Construction products lacking in Tier 3 regions as Auckland’s production is reduced

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Only 68 travel exemptions for the construction sector were granted out of 1,053 requests. Photo / Bevan Conley

By Phil Pennington from RNZ

Pink Batts insulation isn’t the only building material missing, as Alert Level 4 in Auckland is halting the manufacturing and distribution of all but essential building materials.

It was revealed this week that Fletcher Building has stopped making Pink Batts below Alert Level 4, and even Auckland has “extremely limited” stock.

The CBS cooperative of nearly 700 construction companies in Canterbury says several other product lines are also at critical levels in the industry: steel coil for roofing, RAB panel, GIB wall panel, aluminum extrusion used in windows and doors, glass and paint.

CBS executive member Mike Blackburn said the shortages also lengthened wait times for product, so things like the timber frame might not be delivered for months.

“Electrical appliances appear to be well stocked, however, almost everything in inventory is already reserved by manufacturers and new orders typically take 12 to 16 weeks,” said Blackburn.

New housing construction in Waterview.  Alert Level 4 has stopped all construction and manufacturing of construction products in Auckland.  Photo / Dean Purcell
New housing construction in Waterview. Alert Level 4 has stopped all construction and manufacturing of construction products in Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell

“Likewise with the frame and the farm, which means that the orders placed today will not be delivered until December.

“But the reality is that this will likely continue into the New Year.”

A CBS shareholder electrician has bought cables, switchboards and fixtures, but fears the company’s work will dry up if builders can’t complete projects due to shortages of other materials.

A house cannot be lined on the inside if the insulation has not been installed.

If the roof is short, unfinished houses cannot be sealed against the elements.

The Building Industry Federation – which represents suppliers – provides managers with lists of companies seeking exemptions to manufacture or operate their warehouses.

“By Friday week, most construction product lines will be sold out in L3 [alert level 3] regions of the country ”, declared Julien Leys of the federation.

He expects limited exemptions to be granted next week.

So far, no exemptions have been granted for any type of manufacturing at level 4.

As for travel exemptions for the construction sector – for example, to deliver goods from Auckland – many more have been rejected than granted so far.

During the four days leading up to Thursday afternoon, 1053 applications from the construction sector were received and 68 were accepted; 439 were refused; 301 needed additional information; and 245 were still being processed.

Most of the companies were turned down because they did not meet the threshold for essential work under the health decree, the Ministry of Enterprise, Innovation and Employment said.

To fulfill the order, the work must be either to resolve an immediate health and safety problem or for an infrastructure of national importance as defined in the order.

“An Alert Level 4 company cannot produce non-essential products for delivery to Alert Level 3 regions, even if it already manufactures essential products,” the ministry said.

Where products had both essential and non-essential uses, companies should ensure that the manufacture was for essential purposes only.

“Having too many businesses operating during Alert Level 4 increases the chances of transmission with workers entering and exiting their home bubbles, connecting bubbles and increasing the potential chain of infection.”

The government said the Construction Accord is working with it on the supply issue.

Accord’s Chief Transformation Officer Dean Kimpton said his forum of 60 industry leaders and MBIE officials met weekly below level 4 and discussed supply chain issues .

“The Accord and its members remain committed to the goal of the Level 4 rules” to curb the epidemic, Kimpton said.

In addition to construction, the ministry granted 1,121 travel exemptions to the transportation and logistics category, covering 10,101 employees.

Freight, transport and logistics services, as well as postal and courier services are permitted to travel between alert levels without a business travel document.

– RNZ

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