Post-Flood Shortage of Labour Fears

The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia), February 18, 2011 | Go to article overview

Post-Flood Shortage of Labour Fears


QUEENSLANDERS who had planned to build a new home or renovate this year still have a two-month window before lengthy delays from recent natural disasters are expected to kick in, according to some in the building industry.

The state is expecting a boom in construction activity following devastating floods across central and southern Queensland and Cyclone Yasi in the north of the state.

The increase in labour and material demand has ignited fears prices could rise and some sub-contractors would become scarce.

But Master Builders Queensland chief executive director Graham Cuthbert said residents unaffected by the disasters who wanted work done could still do so without any of the expected impacts a[pounds sterling] if they were ready now.

aIf they were in a position to commit now and go ahead I don't think there's any delay at all because the vast majority of the [disaster] reconstruction has not started yet, it's still in the planning stage,a Mr Cuthbert said.

aBut if you leave it another couple of months ... you won't get it done for a while.a

Urban Development Institute of Australia construction costs researcher David Mitchell said an average price rise of 4% was expected across the board, but that increase was based on relatively low prices because the industry was still recovering from the global financial crisis.

So far, he had not noticed a marked rise in prices, which were being monitored daily.

Mr Mitchell said some materials would remain cheaper because of the strong Australian dollar, while the cost of labour would depend on the job.

Residents building an entire house would be less exposed to rising costs than those planning an extension, renovation or repairs a[pounds sterling] who would be more likely to be competing with similar jobs on flood or cyclone damaged homes.

aA lot of repair works that are going on [require tradespeople] like carpenters, painters, plasterers and electricians, but not so much concreters,a he said.

aBut [demand for those tradespeople] will pass. That's been our experience with Cyclone Larry [in Innisfail in 2006]. When we were in the midst of [the recovery] there was a lot of concern over higher prices and people did pay higher prices.

aBut ultimately, that did [decrease]. So if someone can afford to wait and build their home later, it's going to work out better for them. …

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