New Zealand building consents rose 7.8 per cent in September, its fourth straight gain and biggest growth since March, as intentions to build in Auckland and Christchurch gather pace.
The number of new dwellings consented rose to a seasonally adjusted 1,540 in September from 1,429 a month earlier, according to Statistics New Zealand. Stripping out apartments, which tend to be volatile, issuance rose 5.6 per cent to 1,339, seasonally adjusted.
New dwelling consents were up 22 per cent from the same month a year earlier, with Canterbury issuance up 80 per cent to 396 and Auckland permits up 50 per cent to 458. The value of residential consents rose 45 per cent to $577 million in September.
Statistics NZ said some $58 million of consents granted in Canterbury were earthquake-related, $17 million of which was for residential construction. Since the first quake on Sept. 4, 2010, more than 2,900 consents have been issued in Canterbury totalling $636 million.
"The steady gradual improvement in building consent issuance adds to confidence construction activity will pick up over the coming year," ASB economist Christina Leung said in a note. "We expect rebuilding activity will gain further momentum later this year and provide a boost to construction activity, which will likely lead to capacity pressures in the sector."
The figures come after the government this week announced a series of new reports and legislative tinkering to improve the country's housing supply in response to a Productivity Commission report into improving the affordability of New Zealand homes.
Finance Minister Bill English said the government's top priority is to figure out how to direct local authorities in expanding the amount of land available for housing projects targeted at low and middle income earners.
Today's figures showed the value of non-residential building consents slipped 1.8 per cent to $314 million from a year earlier, led by declines in offices and administration buildings and storage buildings.
Annual commercial building consents rose 2.2 per cent to $3.78 billion, while residential issuance advanced 22 per cent to $5.87 billion.