The building industry says the sector is at an all-time low despite obvious work needing to be done in Christchurch.
The Registered Master Builders Federation blames the lack of work on the long recession and slow progress by insurance companies to get the wheels in motion for earthquake rebuilding.
The past president, Stonewood Homes managing director Brent Mettrick, says his company is building only two thirds of its capacity.
He says when the situation improves, builders may have to be sought from overseas because labour is drying up, with people leaving the industry due to a lack of work.
Mr Mettrick says there is a lack of demand throughout the country which is reflected in a three-year low in building consent numbers.