Construction work dropped in the three months to March, before the full impact of coronavirus related lockdowns, which is likely to have an impact on economic growth for the quarter.
The value of construction work fell 1.0 per cent to $49.48 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis, Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showed on Wednesday.
The fall was slightly lower than expectations, with economists forecasting for a 1.5 per cent decline for the three-month period.
It follows a 3.0 per cent decline in the December quarter.
The biggest drop was in housing construction, down 1.6 per cent in the quarter, likely a sign of developers putting the brakes on residential projects.
Non-residential construction was unchanged at $11.67 billion, which meant total building work was down 1.0 per cent to $28.92 billion.
Engineering construction fell 1.1 per cent in the March quarter to $20.56 billion.
Strict social distancing measures were imposed in late March to check the spread of coronavirus, which led to widespread business closures, but there is likely to be limited impact on the construction sector.
“The designation of construction as an essential service enabled activity to progress despite social distancing restrictions implemented from late March,” the ABS said.
It said there would be a lag between any change in demand, the number of applications and subsequent impacts on new work given the time taken to approve and commence an application for building construction work.