Home building drives construction growth

Australia’s construction industry continues to grow at close to record highs as a successful government initiative leaves its mark on home building activity.

While the Australian Industry Group/Housing Industry Association performance of construction index eased 2.7 points in April, at 59.1 it indicates the sector remains comfortably in expansion territory.

The index reached a record high in March.

“Australia’s construction sector continued to power ahead in April led by house building and engineering construction,” Ai Group head of policy Peter Burn said.

“Across the industry, employment and new orders were both higher in April.”

HIA economist Tom Devitt said the uptake of the Morrison government’s HomeBuilder scheme had beaten all expectations.

The HomeBuilder program ended in March, but the government has since extended the deadline to begin construction by an additional 12 months.

“The extension of HomeBuilder’s commencement deadlines means builders will be able to meet much more of this record demand over the coming year and fewer homebuyers will have to suffer the disappointment of cancellation due to capacity constraints,” Mr Devitt said.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will release building approval figures for March later on Tuesday.

Economists’ forecasts centre on a three per cent rise in the month, although National Australia Bank expects it could be as high as 10 per cent given the rush to apply for the HomeBuilder grant before the end of March.

Approvals for private houses surged 15.1 per cent in February, exceeding the previous record high set in December last year.

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