BALLARAT builders are facing an uncertain future as construction investment remains mixed, according to new figures released this week.
There was some good news for builders, as spending on local construction increased by $50 million to $518 million in 2011-12.
However, statistics issued by Master Builders Association of Victoria show that increase was brought on by a rise in public building and renovations, as commercial and retail works both fell.
New housing permits in the Ballarat region also more than halved, from 2009 in 2010-11 to 957 the year after.
Anthony Tuddenham, general manager of Ballarat Civic Construction, said times were tough for all builders, but it was the smaller companies doing it hardest.
“It’s not dire straits yet, it’s not that bad. But it’s not good either because businesses don’t know whether to grow or not. Whether to employ more workers,” he said.
Builders had to go further and wider to find sufficient work, Mr Tuddenham said.
He said his company’s current job building a CFA shed in Bendigo was much further than he would normally travel.
“It’s very competitive. There’s sadly not the volume required to keep all builders going,” he said.
Mr Tuddenham said he anticipated builders would have enough work in the lead-up to the end of financial year to keep on current staffing levels.
But he added things looked much more uncertain after that.
“I speak to a lot of builders, most of them seem to find it tough but they’ve all got work as well,” he said.
According to Master Builders executive director Brian Welch, public building works increased by $17.6 million last year.
Renovations added an extra $8.4 million to the local economy.
“From this data its clear that despite some good news, local builders continue to face a tough economy and ever-changing regulations,” he said.
Master Builders Association of Victoria is holding a trade night next Wednesday, March 27.
Tradies and builders can register by calling 9411 4555 or visiting mbav.com.au.