Flat-out tradies ‘positive and busy’


by Chris Tobin

Timaru tradies are reporting busy times in the post Covid-19 lockdown and are hoping the trend continues into the new year.

“There has been a huge increase in maintenance being done and people shopping locally with a lot of it down to not being able to go away,” New Zealand Master Painters’ Association South Canterbury branch president Grant Jenkins said.

Work levels were on a par with the same time last year which was a relief for association members due to the uncertainty over Covid-19, he said.

Builders said business had been brisk for them as well.

“We hit the ground running after the lockdown,” Steve Brooks said.

The Timaru builder employed seven staff.

“We’re slightly busier than this time last year.

“Other builders are doing well; one’s fully booked in 2021 through to 2022. It’s more the commercial side of things.”

South Canterbury Master Builders Association president Stu Heap echoed Mr Brooks’ comments, saying he was very busy.

“We’re working on a 28-room motel at Tekapo which is about two-thirds finished. We were doing it pre-Covid lockdown.”

Despite the downturn in tourism, building was still continuing in Tekapo, he said.

“It’s still going on; there’s going to be a couple of new builds in Cave even.”

Mr Heap said he was doing a lot of pricing and other builders were busy with renovations.

“All the guys are positive and busy.”

New housing was down, which he considered was more due to the shortage of available land.

Mr Brooks said with travel restrictions people were focusing on their homes.

“Window manufacturers are busy, people are taking last kitchen orders before Christmas, and I’ve been told you can’t get a new vehicle until Christmas .

“If everyone spends money in Timaru it’s good for Timaru.”

All were hopeful the buoyant times would roll on.

“It will be hard to tell after the election but I think we are fortunate in South Canterbury; we have our own little bubble and have been fortunate,” Mr Jenkins said.

“Covid has affected New Zealand more than South Canterbury. We’ve got great local support and are in a better position than most.”

Mr Brooks said the fact one builder was booked out for all next year was a positive sign although no-one could be 100% certain about how things would be in the next 12 months.

“In theory everyone should get busier and it will trickle down. I’m pretty optimistic.”

On the job…Painters Xavier Martin (front) and Nigel Ryder hard at work at Craighead Diocesan School in Timaru last week. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN
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