President of Wairarapa Master Builders Paul Southey. PHOTO/STEVE RENDLE

STEVE RENDLE
steve.rendle@age.co.nz

Wairarapa’s Registered Master Builders branch is taking a lead trying to help contractors cope with the mental pressure created by the region’s building boom.

A study by the Building Research Association last year found 6.9 per cent of overall suicides were in the construction industry, just above farming and forestry on 6.8 per cent.

Wairarapa Master Builders president Paul Southey, of A1 Homes, said the percentage was disturbing and the organisation was keen to bring contractors of all kinds together to discuss the impact of workload pressures.

Master Builders is one of two membership organisations for builders, along with Certified Builders, but Southey said the aim was to build constructive links between the two groups, as well as associated trades working in the industry – the likes of plumbers, electricians, painters.

“We are all in Wairarapa – I think we can be working together to address the issue of mental health,” he said.

“We’re starting to open the dialogue – open discussion.”

There was no question the building boom had created a pressurised situation for those in the industry, Southey said.

“From a mental health point of view, this boom has been going on for a couple of years and it’s looking to continue.

“We [A1 Homes] would have 150 contractors working with us, and the likes of Jennian Homes would be the same.

“We want to look after contractors’ mental health.”

Southey said while the increased activity was a boon for the industry when it started, there was now a “massive shortage” of available people.

“When it began, everyone was really excited by it, but it’s gone beyond that now.

“It’s the workload that everyone’s trying to deal with.

“We’re saying ‘let’s work together’ on this.”

Southey said the Master Builders breakfast on Sunday attracted 70 people from a variety of trades – “we’re told that’s more than they get in the cities”.

The events are held four times a year and are designed to bring contractors into contact with their peers.

“It’s about providing a network of support, so rather than working on by yourself and struggling, you’re in contact with other people who are also under that sort of pressure.”

Southey said there were also plans to work with district councils to get a longer-term view of planning and scheduling for development in the region.