Timber shortage rocks construction industry as HomeBuilder program increases home demand

Nathan Law

Table of Contents How a shortage of one critical raw material is leaving Australia unable to build enough new homes – and fuelling the price boom that’s making life hell for first-time buyersShare or comment on this article: How a shortage of one critical raw material is leaving Australia unable […]

How a shortage of one critical raw material is leaving Australia unable to build enough new homes – and fuelling the price boom that’s making life hell for first-time buyers

  • Construction industry gripped by timber shortage as demand outstrips supply
  • Forestry industry needs to supply 2.1million cubic metres of timber framing
  • The industry can only supply 1.8million cubic metres to projects across country
  • HomeBuilder grant and late 2019 bushfire has been blamed for the shortage 

A timber shortage has gripped the construction industry with suppliers struggling to keep up with demand from homebuilders.  

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union sent a letter to the federal government this week demanding an urgent meeting to address the shortage.  

The forestry industry needs to supply 2.1million cubic metres of timber framing just to meet construction demand this year.

Though it is currently only able to turn out 1.8million cubic metres. 

The uptick in demand has been credited to the HomeBuilder program while the shortage in timber supply has been exacerbated by the late 2019 and 2020 bushfires. 

CFMEU National Secretary Michael O’Connor has labelled it a ‘crisis’ and said government intervention is needed to avoid it spiralling out of control.

A timber shortage has gripped the construction industry with suppliers struggling to keep up with demand from homebuilders

A timber shortage has gripped the construction industry with suppliers struggling to keep up with demand from homebuilders

The uptick in demand has been credited to the HomeBuilder program while the shortage in timber supply has been exacerbated by the late 2019 and 2020 bushfires

The uptick in demand has been credited to the HomeBuilder program while the shortage in timber supply has been exacerbated by the late 2019 and 2020 bushfires

‘Otherwise, what will happen is that not only will we not address the current crisis that we have, this crisis will get a lot worse,’ he told the ABC.

‘We need logs, but we also need enough sawmills and enough processors to process those logs as well.’  

The HomeBuilder program was introduced by the federal government in June, 2020.

The scheme provides homebuilders up to $25,000 to construct a new home or renovate an existing one.

Executive Officer of the Frame and Truss Manufacturers Association of Australia Kersten Gentle said the demand for construction had risen sharply across the country. 

‘From what I’ve been told, Albury [in NSW] normally does 600 homes a year, they’ve already signed up 2,000 homes for the year,’ he said.

‘You’ve got builders all around the country that normally would do 70 homes, they’ve signed up 200 homes; or builders that would do 2,000 homes have signed up 3,000 homes.’ 

The HomeBuilder program was introduced by the federal government in June, 2020

The HomeBuilder program was introduced by the federal government in June, 2020

The scheme provides homebuilders up to $25,000 to construct a new home or renovate an existing one

The scheme provides homebuilders up to $25,000 to construct a new home or renovate an existing one

The forestry industry has been placed under further strain as it still recovers from the devastating bushfires in late 2019 and 2020.  

Around 20 million hectares were burned in the blazes, destroying thousands of tonnes of timber and resources.

More than 71,000 hectares of softwood plantation and 21,000 hectares of hardwood plantations were destroyed in New South Wales alone.

Assistant Minister for Forestry Jonathon Duniam said the government held a roundtable with forestry industry representatives on June 10.

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