Construction slowing – but still on growth track

Figures out from Statistics NZ on Wednesday on construction activity indicate slowdowns – but still growth – across all sectors, and specifically residential.

But an overall call on the direction of construction activity – residential & other, nationally & in Auckland, quarterly & annually – proves impossible. For starters, Statistics NZ doesn’t run actual residential figures for Auckland, just seasonally adjusted & trend, which longtime readers of these pages know I steer clear of.

Auckland construction (all sectors) jumped almost 15% from the March quarter to June last year, then plateaued for 3 quarters.

For the national picture of all construction sectors, looking back 4 years shows leaps in 2 years, lower growth in 2.

Residentially, the March quarter was the quietest since September 2015 but still showed growth.

The detail

Total building work put in place, March quarter: $5.28 billion ($5.6 billion & $5.5 billion in the previous 2 quarters, $5.16 billion in the March 2017 quarter)
Quarterly percentage shifts: Up 7.0% in the March quarter after 3 quarters of lower gains, a 10.9% rise in the March 2017 quarter and above-20% increases in the 3 quarters before that
Total all buildings for the March year: $21.57 billion, up $1.2 billion (5.9%) after leaps, since the $13.15 billion in the March 2014 year, of $2.5 billion (19.1%), $1.5 billion (9.5%) & $3.2 billion (18.7%)

The residential figures nationally, March quarter:

New: $2.92 billion ($2.71 billion in the March 2017 quarter), up 7.6% from the March 2017 quarter, the smallest quarterly increase since September 2015; increases in the last 3 quarters of 2016 were in the range of 24-28%, slipping to 14.8% in the March 2017 quarter
Alterations & additions: $568 million ($542 million in the March 2017 quarter), up 4.9%; this segment of the residential market has put $5-600 million of work in place in 9 of the last 10 quarters
Total residential: $3.49 billion ($3.25 billion), up 7.2%, the smallest quarterly rise over the last 3 years

The residential figures nationally, March year:

New: $11.78 billion ($10.82 billion), up 8.9% after a 22% rise the previous year
Alterations & additions: $2.31 billion ($2.23 billion), up 3.8% after a 12.9% rise the previous year
Total residential: $14.09 billion ($13.04 billion), up 8.1% after double-digit annual rises in the previous 4 years, including 21.1% in the March 2017 year & 26% in the March 2014 year

Auckland & Canterbury drive construction activity

Construction statistics manager Melissa McKenzie said Auckland & Canterbury accounted for $3 billion (56%) of the national value of total building activity in the March quarter: “Total
building work in Auckland was about $2 billion/quarter for the last year, while values in Canterbury were down from post-earthquake highs. However, these values were boosted by higher construction costs.”

In Auckland, she said, the value of residential building work had been growing strongly, with the March 2018 quarter value of $1.39 billion almost double that in the March 2014 quarter. Meanwhile, non-residential building work has shown moderate growth. Offices, education & accommodation buildings accounted for over half of Auckland’s $632 million total non-residential building work in the March 2018 quarter.

In Canterbury, the value of building work in the latest quarter was $941 million – the lowest quarterly value since the March 2014 quarter: “Residential building activity value in Canterbury has been generally falling since the March 2015 quarter. Non-residential building activity has been variable, but reached $440 million in the March 2018 quarter. The latest value was boosted by several projects on social, cultural & religious buildings.”

All buildings, March quarter: $2.02 billion (up 14.8% from $1.76 billion in the March 2017 quarter; the last 3 quarters have all been just over $2 billion)