The popularity of the federal government’s HomeBuilder stimulus program is causing headaches for Victorian builders, who say they are struggling to hire tradies and get hold of key construction materials.
The Master Builders Association of Victoria said the state is experiencing a construction boom on the back of the scheme, which was set up in June 2020 to avoid the industry crashing into a “valley of death” during the coronavirus pandemic.
The HomeBuilder program is in danger of becoming a victim of its own success.Credit:Louise Kennerley
Master Builders Victoria chief executive Rebecca Casson said the program had kept thousands of construction firms in business and their employees in jobs, but action was now needed to keep supply chains moving in the face of overwhelming HomeBuilder-fuelled demand for skilled labour and materials.
The federal government says the scheme is doing what it was designed to: stimulating the building industry, protecting jobs and keeping supply chains moving. Housing Minister Michael Sukkar told The Age on Wednesday that he was in constant contact with the sector to monitor the program’s progress.
Ms Casson said almost 80 per cent of the 300 Victorian building businesses that responded to a national survey conducted by Master Builders were experiencing significant delays in being able to secure concreters, joiners and bricklayers.
“HomeBuilder has been a lifeline for Victorian home builders and is continuing to drive a pipeline of work forward, but some of them are now struggling to keep up with demand for skilled tradespeople and some critical building materials,” she said.
Master Builders Victoria chief executive Rebecca Casson.Credit:Scott McNaughton
“In collaboration with our state and national colleagues, we’re currently working with the federal government on potential solutions to relieve the pressure on the supply chain and ensure that the benefits of HomeBuilder are maximised.”
“We want to avoid a situation where delays in the availability of key tradespeople and key materials – along with escalating costs for both – threaten to undermine HomeBuilder’s widely acknowledged success.”
Ms Casson said that across the nation, 78 per cent of the 800 respondents to the association’s survey, reported delays of of up to three weeks, along with an increase of up to 10 per cent in the cost of materials and specialist trades or labour.
Mr Sukkar said the government was keeping a close watch on the progress of the program and on any knock-on effects.
“HomeBuilder eligibility parameters are specifically designed to be an effective catalyst to encourage residential construction demand, which dramatically fell at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, to protect tradies’ jobs,” Mr Sukkar said.
“As a result of the very strong level of HomeBuilder applications, the construction commencement deadlines have been extended to six months.
“The government remains in constant contact with industry participants and will continue to monitor the progress of the program.”
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