Large scale renovation creates jobs

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Homes are a key component of New Zealand’s urban infrastructure.  Houses move in and out of the rental market and through socio-economic groups as neighbourhoods transform over time - they are the one relatively static component in the built environment.  In a period of recession and low new-build activity, our existing housing stock provides an opportunity to maintain and develop our building industry and the economy.  Investing in New Zealand’s residential infrastructure keeps the retail sector active, employing trades and keeping New Zealand manufacturing plants operating while, at the same time, delivering higher performance of our residential built environment.

The residential sector is a large source of employment - the house building and renovation industry is worth in excess of $12.0b annually and directly employs about 8% of the workforce (Briefing for the Minister for Building and Construction, November 2008).   There is significant economic and social benefit in redirecting this resource to improving the current housing stock in recessionary times.

1940-1960 mass housing typeOne of the largest groups of houses represented in this country is the 1940 - 1960 mass housing style.  Research undertaken by BRANZ indicates that there are a total of 479,000 of these houses throughout New Zealand.  To bring these homes to a much higher standard of warmth, health, comfort, energy and water use, a standard renovation package would include ceiling and under-floor insulation, ground polythene vapour barrier, wall insulation, efficient heating device, heat transfer system, solar hot water heating, low flow water devices and low flush toilets, rainwater tank, hot water cylinder and pipe wraps, extract fans in kitchens and bathrooms, double glazing retrofitted into existing timber window frames (or secondary glazing/thermal curtains), on-site assessment of house and project management.

A standard 1940-1960 home renovated to this standard of improved performance would require an estimated 277 hours of labour split between a variety of sub trades.

The data indicates that, for every 1,000 houses retrofitted, a total of 151 full time equivalent jobs would be required for delivery solely of on-site retrofitting services, and a total of 392 full time equivalent jobs would be required to provide the products and services involved in the renovation activity.


Benefits of undertaking wide scale renovation in relation to jobs:

1.       Renovation activity involves a broad spectrum of skills and trades from unskilled labour through to qualified electricians, plumbers and builders, and hence provides a diversity of employment opportunities.

2.       The jobs and skills required by renovation activity are easily transferred into and out of new build activity - providing a flexible workforce.  As the housing stock is upgraded and New Zealand lifts out of a period of recession, the developed skill-sets required for renovation can be easily retuned for the new build construction sector.

3.       Specific regional targeting of renovation activity based on housing stock is possible - assisting communities who are in greater need of securing jobs and retaining skilled workers.

4.       Renovation activity can utilise and target New Zealand-made products and services helping to support the wider local economy (for instance, through utilising locally-made insulation materials).

5.       The need for an element of low skilled labour in renovation installation provides employment for many who need it most.


Workman preparing to cut


The February 2009 Job Summit was an opportunity for Beacon to argue the case for Government to consider large scale renovation as a driver in job creation.

Using our research on:

we prepared and shared a briefing arguing for wide renovation of the New Zealand housing stock.