ON THE WAY UP: Lee Vieritz of the Stoddart building group works on a new Gympie home. Photo Renee Pilcher
ON THE WAY UP: Lee Vieritz of the Stoddart building group works on a new Gympie home. Photo Renee Pilcher

Housing off to a strong start

IN THE clearest indication yet the Gympie region's housing and building industry has started to emerge from the doldrums, new home approvals for the region have jumped more than 60% on this time last year.

The leap exceeds expectations for the Wide Bay Burnett region. A snapshot of industry conditions released by Master Builders last December predicted building activity in the first quarter of 2012 would remain fairly subdued.

"While profitability and turnover improved (in Wide Bay Burnett, last quarter of 2011), the benchmarks remained less than satisfactory," the Master Builders survey found.

"However, both are forecast to improve in the short term. Employment levels improved during the quarter, with most businesses reporting stable or increasing workforces and forecasting no further staff cutbacks over the next three months."

The Gympie Regional Council last month approved 24 new houses, valued at more than $5million, and commercial buildings worth about $6m. This compared to 15 new home approvals, valued at about $3m in January 2011 and brings the total number of building approvals in the Gympie region so far this financial year to $60.6m.

Hotondo Homes and Stirling Homes both said their levels of activity and inquiry reflected the January approvals, though Hotondo said commercial activity had remained steady through 2010-2011, while residential inquiries last year had been "sporadic", with several inquiries on one day and then nothing for weeks.

Hotondo franchisee Michelle Dodt said the flow of housing inquiries so far this year had been "much more constant" and that Gympie's

affordable land made it "well placed" to take full advantage of the turnaround that was coming.

Stirling's Peter Bazzan said 2011 had been a positive year for residential building, but that Stirling Homes was also already feeling "busier" this year.

The most recent round of building approval figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics also revealed positive news for Queensland's building industry.

Master Builders director of housing policy Paul Bidwell said the figures for December 2011 built on an improvement in November, with private sector house approvals rising by 4.7% (seasonally adjusted) and total dwelling unit approvals rising by 24.6% (seasonally adjusted).

In December 2011, the Gympie Regional Council approved 16 new homes valued at $3m (compared to 16 new homes in December 2010, valued at $3.5m).

And in November 2011, it approved 16 new homes valued at $3.3m (compared to 22 new homes valued at $3.8m in November 2010).

"The Queensland figures are in contrast to national figures, which saw private sector house approvals rise by just 0.2% (seasonally adjusted) and total dwelling unit approvals drop by 1.9% (seasonally adjusted)," said Mr Bidwell.

"While it is not wise to compare month by month figures, we are attributing the growth in Queensland to the combination of work generated by the Building Boost Grant and rebuilding after 2011's natural disasters," he said.

"However, we must put these figures into perspective and remember that Queensland private sector house approvals fell 21.5% from 20,502 in 2010 to 16,094 in 2011, which means our industry is a long way from a full recovery."

He said with the interest rate cuts in November and December 2011 and the extension of the Building Boost Grant until April 30, 2012, Master Builders anticipated further growth in housing construction throughout 2012.

"Providing economic conditions in Queensland withstand the turbulent global outlook".

Major January projects

 Cooloola Cove

4 houses $661,523

 Former Kilkivan shire

2 houses $409,000

 Former Tiaro shire

3 houses $621,240

 Gympie area

15 houses $3.75million


Showroom $4.2m


Office building $1.09m


Shop fit out $250,000


Retaining wall $71,692


Shed $78,653


Shed $71,000

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