of poor practices.
Since the mid-1990s, thousands of homes have been built which do not meet required national standards for weathertightness.
In a speech to the Building Officials Institute of New Zealand Annual Conference earlier this month, Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson lambasted the industry’s performance in delivering safe and properly constructed buildings, describing the sector as one of the ‘least productive and least efficient’ contributors to the New Zealand economy.