By Greg Ninness
More New Zealanders are doing up their homes more than ever before with the number of building consents issued for alterations to dwellings hitting a record high in the second quarter of this year.
According to Statistics NZ, 6522 consents were issued by local councils throughout the country for alterations to dwellings in the second quarter of this year, the highest number in any quarter since Statistics NZ started publishing the figures in 1990.
However the average value per consent dropped sharply to $71,144 in the second quarter, from $84,941 in the first quarter of the year, although it was still up by 3.9% compared to the average of $68,335 per consent in the second quarter of last year.
But it is too early to say if the drop in average value in the second quarter of this year is part of a trend or just a one-off.
A building consent is usually only required for structural alterations to dwellings, such as adding a room or removing a structural support, but not for non-structural work such as repainting.
So the consent figures usually reflect major alterations to homes rather than simple redecorating jobs.
While the total value of dwelling alteration consents was at an all time high $1.841 billion in the 12 months to June, there were important differences between the main centres.
In the Auckland region, consents were issued for 1437 dwelling alterations worth $192.3 million in the second quarter of this year.
Although that was the highest number of consents issued since the third quarter of 2016, the number of consents issued for alterations in Auckland has been relatively stable for the last five years and remains below levels achieved in 1996 and 2004.
For the last two years the average value of alterations in Auckland has also been relatively stable, ranging from $142,357 to $156,897.
But in the second quarter of this year the average value dropped to $133,810, its lowest point since the third quarter of 2016.
However it is too early to say whether the fall in average value is the start of a trend or a one off aberration.
Alteration work plays a major role in the Wellington building market, accounting for 20% by value of all residential building work in the region compared to the national average of 13%.
In the second quarter of this year consents were issued for 846 dwelling alterations in Wellington, which was the highest it has been since 2003/2004, while the total value of those consents hit a record $61.6 million.
On an annual basis, the number of alteration consents issued in Canterbury is at a four year high, with 4318 issued in the 12 months to June, well up on the previous three years which ranged from 3299 to 3805.
However in the first two quarters of this year there has been a drop off in activity, with the number of consents in the second quarter down 26% compared to the second quarter of last year, while the value of alteration work consented in the second quarter of this year was the lowest it has been in any quarter since the beginning of 2013.
That suggests alteration work in Canterbury could be easing.
Alteration work is at a record high in Otago with 594 consents issued in the second quarter of this year, the highest number in any quarter since Statistics NZ’s records began in 1990.
That work was worth $27.2 million, also a record for any quarter.
However while alteration work has been rising in Otago, it makes up just 9% of total residential building work by value in the region, compared to the national average of 13%.