Keith Cragg owner of Hotondo Homes in Gladstone.
Keith Cragg owner of Hotondo Homes in Gladstone. Tom Huntley

CQ building approvals surge, defying state's weak numbers

Competition still tough for smaller outfits says local builder

Building numbers: see the statisitics

BUILDING approvals in Gladstone surged last year, defying weak numbers across the rest of the state.

Statistics from Master Builders show the number of building approvals in Central Queensland for last October rose 191% from the previous year.

Putting that explosion in context, the next best region was Far North Queensland with 42.9%.

Those statistics include all of Central Queensland, but Gladstone was the driving force behind that growth.

Gladstone, Clinton, New Auckland, Telina and Toolooa had approvals for 212 residences, almost half of Central Queensland's total.

Master Builders Central Queensland manager Denis Bryant said the numbers in Gladstone were "staggering."

He said the high number of building approvals was partly made up of units within large projects, but even allowing for that, the region was firing on all cylinders.

"It's quite remarkable stuff," Mr Bryant said. "When you look at the change (in Gladstone) between October 2011 and October 2012, it's staggering."

Mr Bryant said Queensland's building sector had been "down in the doldrums", although Master Builders hoped there were small signs of a recovery for the state.

"We've had three and a half years of the building industry really taking a hit," he said. "We were down to 60% capacity." (It is now about 70%.)

In Gladstone, Mr Bryant said major projects, such as the three LNG construction projects were driving the high building rate in Gladstone. While major, multi-national companies won work constructing the LNG plants, those projects bring people to the region and those people need accommodation.

Competition still tough for smaller outfits says local builder

THE numbers look impressive for Gladstone's building sector, but not everything is going smoothly.

Gladstone builder Keith Cragg, owner of Hotondo Homes, said there was a massive amount of new housing being built, but many builders were still hanging on by their fingertips.

He said a few big companies had won the vast majority of building contracts while the smaller, local builders were finding it extremely difficult to compete on price.

"A few big companies have most of it sewn up," Mr Cragg said.

"A small percentage is left over for the rest and the little guy is struggling."

Mr Cragg was not blind to the much worse situation facing builders elsewhere in Queensland, but the dire state of building across the state had caused a flood of builders into Gladstone, where they knew there was a surge in construction.

Running your own business was always going to be tough and there was only one motivation that really counted.

"If you didn't love what you do, you wouldn't do it," Mr Cragg said.

Building numbers

Building approvals in October 2012 (and percentage growth compared with previous year):

  • Central Queensland 478 (191%)
  • Far North Queensland 80 (42%)
  • Gold Coast 221 (42%)
  • Brisbane 915 (19%)
  • Sunshine Coast 116 (-11%)
  • Wide Bay 123 (-8%)

The entire Central Queensland region, including Rockhampton and other towns, had 478 new dwellings approved, but much of that came from Gladstone:

  • Gladstone 92 (up from seven the previous year)
  • Clinton - New Auckland 70 (up from 48)
  • Telina - Toolooa 50 (up from 10)