Master Builders Sunshine Coast regional manager Michael Hopkins said the 66% increase for the financial year contrasted strongly with the 50% drop in the mining areas of Central Queensland and 41% at Mackay.
Master Builders Sunshine Coast regional manager Michael Hopkins said the 66% increase for the financial year contrasted strongly with the 50% drop in the mining areas of Central Queensland and 41% at Mackay. john mccutcheon

Coast named biggest improver for building approvals

THE Sunshine Coast has been the biggest improver in Queensland for building approvals with a 66% increase for the 12 months to June 2014.

With nearly one in seven people on the Sunshine Coast working in the construction industry it underpins the fact that a healthy building sector flows on to the general economy.

The latest figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics for June cement the positive dwelling commencement figures.

Master Builders Sunshine Coast regional manager Michael Hopkins said the 66% increase for the financial year contrasted strongly with the 50% drop in the mining areas of Central Queensland and 41% at Mackay.

Approvals on the Sunshine Coast for June 2014 were 218, bringing the 12-month total to 2805. This is compared to the 1690 for the previous year.

"Significantly we are seeing Master Builders members returning to the Sunshine Coast for work,'' Mr Hopkins said.

"That's very pleasing. It's not just good news for construction but the whole economy - it flows through to motoring, retail, cafes and restaurants.''

Another trend is many approvals for units instead of strictly detached housing. The increase is 81% on 2013.

Emporio at Maroochydore and the Kawana hospital precinct are key areas for units.

"This rise is good as the diversity allows for affordable housing options and in two key centres where building activity is expected to continue for the next five to 10 years," '' Mr Hopkins said,

"The down side is the figures are not being replicated in commercial construction," he said.

"Except for the $2.8 billion Sunshine Coast University Public Hospital, commercial is doing it tough.

"They are relying on work close to Brisbane.''

Building confidence on the Sunshine Coast is above the 10-year average, Mr Hopkins said.

"Trading conditions are into positive territory both for residential and commercial," he said.

"It shows the building approvals are being reflected in work on the ground.''

The average contract price for housing is down, driven by competition in the industry and people looking at affordable building types as well as renovations.

Mr Hopkins said affordability and stable interest rates meant it was a good time to build.

"We have a local industry ready with competitive prices and government incentives, particularly for first home builders," he said.

"Costs are as low as we can expect in construction, land and finance … (and) furniture retailers are offering incentives."

Land availability is centred at Bli Bli with Park-lakes and Cutters Ridge, Sunshine Cove at Maroochydore, Peregian Springs, Brightwater, Birtinya and Bells Reach as well as Noosa North Rise and Lake Doonella.

Master Builders' deputy executive director Paul Bidwell said approvals for the month of June were down 10.6% (seasonally adjusted), but the 12-month figures were outstanding.

"Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Brisbane were standout performers rising by 66%, 62% and 47% respectively," Mr Bidwell said.

"In contrast, Central Queensland and Mackay are clearly suffering a hangover from the resources sector boom," he said.

Constraints to construction

1. Level of demand

2. Labour costs

3. Finance availability and cost

4. Land availability

5. Planning approval process.


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