Tony Sewell, chief executive of Ngai Tahu Property and President of the Property Council of New Zealand, has received a lot of attention in the media recently after a recent trip to the United States where he discovered that building materials are remarkably cheaper than in New Zealand. In an article in the New Zealand Herald (read here) he says that action needs to be taken to reduce the cost of building in New Zealand. In the US he says low cost housing can be built for around NZD600 a square metre, whereas the same buildings in New Zealand are built for around NZD1,500 per square metre. Sewell also argues that these houses were of a better quality that what you would see in New Zealand.
Sewell concludes that this is because of a lack of competition in the New Zealand market. However, other industry professionals disagree, saying that the high cost of building is related to land prices. Read the press release from Hugh Pavletich in response to Sewell’s statements here. The Government is nearing the end of inquiries on the issue that begun three years ago. It will be interesting to see how they respond.