Local builders doing it tough despite construction boom

BIG housing developments continue to boom in Gladstone, but local builders say they are suffering tough times - and big developers are making it worse.

Coastal Homes builder Craig Price said he felt large developers were unsupportive of local builders.

"You're in our town and there are plenty of local builders here to do the work," he said.

"With the demand of land, that has just pushed the price of land up to what is likely an unreasonable level for the local people."

Mr Price refused to name a particular out-of-town company, but said if a builder-developer bought a lot, they could essentially fluctuate prices to suit themselves.

Gladstone Tenheggeler Homes is a partner in many Gladstone subdivisions, allowing them to package up house and land deals.

Owner Greta Tenheggeler said they are affiliated with Riverstone Rise, Forest Springs, Vantage and Little Creek projects.

She said as a local builder, with one crew, times are not so much tough as they are competitive.

"The new out-of-town boys seem to attract buyers by their slightly cheaper prices.

"The fly-in builders are building and showcasing big awesome looking display homes to dazzle. However, it's just a little bit of a trick," she said when it comes to quality. "The delivery of the product speaks for itself."

She said what may be happening is that out-of-town builders have been buying parcels of land in bulk, and now developers are desperate to sell.

"We have heard of $20k to $40k discounts being applied," she said.

The fly-in builders are building and showcasing big awesome looking display homes to dazzle. However, it's just a little bit of a trick

One developer, Sahben, said the company currently employed out-of-town builder Hutchinson's for works on The Curtis project in the CBD.

"(We) have a preference to use all local builders where available but there's not always the manpower to do the job," Sabhen director Ben Smith said.

Mr Smith claimed no local builder has the size or capability of building a project to the capacity of The Curtis, but they had damaged their chances with overpricing in the past.

"During the start-up phase on Curtis Island there was a drain on the labour force and a much larger work load," Mr Smith said.

The result was higher pricing in Gladstone, which opened the door to outside contractors to enter the market, but Mr Smith said he still believed local operators should have the opportunity to tender for large projects.

Devine Homes Queensland general manager Andrew Brimblecombe said he did not believe they possessed an advantage in the tender process as a larger builder.

"We have lost builds to other builders up there," he said.

"I think the market in Gladstone has changed from what we've seen since 12 months ago."

Mr Brimblecombe explained that land prices are the same for all buyers.

"We don't fluctuate the price to anyone," he said.

He also said that his company had not come in to ride the industrial boom in Gladstone, but rather were focused on using local suppliers and contractors to construct their homes.

DISGRUNTLED: Coastal Homes builder Craig Price is concerned over large out-of-town competition.
DISGRUNTLED: Coastal Homes builder Craig Price is concerned over large out-of-town competition. Tammy Lewis

Little blokes suffer despite amount of houses going up

"BIG blokes will always hang on through the tough times - it's the little blokes who suffer."

That's how Gladstone Coastal Homes builder Craig Price sees the current new home market in Gladstone

With 37 years experience in the local industry, he said he had never seen times as tough as they were now.

Mr Price believed competition with larger, out-of-town builders was making the "quiet" situation worse.

Some local builders have even shut shop, he said, adding that builders had noticed a 75% decline in business over the past few years, even though Gladstone has just gone through a building boom.

"What seems to be the majority of the work in town has all been investor homes and that has been taken up by out-of-town builders," he said.

He said he was also disappointed that local builders were overlooked and not given the chance to tender for the gas plant's bulk housing, despite making enquiries.

"They did ask the question if we could build 45 houses in six months," he said.

"And I don't think any one Gladstone builder could build 45 homes, to a quality, in six months.

"Three builders (local) could probably do it, if they shared it out, but I don't believe anyone got that opportunity."

If things did not pick up soon, Mr Price said they would be pressed to downsize in staff as a worse case scenario.

Mr Price said he had the interests of local buyers at heart.

"Are the out-of-towners going to be able to look after the problems once they are gone?"

Gladstone developments and their developers:

  • Little Creek - Villa World
  • Forest Springs -Walker Corporation
  • The Rise, Settlers Gladstone - Ingenia Community
  • Riverstone Rise - Devine
  • The Curtis - Sahben Developments
  • Chapple St Business Park - Sector Enterprises
  • Vantage Estate - Peet Limited