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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions

COVID-19 slows building activity – Media release

4 September 2020

The volume of building activity decreased a provisional 22 percent in the June 2020 quarter, after the COVID-19 alert level 4 lockdown stopped almost all residential and non-residential building during April, Stats NZ said today.

“Building activity in the June 2020 quarter was severely impacted by the alert level 4 lockdown, with a resumption in activity in late April under alert level 3,” acting building statistics manager Dave Adair said.

The COVID-19 alert level 4 lockdown, in place from 26 March to 27 April, prevented almost all building work. Construction was able to recommence on Tuesday 28 April when New Zealand moved to alert level 3.

Residential building volume fell an estimated 19 percent in the June 2020 quarter, following a fall of 6.3 percent in the March quarter. Commercial and other non-residential building work, ranging from office blocks, to shops, factories, and hotels fell an estimated 27 percent in the June quarter, after dipping 4.3 percent in the March quarter.

The level of activity was flat before the March 2020 quarter, after running at historically high levels for several years.

Effect of lockdown on methodology

“It was more difficult than usual to estimate building activity in the June quarter because of COVID-19 and the lockdown,” Mr Adair said.

Stats NZ reduced estimates of building activity as there was almost no construction under COVID-19 alert level 4. The June 2020 quarter figures account for typical seasonal patterns and higher construction costs and may be revised.

“This was an unprecedented period, with New Zealanders having to adjust to changing COVID-19 alert levels at both home and work, and manage physical distancing, additional cleaning, and building product supply challenges,” Mr Adair said.

See COVID-19 lockdown and value of building work put in place for June 2020 quarter for more information.

The value of building activity for ongoing projects appeared to be about normal from level 3 onwards, but lower than normal for recently consented building projects. This indicates that ongoing projects were prioritised ahead of new work. Despite the border closure, work continued on many surveyed ongoing hotel projects, notably in Auckland and Queenstown.

See Impact of COVID-19 on building projects for more information.