Whanganui firms are now joining in the rising construction activity in New Zealand.

Jamie O’Leary from Jamie O’Leary Builders and Stonewood Homes claims to be witnessing its “longest incremental high in living memory” within Whanganui and its surrounding areas.

“It’s really good – we are doing bloody well,” exclaimed Mr O’Leary.

“It’s been steady with a high level of activity and inquiry and actual work on the ground. Probably an issue moving forward will be land to build houses on.”

Mr O’Leary said that roughly 30 to 40 per cent of the inquiries concern New Zealanders wanting to move to Whanganui. The most popular areas from which the inquiries are sent include Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington.

“We’ve also had a few locals repatriating from Tauranga and Hamilton in the last few months,” he said.

“Some are coming back to retire and want the quality of life.

“About 10 to 20 per cent of inquiries are from overseas and these are mostly expats with young families coming back to live. The other 50 per cent of queries are from locals moving up the property ladder.”

While the amount of work has gone up, younger tradies are now starting their own businesses and sub-contracting.

“There is increased activity and increased new faces in the business with the younger tradies who are happy to do labour contract work for the likes of us and other builders.”

Although the construction acitivity in Whanganui as well as New Zealand is at an all time high, Mr O’Leary predicts an eventual downturn.

“Our industry is a cyclical beast and what goes up must come down but I’m trying not to think like that at the moment.”

Glenn Wadsworth from W&W Construction’s largest domestic project currently is Wanganui Collegiate School’s library refurbishment.

“We’ve also got some other bits and pieces on around Whanganui and four or five irons in the fire for bigger projects in the $2 million to $3 million bracket in the coming months,” Mr Wadsworth said.

“Our big projects at the moment are out of town. We’re building 18 villas for a Bupa retirement village in Palmerston North and we’re doing a large reline of a rest home in Stratford, also for Bupa. We’re also doing the redesign and reroof of the South Taranaki District Council’s main office complex in Hawera.”

W&W Construction is also set to build BP service stations, beginning in Dunedin. They have already completed one in Christchurch and may be building more in the future.

“For those jobs, we send a project manager and a health and safety guy from here and hire locals to do the work,” Mr Wadsworth said.