Builders warn customers to expect delays as timber shortage hits New Zealand

Building industry groups are meeting on Monday to discuss a nationwide timber shortage before taking their concerns to the Government later in the week.

It comes after Carter Holt Harvey cut the supply of structural timber to big retailers Bunnings and Mitre 10, adding further stress to the industry. It hasn't yet said why it has stopped its supplies.

Builders are already warning customers if they're planning on building a house or are part way through to expect delays.

The Building Industry Federation says the cut is bad timing since more people are wanting to build, there's an increased need to fill a housing shortage, and more homes are multi-level.

"They need a lot more timber for joints, trusses, and floors," says Julien Leys, CEO of Building Industry Federation.

Builder Nick Farrelly says it adds to the stress.

"It just seems that wherever we turn there seems to be some sort of shortage whether it be nails, timber, structural LVL beams, it just seems everywhere at the moment," he says.

"It seems quite distressing that such a massive company is now not supplying their LVL and structural timber."

Some small businesses won't be able to ride it out.

"If they're held up for six weeks on materials, what do they do with their men in the meantime if they haven't got work for them?" asks Mike Craig, NZ Certified Builders chairperson.

Craig says there are about 63,000 small businesses in construction, and the tax they pay is important for the running of the country.

"They bring in $2 billion worth of taxable profit and the bigger players are probably doing about $700 million of taxable profit."

But on the ground, the equation is simple.

"If there's no timber or no materials, it doesn't matter how good a builder you are, you can't do it," Farrelly says.

Bunnings and Mitre 10 say they will work with other suppliers to meet demand.