Report shows impact of COVID-19 is likely to be felt across the construction sector for the next few years

Published: 21 December 2020

The National Construction Pipeline Report 2020 released today forecasts a short-term decline in construction activity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Report commissioned by MBIE provides a projection of national building and construction activity for the next six years, through to 31 December 2025, based on current settings. It includes national and regional breakdowns of actual and forecast residential building, non-residential building and infrastructure activity.

“While there is a lot of uncertainty as a result of the pandemic, the Report expects a decline in the total value of construction through to 2023, before it starts to recover,” says John Sneyd, General Manager Building System Performance, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Residential construction activity is the largest contributor of national construction, making up 55 per cent in terms of value last year. Historically, residential activity is the most volatile to changing economic conditions and it is predicted this will be hardest hit by COVID-19.

The Report forecasts the value of residential construction will fall 43 per cent from $23.7b in 2019 to $13.4b in 2023 as a result of an anticipated decrease in new dwelling consents from the high of more than 37,000 in 2019, to an average of 26,800 per year for the next six years.

“Despite the forecast, demand for residential housing remains strong at the moment. There is steady pipeline of demand and latest data show new home consents are currently at a 46-year high.

“Infrastructure construction is expected to increase, particularly in Auckland and Waikato/Bay of Plenty. Infrastructure is the only construction area forecasted to see sustained growth, reaching $10.1b in 2025– up 6.3 per cent on 2019,” says Sneyd.

Other forecasts from the report include:

  • Compared to 2019, Auckland is expected to see a reduction in total construction activity of 16 per cent to $14.3b by the end of 2025. Waikato/Bay of Plenty is forecast to decrease by 18 per cent to $5.5b, Wellington by 35 per cent to $2b, Canterbury by 57 per cent to $3b, Otago by 33 per cent to $1.8b and Rest of New Zealand by 29 per cent to $4.7b.
  • Non-residential construction activity (including hotels, offices, retail outlets and industrial buildings) is forecasted to drop 42 per cent nationally from $10b in 2019 to $5.8b in 2022 before recovering to $7.4b in 2025.
  • Multi-unit dwellings accounted for 41 per cent of all dwellings consented in 2019. Multi-unit dwellings are anticipated to be hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly apartments, and these are forecast to account for 32 per cent of all dwellings consented in 2022.

The Report is based on building and construction forecasting by the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ), and Pacifecon NZ Ltd data on researched non-residential building and infrastructure intentions.

The Report’s forecasts also modelled optimistic and pessimistic scenarios, taking into account lessons from the Global Financial Crisis but it points out that COVID-19 is an unprecedented event and there is still a significant degree of uncertainty around the forecasts.

Read the National Construction Pipeline Report 2020

Last updated: 21 December 2020