Building boom and tradie shortage creating 'perfect storm' for construction sector

If you're planning a refurbishment or want a specific builder, it may pay to wait until at least next year.

A building boom and a shortage in skilled tradespeople has created a perfect storm for the construction industry.

Electrician company Grammar Electrical says the number of skilled tradespeople is dangerously low.

"The average apprenticeship takes four to five years, Grammar Electrical commercial director Aaron Dempsey said.

"And not only that but when someone finishes their qualification they're not instantly able to run a project or run a job."

And piling on the struggle - New Zealand's going through a construction boom.

Businesses are desperate for the work but they're getting spread thin.

"I'd love to be charging more but we simply can't," Dempsey says.

"People are reducing their prices so they can stay afloat during these incredibly challenging times. However, I'm not able to pay my staff more, even though their costs are going up."

New Zealand Certified Builders (NZCB) says while we've had building booms and skilled trade shortages before, we've never had such extremes at the same time.

"It's just taken a while to flow through, and it's been exacerbated by the incredibly high volume within the industry currently. So we've just got a perfect storm," NZCB chief executive Grant Florence says.

For residential customers wanting to do some refurbishing, demand is outstripping worker supply.

"That meant people who are looking for a builder of choice are perhaps having to wait until 2022," Florence says.

The Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation says a record 16,000 people are currently in training. 

In the meantime, it says businesses might just have to take risks.

"Clearly they'd like a third-year apprentice who can walk up and run a job but they're just not out there," says BCITO customer experience manager Glenn Duncan.

"We've got more unicorns than them at the moment."

The government is paying businesses to take on and train new apprentices - but that scheme is set to run out next year.