Whanganui firms busy with residential and commercial building work

Construction activity is on a high around New Zealand, with Whanganui firms getting a slice of the action.

Jamie O’Leary, of Jamie O’Leary Builders and Stonewood Homes, said his firm is experiencing its “longest incremental high in living memory” with work in Whanganui and around the wider region.

“It’s really good – we are doing bloody well,” Mr O’Leary said.

“It’s been steady with a high level of activity and inquiry and actual work on the ground. Probably an issue moving forward will be land to build houses on.”

Mr O’Leary said about 30 to 40 per cent of inquiries his firm received were from New Zealanders wanting to relocate to Whanganui, with Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington residents, in that order, generating the most inquiries.

“We’ve also had a few locals repatriating from Tauranga and Hamilton in the last few months,” he said.

“Some are coming back to retire and want the quality of life.

“About 10 to 20 per cent of inquiries are from overseas and these are mostly expats with young families coming back to live. The other 50 per cent of queries are from locals moving up the property ladder.”

Mr O’Leary said while the workload had increased, many younger tradespeople had started their own businesses and were sub-contracting to his firm and other builders.

“There is increased activity and increased new faces in the business with the younger tradies who are happy to do labour contract work for the likes of us and other builders.”

While there was currently a high level of construction activity in Whanganui as well as around New Zealand, Mr O’Leary said a downturn was inevitable.

“Our industry is a cyclical beast and what goes up must come down but I’m trying not to think like that at the moment.”

Glenn Wadsworth, of W&W Construction, said his company’s biggest local project at present was the library refurbishment at Wanganui Collegiate School.

“We’ve also got some other bits and pieces on around Whanganui and four or five irons in the fire for bigger projects in the $2 million to $3 million bracket in the coming months,” Mr Wadsworth said.

“Our big projects at the moment are out of town. We’re building 18 villas for a Bupa retirement village in Palmerston North and we’re doing a large reline of a rest home in Stratford, also for Bupa. We’re also doing the redesign and reroof of the South Taranaki District Council’s main office complex in Hawera.”

W&W Construction has the contract to build BP service stations and will be starting one in Dunedin. They have built one in Christchurch and may have another on the books soon for that city.

“For those jobs, we send a project manager and a health and safety guy from here and hire locals to do the work,” Mr Wadsworth said.