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Building Consents Issued: August 2011
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  30 September 2011

Building consent values include goods and services tax (GST), which increased from 12.5 percent to 15 percent from 1 October 2010. It is not possible to separate the impact of this change on building consent statistics.

Figures given are unadjusted for seasonal and irregular factors unless otherwise stated.

Housing figures up, but from a low level

In seasonally adjusted terms, the numbers of new dwellings authorised, both including and excluding apartments, show some strong increases in July and August 2011. Excluding apartments, the seasonally adjusted increase of 17 percent in August was boosted by 57 earthquake-related dwellings. Including apartments, the number of which can fluctuate from month to month, the total number of home approvals rose 13 percent, boosted by 179 apartments units.

These latest increases in home approvals confirm the upswing seen in the trend over the last five months:

  • Excluding apartments, there have been small increases since February 2011.
  • Including apartments, the trend is now confirmed as increasing since March 2011, with comparatively stronger increases.

Note that these increasing trends follow some of the lowest levels of new dwellings authorised since these series began. Also, variable numbers for apartments and earthquake-related dwellings in recent months have resulted in a less stable trend than normal. This means that while both trends are confirmed as increasing, the size of these movements (particularly when apartments are included) should be treated with some caution. 

Graph, New dwellings authorised, including apartment units, monthly.  

Despite the upward trends, the overall level of housing approvals remains low, as shown in the graph above. August is the first month for a year to have an increase in the actual numbers of homes approved compared with a year earlier.

In August 2011, compared with August 2010, consents were issued for:

  • 1,509 new dwellings, including apartments, up 23 percent
  • 1,330 new dwellings, excluding apartments, up 11 percent
  • 179 new apartments, up 143 units, boosted by 102 assisted-living units in retirement village complexes.

In August 2011, compared with August 2010, the value of all residential building consents rose $10 million (2.1 percent) to $483 million. The value trend can now be confirmed as increasing from May 2011, but shows only small monthly rises. 

Graph, Value of residential buildings authorised, including alterations and additions, monthly.  

More new dwellings in 10 of 16 regions

In August 2011, compared with August 2010, the number of new dwellings authorised in the South Island rose by 141 units (38 percent), and the number in the North Island rose by 138 units (16 percent). Of New Zealand's 16 regions, 10 had more new dwellings authorised than in the same month of the previous year.

The largest regional increases in dwelling numbers were:

  • Canterbury, up 125 units to 316, including 57 earthquake-related dwellings, of which 50 were relocatable units 
  • Gisborne, up 70 units to 73, mostly due to 60 assisted-living apartments
  • Auckland, up 60 units to 381, including 69 apartments (of which 42 are assisted-living).

The largest decrease was in Manawatu-Wanganui, down 23 units to 36. There was no single driver for this fall.

 Graph, New dwellings authorised, by region, monthly.

Non-residential building values down

In August 2011, the value of non-residential building consents was $277 million, down $18 million (6.2 percent) compared with the same month last year. Seven of the 11 building types recorded decreases in value.

The largest changes from August 2010 were:

  • shops, restaurants, and taverns, up $22 million
  • social, cultural, and religious buildings, down $18 million
  • hospitals and nursing homes, up $12 million.

As shown by the darkest bars in the graph below, the three largest contributors to the value of non-residential buildings in August 2011 were:

  • shops, restaurants, and taverns, at 24 percent
  • offices and administration buildings, at 18 percent
  • education buildings, at 16 percent.

 Graph, Value of non-residential buildings authorised, by building type, including alterations and additions, monthly.

The obvious spike in the graph above in the 'social, cultural, and religious buildings' category was caused by several indoor sports facilities authorised in August 2009.

Quake-related consents total $20 million in August

In Canterbury, building consents identified as being earthquake-related totalled $20 million in August 2011, compared with $32 million in July and $14 million in June. The August value comprised $12 million for non-residential building consents and $8 million for residential building consents. The residential consents include 57 new dwellings, of which 50 are relocatable units intended to house displaced residents. More information is available from Statistics NZ's Earthquake information portal

From September 2010, about 500 earthquake-related consents have been identified, totalling $128 million. This includes 190 new dwellings, of which 145 were relocatable units.

Earthquake-related consents cover residential, non-residential, and non-building construction. Non-building construction most notably includes swimming pools, bridges, reservoirs, and retaining walls. Consents that are mainly for demolitions are excluded.

Building consents are often used as an early indicator of building activity. The extent of damage to Christchurch and adjacent districts, particularly that caused by the earthquake on 22 February 2011, means the relationship between consents and activity (for example, as measured by Statistics NZ's quarterly estimated Value of Building Work Put in Place) may change, even at the national level. Value of Building Work Put in Place: September 2011 quarter will be published on 5 December 2011.

Value of consents for all buildings down

In the August 2011 month, the value of consents issued for all buildings (residential and non-residential combined) was $761 million, down 1.1 percent compared with August 2010.

Graph, Value of building consents authorised, including alterations and additions, monthly. Graph, Value of building consents authorised, including alterations and additions, year ended August.

For the year ended August 2011, compared with the year ended August 2010, the value of consents for:

  • all buildings was down $916 million (9.6 percent) to $8,607 million
  • residential buildings was down $947 million (16 percent) to $4,872 million
  • non-residential buildings was up $31 million (0.8 percent) to $3,736 million.

For technical information contact:
Tina Waterhouse or Ken Smart
Christchurch 03 964 8700

Next release ...

Building Consents Issued: September 2011 will be released on 31 October 2011.

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