COVID Comments

COVID Comments
Published: 26 March 2020

As the nation goes into lockdown, there’s, understandably, a fair degree of uncertainty. To get a picture of the situation in the construction sector, we conducted a survey of our members asking a few, frank questions.

The survey was dispatched on March 17th and closed on March 24th.

We asked:

  • What impact has COVID-19 had on your pipeline of work to date?
  • What’s of most concern to your business?
  • How long do you believe it will take before a return to business as usual?
  • Do you feel there is more the Government or industry could be doing?

Responses to the survey were quick and fast with 449 respondents whose comments demonstrated what a stoic industry we have and that most are aiming at a quicker return to normal than some might have thought.

The consensus is that architects are the most positive among us, most stating that they’d had minimal impact on their business so far from COVID-19 and expected to return to normal business within six months to one year.

Residential construction was more circumspect, with the expectation of at least one full year of disruption. But this group reported the least contract cancellations or delays at the time the survey was taken. 

The commercial construction sector, however, was strongly divided between expectations of six months disruption and more than a year, with the ‘too hard to tell’ option ticked the most times.

Architects were also the most confident that the Government is doing a good job, whereas the commercial construction sector was most critical of Government actions at the time.

In the ‘What’s of most concern’ question, the answers were unanimous across the sectors – while work pipelines were mostly holding up, the industry is touching wood that the orders will be honoured and that construction will begin in earnest again in five week’s time.

Within the responses, however, were several that reflected both hardship and confusion – and our hearts go out to those businesses doing it tough – we hope for the quickest return to normal business for all of you and remind you all that we’re here to help in any way we can.

What is clear to see however, is that living and working in New Zealand has its benefits. Far from the cramped and polluted continents, we’ve had time to plan, to prepare and to lock down. Most of us will spend that lockdown in warm homes (thanks to the great building sector in NZ) and most of us will be well fed.

And then, in a month or two, it will be time to get back to work building this awesome country of ours.

It’s hard to know what a post-COVID-19 New Zealand will look like, but here are some things we do know.

Before the lockdown, it was estimated that the New Zealand construction sector was short of 50,000 workers. It was estimated we needed an additional 130,000 homes. And the Government had just committed to $12 Billion in infrastructure spending for the next few years.

What that tells me, is that when the lockdown ends, the demand for the products and services of our sector will be strong again, and with the relocation of foreign workers or the return of Kiwi expats to add to the mix, the skills you have may be in higher demand and greater shortage than ever.

At CMS, we’re relieved to say that right up to today, the calls are still coming in, and our team is busy supporting that all important quoting and specifying role that ensures all our businesses continue to perform.

So, this is the time to head home, take care of families and friends, keep your social distance, and for the sake of us all, stay well and ready to return to work!

Let’s keep our communication networks strong. In a way unlike most other industries, the construction sector is tightly woven and we all need each other for the industry to thrive.

Stay strong. We will get through this together.