It seems logical that the future of residential construction is going to be built with precast concrete. There are less and less people starting apprenticeships in Australia, namely bricklaying apprenticeship, despite the fact that the residential construction industry has been paying a tariff/levy/tax called the “brick levy” since the early 2000s.
The brick levy was a government introduced program which charges a “levy” to new homes constructed from brick/masonry products. A small charge is paid for the number of bricks used per project to the brick supplier (who in turn pays the levy to the government for administration).
As an aside, and this is just a thought, I’d love to see the figures on the brick levy collected versus the dollar amount after administration that is directly available for the program i.e. how much of the levy collected is absorbed in administration by the government.
Secondly, are there figures available that can show a direct correlation between the bricklaying levy and an improvement in the problem for which it was introduced to solve? Is the brick levy just another indirect tax used by the government to find money, to pay for election promises? I don’t know. I’m posting these questions seeking enlightenment.
The purpose of this levy is to provide funds to bricklayers so they may take on apprentices and teach more people the trade (to address the shortages).
So why then is the cost of bricklaying becoming so prohibitive and there seems to be less and less bricklayers available to do work?
The National Bricklaying Association works full time for its members to leverage the bricklaying rates higher, which is great for members. With rates moving higher and higher yet housing prices remaining fairly stagnant, and more competitive pressure in the residential marketplace, I feel we’re getting to an inflection point where house designs will change to remove hand-crafted elements like brickwork.
Bricklayers are going to become like Stonemasons. Highly skilled artisans used sparingly in the volume market or in lower application than they currently are. If there are not sufficient new apprentices coming through the training program and the existing trade base greys into retirement, the shortfall/labour base will continue to diminish meaning we will have to design around this labour shortfall.
This is where I believe precast will fill the void.
I know the natural inclination is to think “yeah, but it costs a heap more than bricklaying/brick veneer of cavity brick”. Yes, at the moment it does but we are…