The value of building work done in the December quarter dropped 4.7 per cent to $28.9 billion, the Australian Bureau of Statistics says.
The value of residential construction work fell 5.9 per cent, while non-residential construction work fell 3.6 per cent, following a rise of 8.2 per cent in September.
The number of starts for residential buildings other than houses grew 4.7 per cent to 16,002.
“The recent bushfire events and COVID-19 did not result in significant impacts to Building Activity statistics in December 2019,” the ABS said on Wednesday.
However, it expected bushfire rebuilding activity and COVID-19 would have some impact on building activity in future quarters.
The ABS also said there had been a trend away from apartments with four or more storeys in Australia, which had surged during the housing boom.
Approvals for medium-rise and taller apartment buildings went from 29,695 in 2012/13 financial year to a peak of 72,258 in 2015/16 then retreated to just 41,146 such dwellings approved in 2018/19.
Approvals for apartment towers 20 storeys or higher fell 41.2 per cent to 7,404 in 2018/19, the ABS said.
The agency said the costs of home construction had risen as well.
“The average cost of building a house in Australia has increased by 59.5 per cent over the past 15 years, rising from $200,802 in 2004/05 to $320,238 in 2018/19,” the ABS said.
“Over the same period, the floor area of residential dwellings has remained relatively unchanged.”