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HomeBuilder supports record-breaking construction quarter

By Juliet Helmke
15 October 2021 | 12 minute read
house construction new reb

Australia has recently experienced its biggest building quarter on record for detached house commencements, new data has revealed.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that in the three months to June 2021, construction began on over 41,200 new houses – a jump of 19.3 per cent over the previous record set in March 2000.

This big uptick in construction can largely be credited to the federal HomeBuilder scheme, which was first introduced on 4 June 2020 and accepted applications through 14 April 2021. Commencements related to the program remain ongoing, with new home owners having 18 months to get the initial stages of their projects off the ground.


Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing Michael Sukkar said the building boom confirmed the targeted nature of the program.

“At a time of great economic uncertainty, HomeBuilder gave people the security and the confidence to build or rebuild a home. These figures show that the program is still driving economic activity and the building and construction industry,” he said.

The June quarter also confirmed that FY21 had set a new high bar, with 139,195 detached houses beginning construction over the 12-month period. It eclipsed the previous record set in 1988-89 by a margin of 5.2 per cent when 132,777 new homes broke ground.

Tom Devitt, economist at the Housing Industry Association (HIA), commented that the figures seen in the last year would be hard to match.

“We anticipate that this peak in new house starts will remain a record for many years and perhaps decades,” he said.

The Northern Territory may be the biggest winner of the HomeBuilder program. The region saw the largest increase in detached home constructions of any state or territory, with a 73.2 jump in the June 2021 quarter.

Victoria followed the Northern Territory with a 31.4 per cent increase, while Tasmania and NSW also saw double-digit expansion at 24 per cent and 16.2 per cent, respectively.

Queensland’s growth was modest, rising only 2.4 per cent, while the other states saw quarterly declines. Western Australia was down 1 per cent, South Australia took a 4.6 per cent dip, and the ACT slowed by 13.3 per cent.

News was also positive in another residential construction sector, with multiple dwelling builds on the rebound.

“The multi-units market also saw a significant jump in the June 2021 quarter, up by 46 per cent,” Mr Devitt noted. 

“This has been supported by strength in approvals for medium density housing, and apartment investors looking through the haze of the pandemic with greater optimism.”

But he noted that multi-unit commencements in 2020-21 were still 37.3 per cent lower than during their peak construction period of 2015-16.

“This sector’s medium-term prospects are very much dependent on the return of overseas migrants, students, and tourists,” he said.

In that market, Queensland led the charge, with a 119.3 per cent increase in building commencements. This was followed by South Australia (up 92.1 per cent), NSW (50.5 per cent), the Northern Territory (33.3 per cent), and Victoria (+33.0 per cent).

It fell back in other states, with Western Australia reporting an 8.4 per cent decrease, the ACT experiencing a 14.9 per cent fall, and Tasmania seeing 42.3 per cent fewer multi-unit builds breaking ground.


Juliet Helmke

Based in Sydney, Juliet Helmke has a broad range of reporting and editorial experience across the areas of business, technology, entertainment and the arts. She was formerly Senior Editor at The New York Observer.

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