Pandemic property boom shows no sign of going bust in Townsville

New home owner Carol Finn at her Harris Crossing house. Picture: Evan Morgan

THE COVID-19 construction boom has home renovators in a frenzy to upsize and local Townsville builders struggling to keep up.

That is according to local builders who say their work sheet is so busy they are turning work away.

The Townsville Bulletin has spoken to builders, owners, real estate agents and industry insiders, all of whom say they cannot remember a boom like the one currently being experienced across the city.

Builder Martin Locke said his team was encouraged by the sheer explosion in interest from buyers keen to finally build their forever home, complete with all of the luxe trimmings.

However locals wanting to create their dream homes are being urged by industry bodies to get in quick before inundated builders “close off their books” for 2020.

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Martin Locke, director of Martin Locke Homes

One lucky homeowner who just received the keys to their brand new home was Carol Finn.

The company director traded in her family home of 20 years in Kirwan for a luxury suburban oasis at Harris Crossing.

“I’d love to be in lockdown here because it’s so relaxing … everyday it feels like I am on a holiday,” she said.

“I have the most amazing alfresco entertaining space that has a dining area and lounge with a television, all overlooking a gorgeous pool with a cabana.

“I’ve treated myself with the most amazing bedroom, bathroom and walk-in robe, plus I’ve splurged on all new furniture throughout.”

Real Estate shoot

New home owner Carol Finn at her Harris Crossing house. Picture: Evan Morgan

The mother-of-three and grandmother-of-six, whose husband passed away 12 years ago, started planning her “dream” four-bedroom, two-bathroom house with Martin Locke Homes back in March.

It was completed from design to build within nine months, all while the nation, and the world, battled the pandemic.

“There were no delays. It was quite the opposite. The build happened really fast but there was a lack of stock in fittings, fixtures and furnishings,” she said.

“So I had to change a few of my choices but it actually worked out better because I had to go up – so everything is a bit more luxe.”

Mr Locke said there was a lot of uncertainty when the pandemic was declared, but Townsville had fared extremely well.

“For us, this year has been one of the most successful yet in terms of the number of homes built,” he said.

North Queensland Master Builders regional manager Emma Peters said those home builders and renovators who moved early in 2020, like Ms Finn, were mostly unhindered, but across the board the building industry in Townsville was now “inundated”.

“Our designers, drafters and engineers are very busy, the banking sector is flat out processing home loans, while both labourers and tradies are becoming very hard to come by and building materials are in short supply,” she said.


Masters Builders Regional Manager Emma Peters on site at Eden Park’s new estate

Ms Peters says it was no surprise that several builders were now reportedly “closing off their books” this year.

Townsville City Council residential building approvals are reflecting this influx with 84 approvals in September and 88 in October.

The average approvals per month in 2019 was 49.

Master Builders had been calling for the HomeBuilder scheme to be extended, and were delivered an early Christmas present when the Federal Government announced it would extend the popular scheme from December 31 until March 31, albeit at $15,000 from January 1, down from the current $25,000 grant.

“Extending HomeBuilder is a giant leap forward towards economic recovery,” Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn said.

“It will generate billions in economic activity, help save thousands of builder and tradie businesses from going under and protect thousands more jobs in the building supply chain.”

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