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Building consent numbers suggest residential construction still buoyant but commercial construction is taking a hit

Property / news
Building consent numbers suggest residential construction still buoyant but commercial construction is taking a hit

There was a slight drop in the number of residential building consents issued in January compared to the same month of last year.

According to Statistics NZ, 2833 residential building consents were issued in January, down from 3025 (-6.3%) in January last year.

The decline was mainly due to fewer apartments being consented, with their numbers down by 60.3%, followed by standalone houses which were down by 3.5%.

However consents for retirement village units rose 45.9%, and townhouses and home units rose 13.2%.

The drop in January consent numbers is not necessarily indicative of a trend because most of the decline was for apartments and their monthly numbers can be volatile.

"The January 2021 figure was the highest on record for a January month, and despite the comparative fall, the 2022 figures is still the second highest for a January month in the 57 year time series," Statistics NZ construction statistics manager Michael Heslop said.

The construction value of new dwellings consented in January was $1.165 billion, up 3.9%.

On top of that the amount of alteration work being undertaken on existing dwellings remains at elevated levels, with $145 million of structural additions and alterations consented in January, up 9.2%.

That took the total value of all residential construction work consented in January to $1.311 billion, up 4.4%.

However it was a different story for commercial and other non-residential construction activity, with the value of consents issued for that work dropping from $482 million in January 2021 to $447 million in January this year (-7.3%).

That was mainly driven by a 65.4% decline in the value of consents for hotels/motels and other short stay accommodation, a 61.9% decline in consents for education buildings and a 23.7% decline in office construction.

Overall, the total value of all types of building work consented in January this year was $1.799 billion, up 2.2%.

The interactive charts below show the long term trends in the number and type of residential building consents issued.

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Building consents - residential

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#issued Nationally
#issued in Northland
#issued in Auckland
#issued in the Waikato
#issued in the Bay of Plenty
#issued in Hawkes Bay
#issued in Wellington
# Nelson
# Westand
#issued in Canterbury
# Otago
# Southland

Building consents - type

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2833 residential building consents were issued in January, townhouses and home units rose 13.2%

It would be nice if Stats NZ also reports on a split of greenfield and brownfield developments for consents and building completions. That would provide a basis for a pre-post analysis of the urban intensification bill.


By the time you get the project built it could be 1 or 2 years after the consents issued. It would take a very brave developer to start a project now with rising costs and perceived falling prices by the time it’s completed. Traditionally this is the time in the market that they go broke. 


If the developer bought the land a few years ago (RC can take quite a while to get..) then the recent huge increase in land price should easily cover the building cost increase and further escalation risk.

Agree it is a risky time for developers as well as contractors.