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Housing do-ups, extensions and major alteration work has steadily declined over the last two years


By Greg Ninness

In a double whammy for tradies looking for work, it is not just the number of new homes being built that is in decline, there are also fewer existing homes receiving major alterations.

Structural alteration work to an existing dwelling requires a building consent from the local council.

Such alterations are more than mere redecorating jobs such as repainting or installing new kitchen cupboards, which some property owners may do themselves, they are structural alterations to the building itself, such as adding a room or another storey, work which would normally require the services of tradies such as builders, electricians, plumbers and so on.

This type of work is a significant source of revenue for the building industry and their suppliers, with the total value of residential alterations consented over the 12 months to the end of January this year coming in at more than $2.3 billion.

However the volume of work has been in decline for the last two years.

The number of consents issued for residential alterations (year to January) peaked at 26,947 in 2022, then declined to 25,550 in 2023 and 24,049 in 2024, a 10.8% drop in two years.

That decline has probably been masked to a degree by the fact that although the volume of jobs has been in decline, their value has kept increasing.

The total value of alteration consents issued has risen from $2.18 billion in the the 12 months to January 2022 to $2.31 billion in the year to January 2024. That's up $130 million, while the average value per consent has increased from $81,010 to $96,161 (+18.7%) over the same period.

So although the volume of work has been in decline, the total revenue being generated form alteration work has kept increasing.

The reasons for the ongoing increase in alteration revenue could be inflationary pressures, with industry costs continuing to rise, and/or the type of alteration work being undertaken becoming more complicated, or a shift towards the higher quality end of the market.

The downturn in alteration work appears to be nationwide, with the number of alteration consents issued declining in all six of the main urban centres (Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Wellington Region, Canterbury and Otago) over the 12 months to January this year, while Auckland, Waikato, Wellington and Otago showed declines over two years.

This story was originally published on and has been republished here with permission.