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Concern grows over impact of timber shortage on New Zealand's house building industry

There's concern timber shortages are going to hit New Zealand’s house building industry hard.

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One industry leader says the lack of supply affects everyone. Source: 1 NEWS

Major building chains have told 1 NEWS Carter Holt Harvey has decided to cut their supply of structural timber, and one industry leader says the lack of supply will affect everyone.

"We've been stockpiling on all of our sites for the last 12 months. Ever since Covid hit us, we've just sort of backed ourselves and make sure we've got everything that we need to finish the builds that we've got,” TB Auckland Principal Tony Pexton said.

Carter Holt Harvey has stopped supplying to some of the biggest retailers in business, including Bunnings, Mitre 10 and ITM. 

"This announcement came out of the blue. I think it's caught everyone by surprise," Building Industries Federation chief executive Julien Leys said.

Pexton said he believes the move will affect “everybody across the board”.

“I hope that the relationships we have with our suppliers will hopefully keep us further up the queue than the DIY guys,” he said.

Mitre 10 is calling the move "an industry-wide issue" and says it will be working hard to ensure it can continue to supply customers with its longstanding suppliers and partners.

"As a New Zealand cooperative, we have multiple and long standing supplier and partner relationships and will be working hard to ensure we can continue to supply our customers with their structural timber needs," Mitre 10 chief of customer solutions Chris Peak said.

Bunnings, meanwhile, said it will source a "range of alternative options for supply", and doesn’t expect product availability to be affected.

"We source timber from a large number of suppliers and have a range of alternative options so don’t expect this change will have an impact on our product availability," Bunnings Head of Merchandise New Zealand Cameron Rist said.

"CHH isn’t a major supplier to Bunnings and customers can be assured we will continue to work with our suppliers to meet demand for timber across our store network."

ITM said "some delays may occur" as it sources new supply.

"It is absolutely a perfect storm because what we're seeing is one, this increased demand in terms of high-density housing. We're also seeing increase in the demand for logs,” Leys said.

The lack of supply comes as ministers recently announced new housing policies aimed at increasing building.

The Government says it's just been made aware of this issue and said disruptions to supply chains aren't unique to construction. It’s expecting the participants to find a satisfactory outcome and is keeping a close eye on the issue.

Some are calling for more direct Government intervention, with Leys suggesting a tariff on some logs. 

Pexton says supply problems have been on the cards for some time, however.

“Whether it’s all supplied to a couple of suppliers or not, I think that we've still got a long way to get out of this problem,” he said.

“Hopefully, it won’t last too long and hopefully, the disruption won't impact the building of houses which is critical,” Leys added.