Wood panel factories, not on-site workers, is the only way to solve the housing supply crisis, says a Rotorua engineer who is organising a national wood technology conference later this month. John Stulen, from Innovatek says, "More workers building houses on-site is not enough to really lift housing supply. Only new high-volume wood panel plants will do that in a big way, which is exactly what New Zealand needs. It simply has to happen. XLAM's cross-laminated timber (CLT) plant in Nelson has delivered some added capacity, but there is room for far more supply to meet demand." He says, "In Australia, developers and large builders have already boosted their industry by adding more wood panelisation plants. It is a welcome sign for ramping up the supply of new affordable housing. We need at least one or two more large wood panel factories using new ultra-modern manufacturing technologies to ramp up single family and multi-residential homes in New Zealand." Stulen is organising a national conference in Rotorua this month. International keynote speakers will explain how housing and mid-rise residential building capacity has grown immensely in Australia and Canada on the back of new wood panel and pre-fabrication plants. Chinese kitset houses such as the one shown below comply with NZ building standards and can be bought for as little as NZ$100,000 plus shipping to NZ. (source: www.smarthousing.cn)
Log markets stable
Uplift from Chinese port remains healthy at 70,000m3 per day, up from 60,000m3 last month. Total seaport inventory is 3.7M m3 and stable. Overall supply is matching demand as China heads into its busy autumn construction period. Export prices are firm with K and A grade reaching around $135 and $125/m3 at wharf respectively. Ocean freight rates are set to rise by about $5/m3 this month so that could flatten out any further potential price rises. NZ construction sector continues to performing well with a slight dip in the commercial construction sector. Residential housing remains strong with future Governments (of whatever colour) committed to supporting increased home ownership.
NZU price steady
The latest price at $18.10/NZU (the unit of trading in the Emissions Trading Scheme or ETS) is unchanged from last month. Buyers are sitting on the side-lines while MMP negotiations continue. It is unlikely the ETS will be replaced even if we end up with the Greens in Government. Long term demand for NZU's is greater than supply and prices will only go up.