Building industry looking positive

DEVELOPERS are reporting a ``dramatic turnaround'' in home building, but there are mixed views from building and construction industry groups.

Housing Industry Association executive director Stuart Clues said confidence was returning to the industry, but the past 18 months had been ``really difficult''.

More than 5000 people have left the sector in the past three years, but Mr Clues said building approvals were up by 18 per cent statewide.

``When we talk about growth, it's coming from a very low base,'' Mr Clues said.

Mr Clues said builders were now reporting that they had plenty of work, and were putting on more staff.

``There is work there if people are prepared to compete,'' he said.

Mr Clues said the growth was due to competition, low interest rates, and the first-home builders grant.

Launceston-based developer Jason Sherriff said he had noticed more buyer enquiries.

``We're definitely finding that there's more activity and confidence,'' Mr Sherriff said.

An open day for the Alanvale Gardens Estate development in Newnham was held on Saturday, and Mr Sherriff said seven houses were already in the construction stage.

``We can't get enough workers out there,'' Mr Sherriff said.

Mr Sherriff said up to 40 workers were on site already, and compared with a development he worked on two years ago, there had been a ``dramatic turnaround'' in home building.

``Two years ago we couldn't give it away; we sold two blocks in two years,'' Mr Sherriff said.

Master Builders Tasmanian executive director Michael Kerschbaum said he had not yet seen promising signs of the industry recovering.

``The North of the state has been the basket case of the industry for years now,'' Mr Kerschbaum said.

``I would hope that we bottomed-out last year and things won't get any worse,'' he said.

Mr Kerschbaum said the industry was reliant on the overall performance of the economy, and there was under-investment in commercial building.

``Without a strong economy that generates jobs, you don't have a building and construction sector,'' he said.

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