By Emily Norman

emily.norman@age.co.nz

When it comes to building new houses, every town in Wairarapa is “pumping”.

But South Wairarapa is the biggest winner, with the most new residential building consents issued last year (79) since before 1990 when online records begun.

And while this brings an ear-to-ear grin to Wairarapa builders, it has also shines light on a “worrying” shortage of contractors in the industry.

A1 Homes master builder Paul Southey said across the board, the number of new residential building consents was “outstanding”.

“Every town is pumping, even Featherston – we’re building houses in Featherston and we haven’t done that in a long time.”

His biggest concern was the increasing pressures on a small pool of local contractors, amid worries of running out of land and subdivisions.

“That’s our biggest worry at the moment – the shortage of contractors in the building industry,” Mr Southey said.

“There is a huge shortage across the board for anybody to deal with anything in the building industry in Wairarapa.

“The councils are inundated with work, the building companies are inundated with work, the roading guys, the digger operators – it’s across the board.

“But there’s a lot of good interaction between master builders, and a lot of good talking among the building companies to look after our contractors.

“Some of them are burning out because of the workloads and we’ve got demands from clients because everything is getting pushed out further and further.”

South Wairarapa District Council chief executive Paul Crimp said due to the increase in building activity, the council had hired additional resources in the areas of building and resource consents, infrastructure and administration.

“We do not see this activity slowing down here in South Wairarapa anytime soon,” Mr Crimp said.

He said SWDC had received subdivisional consent applications for 230 new sections this year, “mainly in Greytown but good numbers in Featherston and Martinborough as well”.

There is also a “special development area” in Greytown that, when consented, would provide up to a further 500 sections, he said.

“We are also carrying out a residential boundary review for our towns, starting in Martinborough, due to the pressure to create more space for residential development.”

Things are looking up for Carterton and Masterton too, with ‘new residential’ building consent information from Statistics NZ showing Wairarapa has emerged well and truly from a two-year slump, with 2016 being among the highest this decade for new homes in each district.

Masterton, which issued 75 new residential building consents last year has kept the ball rolling into 2017, having issued a further 38 new residential building consents in the first three months of this year.

However, their tally doesn’t come close to what it was in the mid-2000s, when it sat at more than 120 new residential consents issued for four consecutive years, reaching a high of 157 consents issued in 2004.

Carterton also peaked in the mid-2000s with 127 consents, but is making a comeback from a low of 36 in 2015, to 69 last year.