Updated: Jul 23
The New Zealand Building Economist story began, we believe, in January 1965 with an A5 sized typed publication with a plain light blue cardboard cover titled “Monthly Construction Costs”. We retain a copy of the 27th and last edition of this publication dated March 1967. 27 pages of construction costs listed in separate Area sections for Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Wanganui. The units of work were in imperial measurements and prices were in NZ pounds, Shillings and Pence. A year’s subscription cost £2. 2. -
After 27 months of producing “Monthly Construction Costs” Progressive Publications repackaged “Monthly Construction Costs” as “Current Construction costs” Vol 1 No.1 in May 1967. A year’s subscription cost was still £2. 2. -. A larger A4 sized publication, the cover had a white BIG lettered title on a black background and the tag line, “THE ONLY trade journal specialising in a monthly estimating and costing service to Builders, Architects, Construction Engineers and Contractors.” Vol. 1 No.3 July 1967 saw the introduction of decimal currency and the price was converted to $4.20 per annual subscription. When it came to Vol.1 No.7 the monthly “Current Construction costs” transitioned to a bi-monthly November – December 1967 edition (6 issues PA).
In the May-June 1968 edition the name and cover changed to “Current Construction Costs” and a graphic of two opposing hands, one holding a pencil and other a chisel. The message intended “you need a sharp pencil for a sharp price?” or maybe “precision tools for precision work?”
Trade Costing Services took over the publication September-October 1968.
April 1972 saw the introduction of a new format, colour cover with 1970’s stylised text and graphics and a new name, “The New Zealand Building Economist” with the new tag line “Incorporating Current Construction Costs.” Today’s current title and tag line. In the December 1974 edition, rates and units of measure converted to metric.
R. J. Willson’s name first appears in the August 1972 edition. Dick Willson introduces a Technical Library to the New Zealand Building Economist to promote and sell the numerous publications he has personally authored while tutoring at Auckland Technical Institute to meet the building industries training needs through the 1960’s.
June 1973 the publishers name changed to Trade Costings (1973) Ltd.
1979 saw the cover change again to an isometric sketch of scaffold tubing and the number of issues PA dropped from 6 to 5. 1981 saw a return to 6 issues PA.
Over the years’ editorial about estimating and related matters along with advertising has come and gone, while the essentials of maintaining current construction costs continued relentlessly onwards. Today we provide editorial content using our online blog. https://www.nzbe.co.nz/blog
The April 1990 issue saw another cover change, this time, the now familiar graphic of windows / floating squares filled with drafting conventions for building materials, that occupy the cover to this day AND a new owner taking over from Trade Costings (1973) Ltd. Plans and Specifications Ltd and Dick Willson had to wait 18 years to be able to own the publication he had a hugely influential partnership with.
1996 reduced the number of issues PA from 6 to 5. 1997 reduced issues PA down to 4. 2006 the covers lost their colour and became black text and graphics on a white background.
The November 2009 edition (earliest copy we could find) saw the introduction of PDF format versions. Today a significant proportion of customers prefer PDF over hardcopy format of The New Zealand Building Economist.
January 2016 marks 50 years since The New Zealand Building Economist started as “Monthly Construction Costs” with Dick Willson in charge for half of that time (26 years) after first being a contributor in 1972. May 2017 marks 50 years since “Monthly Construction Costs” was repackaged as “Current Construction costs”. When November 2021 arrives, we will celebrate 50 years since the launch of “The New Zealand Building Economist” version of “Monthly Construction Costs”.
The February 2018 edition was the last produced by Plans and Specifications Ltd. In April 2018 Dick Willson passed away after 46 years of association with The New Zealand Building Economist. Before Dick passed away, he passed The New Zealand Building Economist batten to Quantum Meruit Project Management Ltd and Matthew Ensoll FNZIQS Registered Quantity Surveyor. The May 2018 edition commenced a yearlong tribute to Dick titled “Remembering Dick Willson”, printed on the inside front cover. We have reduced the Dick Willson Technical Library as handed down, to just two Dick Willson publications and supplemented these with three contemporary titles by other authors. The remainder excluded owing to their obsolescence. We will update some Dick Willson publications and reintroduce them in the future, because Dick’s original creative work when curated, has value that will endure.
The August 2019 bought an entirely new design to the familiar NZBE product. On the eve of the NZBE’s 55th anniversary we have reinvented the product design for the 21st century.
While the new design is still keeping much of the layout and structure as the product always has, we have rationalised some data structure and added more content headings and subheadings. The new full colour cover represents the future of the construction industry, by symbolising a futuristic building, in front of a vibrant sunrise, this symbolising growth in the building industry. The new brand logo and imagery we have introduced, provides a strong link to New Zealand. It represents Leioproctus Fulvescens a standout Kiwi Bee, the only NZ Bee that is orange in colour. This is also a playful take on the sound of our abbreviated name ‘NZBE’.
The New Zealand Building Economist story so far has a long and proud tradition of serving those who work with construction costs in their chosen field including; Architects, Engineers, Draftspersons, Developers, Quantity Surveyors, Builders, Carpenters, Sub- contractors, Property Managers, Building Owners, Insurance Assessors, Loss Adjusters, Lawyers; and Accountants; with current construction costs, specialising in residential and light commercial building works.
As the new Guardians of New Zealand Building Economist, we will maintain the values and high standards New Zealand Building Economist Guardians before us have upheld, while ensuring the story of New Zealand Building Economist continues to always reflect current construction costs for current construction technology and practices.