Coast builders jumping as housing approvals through the roof
THE Coast's construction industry is building towards becoming one of the nation's strongest after the region topped Queensland for housing approvals.
PJ Burns Builder construction manager Luke Quinlivan has credited a "180 degree turn" in the way Sunshine Coast Council managed its approval process for the encouraging boost in growth.
Figures from RP Data and the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed 2168 houses were approved on the Coast in the 12 months until April this year.
It was the highest number in the state, with the next highest regions including Ipswich with 2045 approvals and the Gold Coast with 1903.
The Coast was the second highest regional area in Australia, behind Geelong which had 2213 approvals.
Mr Quinlivan, who has worked on the Coast for a decade, said it used to be hassle to get development applications through the council's approval process.
"I think it's the first time I've patted the council on the back in my whole career building here," he said.
"I think they've got a bit more commonsense approach."
He said meetings with council officers before applications were lodged gave builders instant feedback on what they would have to do to comply with regulations.
He said builders in some cases were starting construction within a week of plans being approved. That was translating into more builders staying on the Coast.
"People are busy and aren't having to travel to mining sectors for work."
He said the six years before the end of 2013 were a grim time.
"I ran the gauntlet up and down to Brisbane for the best part of five years," Mr Quinlivan said.
"The word on the street now and just for the industry is everyone is busy."
Queensland Master Builders Association Sunshine Coast regional manager Will Wilson said the positivity was widespread.
"The builders are definitely feeling good and their books are starting to fill up," Mr Wilson said.
However, he said builders had not forgotten the downturn that occurred after the 2008 global financial crisis.
"People are still a bit shy because of the times we have been through," he said.
"You still have to work hard on your estimating table because there is a fair bit of competition."
A Sunshine Coast Council spokeswoman said housing approvals had jumped 35% between 2013 and 2014 and continued to grow since the beginning of this year.
"Increased development approvals have resulted in increased pressure to meet statutory timelines and council has worked closely with the development industry to be proactive in the planning for key developments," she said.
She said programs such as electronic lodgement had contributed to more than 90% of applications being decided within statutory timeframes.
"Council's free pre-lodgement meetings continue to be well received as they allow for early discussion on planning matters and promote confidence in development assessment outcomes."
She said the council was working to convert construction projects into local jobs.