New apartments helped boost building consents by more than 25 per cent this July compared to a year ago, according to latest figures.

Statistics New Zealand released details today about the number of building consents granted in July 2012.

A total of 1,478 new houses were approved which represented a 26 per cent rise on July 2011 figures.

Consent was granted for 235 new apartments, the highest number since May 2009, said industry and labour statistics manager Blair Cardno. Of those apartments, 70 were retirement home units.

It was a big jump from July 2011 when approval was given to only 130 apartments.


In July, Canterbury had the largest regional increase in new dwellings consented, up to 371 from 164 a year ago.

Earthquake-related consents identified in Canterbury totalled $59 million. Of that figure, $41 million was for non-residential work and $18 million was for residential work, including 33 new houses.

Another Statistics New Zealand report out earlier this week showed building consents, including non-residential, approved in Canterbury in the first half of 2012 valued almost $1 billion.

That was just shy of the value of all consents issued last year - $1.2 billion.

The biggest growth in Canterbury was happening in Christchurch city and neighbouring districts Waimakariri and Selwyn.

The next largest regional increase was in Auckland, which was boosted by apartments.

On a month-to-month basis, the number of new houses approved in July increased 2 per cent from the previous month.

But if apartments were excluded from that, the number of consents dropped 2.5 per cent.

Statistics NZ said the trend for consents seemed to be flattening, after rising during much of 2011 and 2012.

The value of residential building consents rose 25 per cent from June 2012, to $520 million. The non-residential consent value was almost unchanged at $346 million.

ASB Bank economist Christina Leung said the gradual recovery in residential consents was underpinned by rebuilding activity in Canterbury.

"Beyond the monthly volatility, the trend is one of an improvement in house-building demand in Canterbury as rebuilding gets underway."

The bank expected continued improvement in consent issuance over the coming months as rebuilding activity gathered further momentum.

"This is expected to provide a boost to construction activity, and capacity pressures are likely to grow in the building sector.

"The degree to which this flows through to widespread inflation pressures nationwide will be a key influence on the RBNZ's monetary policy outlook over the coming years."