'No one's doing apartments anymore': Big Brisbane builders search for new projects

Concern is growing amongst Queensland's big builders going into 2018, as apartment build jobs dry up in the wake of new unit commencements, which are down a massive 40 per cent.

The drop in unit starts is in stark contrast with the stats on new detached houses, which have risen by four per cent, partially fuelled by an upswing in demand for house and land packages according to Masters Builders Queensland. The changes were year-on-year to the end of the September quarter.

Smaller builders stand to benefit from this change, deputy chief executive Paul Bidwell said.

"It's very positive for builders working in the detached housing sector and it's a trend we don't expect to see change any time soon," Mr Bidwell said.

"(But) the big builders who are working on those apartment towers are wondering what they'll do. It's a big concern."

While the spectre of oversupply has caused a sharp decline in commencements in Brisbane, the Gold Coast is losing steam too, albeit for another reason.

"The Gold Coast has been going like a firecracker??? it's been going strong but that's been coming off the boil a bit. The biggest thing is a shortage of land."

It's caused some concern about what's next, Mr Bidwell said.

"It hasn't happened yet, but some might leave the state," he said. "Some of them have gone into smaller jobs that they historically might not have gone into.

"[Big builders] normally shift around to office towers, industrial buildings, and government work."

While the government infrastructure spend is high, it's not being spent on what would help soften the blow on builders, Mr Bidwell said.

"The unfortunate thing is the government spending isn't much there. They've spent a lot on roads and that sort of thing but that has a more indirect on impact on our guys."

Red and Co director David Laverty said the trend of house and apartment commencements moving in opposite directions was a long time in the making.

"I would have said the last 18 months, you might even see it increase in the next few quarters as well. I wouldn't be surprised if it kept increasing in the next 12 months, and I wouldn't be surprised to see apartments keep dropping."

Mr Laverty said it was good news for smaller development companies like his that less apartments were being built.

"My view is: I like seeing people pull out of the market we operate in, it's a supply and demand thing. We're determined to do apartments and townhouses longer term."

This story 'No one's doing apartments anymore': Big Brisbane builders search for new projects first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.