Industry figures are warning of a looming land and labour shortage in the Capes region as the home building sector is tipped to rebound this year.
Builders are reporting a steady increase in enquiries and sales after a difficult year for the construction industry due to a development and investment lull.
However, there are concerns the industry won’t have the capacity to cope following less residential land releases, qualified trade workers leaving the industry and a lack of trained apprentices.
Dale Alcock South West sales and marketing manager George Sinclair said Busselton had taken “a caning” from the global financial crisis and the subsequent reduced land releases could lead to problems in meeting future demand.
“There is big concern that until the Vasse Newtown subdivision comes through, land will soon be in short supply, ” he said.
Ventura Home Group South West sales and marketing manager Lee Cain said developers were cautious.
“There will definitely be a land shortage, already now we can feel the choices are drying up, ” he said.
Urban Development Institute of WA figures showed 10 per cent more land sales in the region in the second half of 2012 compared with the first six months of the year.
UDIWA chief executive Debra Goostrey said strengthening land sales resulted in inflated stock levels falling 24.5 per cent over the year.
Ms Goostrey said the continued population growth would push the demand.
“The key issue with land supply is it takes many years for a developer to get through the approvals process, ” she said. “Whilst recovery in the region is 12 to 18 months away, developers need two to five years as a minimum to move through the system.”
Busselton bricklayer Peter Marsh has also warned of difficulties securing qualified tradespeople as the number of jobs pick up.
“It’s a cycle. During the downturn people leave the trade and then when we get busy again it’s hard to get people, ” he said.
A Times survey of local bricklayers revealed a number had left the industry in the past year.
Master Builders Association WA training director Neil Du Rand said there had been a drastic downturn in the number of apprentices as the industry reacted to the slump.He said apprentices were the “backbone of the industry” and shortages were possible while waiting for the new batch to be fully qualified in three to four years.
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