Some pipeline supplies take up to four months to land in New Zealand. Photo / Warren Buckland, Files
Shortages of building materials prevented the construction sector from completing projects on time and within budget.
Plumbing, electricity and glass suppliers reported difficulties obtaining basic materials as supply lines have been blocked by the pandemic.
The general manager of Active Electrical Suppliers, Kevin Pollock, said it was becoming increasingly difficult to bring in products since the middle of last year.
“The consequences of this delay mean that product installation by trade personnel is also delayed and in some cases alternative products are taken, but this requires additional time and resources to manage as well.
“So this becomes a more complex problem.”
RNZ spoke with glass, tile, heating and ventilation suppliers who reported similar delays.
Master Plumbers Association chief executive Greg Wallace said the challenge was the result of a unique set of circumstances combining to create the perfect storm.
“What happened was the supplier [when Covid-19 first emerged] predict a decline on the basis of all banks and all those who predict a decline and reduce some of their futures orders.
“Most of the piped goods come from abroad and there is a gap of three to four months, so that’s a problem.”
The supplier’s decision was exacerbated by an unexpected spike in home renovations as well as severe congestion at Auckland Harbor, Wallace said.
The state will not run out of supplies, but the delay causes headaches for plumbers and gas workers because if they have to replace equipment halfway, it means they have to go back to the board that will ensure compliance. with the building code, he said.
To make matters worse, supply of some products will drop as production in China slows down for the Chinese New Year celebrations in February, Wallace said.
Construction industry expert and partner at business advisory firm BDO, James MacQueen, said it was construction companies that could ultimately pay for the delays.
If there is a delay with work like plumbing – which is one of the first things that go into a project – it will delay all other work that follows, he said.
“If not planned properly this can be a significant problem because most construction projects have very clear timelines and then often, especially large companies, there is damage being liquidated if a building is not completed on time.”
Liquidated damage is the financial penalty a construction company receives for each day the project is delayed.
MacQueen said there was a risk that the ongoing long-term delays could cause some companies to crash, particularly those with projects on their way to similar challenges.
All the suppliers RNZ contacted expected the delays to continue until at least the end of March.
Their advice to customers is to be patient and flexible.