Skip to content

Record number of new homes consented in December quarter


A record 11,291 new homes were consented in the December 2020 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

The previous quarterly record was in December 1973, when 10,713 new homes were consented. For the year ended December 2020, the number of new homes consented was 39,420.

“If the rate of new homes consented continues like the December 2020 quarter, we could possibly see the annual figures surpass those from the 1970s. If population size is considered however, the figures from the 1970s are still much higher,” construction statistics manager Michael Heslop said.

The number of new homes consented per 1,000 residents in the December 2020 year was 7.8. The record was in the December 1973 year at 13.4. The population of New Zealand in the mid-1970s was around 3 million, compared with about 5 million today.

The greatest increase has come from new townhouses, flats, and units consented which rose from 8,208 in the year ended December 2019 to 11,603 in the year ended December 2020. They now make up nearly a third of all new homes consented.

“Consents indicate an intention to build, and most home construction is completed within a year or two after a consent is granted, though delays due to COVID-19 may have occurred for some projects,” Mr Heslop said.

“Typically, high levels of new homes consented are followed by high levels of building activity in following quarters, which has wide benefits for the economy.”

Value of residential consents rose in 2020

The total value of residential consents in the year ended December 2020 was nearly $16.5 billion, making up over 68 percent of the total value of all consents in 2020. In the last decade the value of residential consents grew faster than its non-residential counterpart. This has not been adjusted for inflation, which may vary for different building types.

The value of consents for multi-unit homes increased by nearly 11 percent in 2020, and stand-alone houses by 0.5 percent.

Building consents reflect an intention to build. Some building types may traditionally lead to longer periods of building activity and can often involve multiple stages of consents spanning several years. Information on the actual value of building work put in place for the December 2020 quarter will be released on 5 March 2021.

Seasonally adjusted number of new homes consented rises

Some periods of the year typically experience higher or lower numbers of new homes consented, so accounting for seasonality allows us to better compare numbers between periods (see Impact of COVID-19 on seasonally adjusted and trend series).

The seasonally adjusted number of new homes consented rose 12.6 percent in the December 2020 quarter, following a rise of 3.9 percent in the September quarter.

The seasonally adjusted number of new homes consented rose 4.9 percent in the December 2020 month, following a rise of 1.2 percent in the November month.

There were large fluctuations in consent numbers between March and May 2020 due to the COVID-19 lockdown, when many businesses and construction projects temporarily closed. The number of new homes consented each month can also vary significantly due to the timing of large multi-home projects, such as apartment buildings.