Construction Trends Tasmania
Despite a general nationwide boom in construction, things are rather slow in Tasmania. The repercussions of 2008’s financial crisis have taken a long time to ease, and forecasters predict it will be a long time before Tasmania sees any growth in its construction industry.
The housing market has been particularly hard hit. On the whole, market confidence is low and many people lack the resources to build new homes and residences. Commercial construction, although stable for now, is expected to fall in the coming years. This also applies to the civil construction industry. All-in-all, Tasmanians are unhappy with the economic status quo, and many blame state policy for their woes.
Strangely, it’s the residential construction industry that’s fairing the best. Renovations are up and 2012 recorded the highest levels of residential refurbishment seen in years. It has shown a 7.2% increase in productivity and looks set to increase with the coming years.
The actual building of new homes is, unfortunately down. Last year witness a full quarter drop in residential construction activity – the lowest it’s been in years. Forecasters predict a gradual recovery from this plunge. Gains look to be modest at 3.4% by 2014, which means there’s little to get excited about.
Things don’t look any brighter in the commercial sector. While other states are experiencing similar downward turns in residential construction, they are often saved by exciting developments in the commercial and institutional industries. New South Wales, Queensland and Northern Territory are all examples of how booms in commerce, education and civic works can save construction on the whole. Not so with Tasmania. Commercial building activity is 5% down from previous years. Experts blame a subdued economy and all-round pessimism in the local market. What’s worse is that analysts predict little change in the coming years.
The Construction Forecasting Council has noted that engineering activity is also down, but looks set to improve on an incremental basis. Analysts expect a slight 4.5% increase in the year to come. They also believe that this number is set to increase with the introduction of large, new construction projects. Examples include the highly anticipated Mt. Linsdey Magnetite Tin Project.
As can be expected from such lukewarm construction stats, employment in Tasmania doesn’t look good. Many believe that construction companies will contract their workforces and lay people off in the process. This will heavily impact the employment statistics of Tasmania, in which construction supports a substantial percentage of the local population. Already, Tasmania is the least-performing of all Australian states in the employment stakes. It features a 7.7% unemployment rate, which is far above the national average of 4.9%
Problems with State Legislation
Many Tasmanians believe that the local government is to blame for this sorry state of affairs. Experts think that the state missed many opportunities to reform itself in lieu of the 2008 financial crisis. In fact, the COAG noted that Tasmania missed eight out of nine assessment criteria for construction.
There have also been many troubling issues with regards to unlicensed builders pushing qualified tradespeople out of business. Researchers have pointed out that “backyard builders” have flooded the market, perpetuating sub-standard buildings in favour of quick profits.
Tasmania’s construction industry paints a sad picture. Investment, confidence and discipline are needed if Tasmanian construction is to recover.