Worker At Construction Site Is Fixing The Form For The Beam
Worker At Construction Site Is Fixing The Form For The Beam

Winners and losers: Qld’s top 20 builders revealed

A third of the top 20 builders in Queensland started fewer dwelling in the year to June as the COVID-19 pandemic and a credit squeeze impacted the industry.

The housing market cooled across the state over the financial year with dwelling starts, which covers units, houses and semi-detached houses, sliding an estimated 19 per cent to 29,659, according to the HIA's latest The Housing 100 report.

The largest 20 builders, however, managed to grow their market share from 24 per cent to 35 per cent as smaller builders were squeezed out of a contracting industry.

Hutchies was the largest builder in Queensland by a big margin, but its dwelling starts for the year fell 8.6 per cent to 2359, reflecting a downturn in the apartment market.

Scott Hutchinson, the chairman of Hutchinson Builders, recently told The Australian that the momentum that had propelled the apartment boom over recent years was likely to slow over the next 18 months as the sector bottomed out.

"But this is all so new and anyone who says they know what will happen is just guessing," he said.

Hutchies was one of seven of the top 20 builders in Queensland to experience fewer dwelling starts in the year to June.

Scott Hutchinson, chairman of Hutchinson Builders. Picture: Glenn Hunt/The Australian
Scott Hutchinson, chairman of Hutchinson Builders. Picture: Glenn Hunt/The Australian

The builder with the biggest contraction in dwelling starts was Privium, with dwelling starts in Queensland falling almost 39 per cent to 412.

At the other end of the scale, Gold Coast-based Condev Construction started 400 dwellings, an 84 per cent jump for the year.

HIA chief economist Tim Reardon said the COVID shock compounded what was already expected to be a difficult year.

"A slowing in population growth and a bank imposed credit squeeze caused one of the sharpest corrections in home building on record with the number of new housing starts (nationally) falling from over 222,000 in 2018/19 to an estimated 169,000 in 2019/20," Mr Reardon said.

He said nationally the builders in the Housing 100 report increased their market share from 35 per cent to 40 per cent over the year.

HIA chief economist Tim Reardon. Picture: Gary Ramage
HIA chief economist Tim Reardon. Picture: Gary Ramage


"This ... suggests that smaller builders, particularly those outside of the (top 100), are experiencing a disproportionate share of this market contraction."

Mr Reardon said the unit market has been cooling for a number of years so it was not a surprise to see unit builders slowing in terms of number of starts over the past 12 months.

"But we were expecting that cycle to turn around next year or the year after ... but given what has happened this year that is not likely to transpire," Mr Reardon said.

He said the detached housing market was holding up "quite strongly" in the south-east Queensland corner.

"Talking to our sister organisations overseas there has also been a surge in demand for detached housing," he said.

Mr Reardon said the shift towards houses reflected the fact that people have had time away from work to make decisions about where they wanted to live, and had saved money by not travelling or eating out, and they were seeking additional living spaces, like home offices.

"How long lasting this trend will be isn't clear," he said.

"But we expect new detached home starts to remain stable over the course of the next two years (in Queensland) but we are looking at a 20 per cent decline in the number of multi-unit commencements."

The industry wants the Morrison government to extend its HomeBuilder scheme to help support the industry until international migration returns.



Originally published as Winners and losers: Qld's top 20 builders revealed