The federal government has extended the deadline to begin construction under the HomeBuilder grants program by an additional 12 months.
Those who were eligible for the grant before its March 31 conclusion – some 121,000 building applications, according to the government – will now have 18 months after signing contracts to commence construction.
This is a year longer than previously allowed.
‘This extension in the commencement date for which the first slab can be laid is a very important step,’ Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told reporters.
‘It will help ensure a pipeline of economic activity.
The Morrison government has extended the deadline to begin construction under the HomeBuilder grants program by an additional 12 months
‘This program has grown over time because more people have decided to use this grant to fulfil their own dreams… you have to remember when we put this program in place to start with, jobs were being lost on building sites across the country.
‘There have been some challenges with extreme weather and getting materials through international supply chains and in fact, getting a tradie because everyone is so busy now as a result of this program as well as other broader economic support measures.
‘So, this is for those 121,000 applications that have already been made.’
Mr Frydenberg said the scheme would cost the government $2.5billion but had helped tip some $30billion into Australia’s construction sector amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘You have to remember when we put this program in place to start with, jobs were being lost across building sites across the country and this has helped save those jobs,’ he said.
Approvals to build private homes hit a record high in February, fuelled by HomeBuilder and record low interest rates.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics said since the introduction of HomeBuilder in June 2020, private house approvals have risen by almost 70 per cent.
In February, home approvals jumped by 15.1 per cent to 13,939 houses, breaching the previous peak set in December last year.
The HomeBuilder scheme was introduced during the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic and late last year was extended to March, although the size of grants were trimmed from $25,000 to $15,000.
The Property Council of Australia on Saturday welcomed the deadline change, saying HomeBuilder had been an ‘economic bullseye’ and the extension would ease pressure on home builders to begin construction quickly.
It means the great Australian dream of owning a home remains a reality for many (pictured luxury homes in Point Piper in Sydney)
Houses in Brisbane suburbs such as Bulimba (pictured above) are desired by many residents and home owners
The Housing Industry Association said its members had been constrained by supply chain issues and labour pressures, and needed the additional time.
‘The uptake of HomeBuilder has created a lifeline of work for tradies and helped support tens of thousands of first home buyers to achieve their dream of owning a home,’ the HIA’s Graham Wolfe said in a statement.
‘Members have been severely impacted by global supply constraints and labour pressures. Builders and their clients have also been juggling delays in finance approvals, planning and building approvals and land title.’
Master Builders Australia chief executive Denita Wawn said 70 per cent of builders were struggling with delays or cost increases for labour and materials, and they could now space out their construction pipeline.
The Labor opposition also welcomed the news, with housing spokesman Jason Clare saying it ‘should have been made a long time ago’.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (pictured above) said the government has tipped roughly $30billion into Australia’s construction sector amid the Covid-19 pandemic
The Morrison government estimates 121,000 applications have already been made for the HomeBuilder program in Australia (pictured Footscray in Melbourne, with the CBD in the distance)
But Housing Minister Michael Sukkar said: ‘The opposition did not support the HomeBuilder program, the opposition opposed HomeBuilder.
‘The opposition sadly has been left wanting when it comes to the residential construction industry.’
The Commonwealth Government’s decision to extend the time available for HomeBuilder applicants to benefit from the scheme will boost home ownership, jobs and housing construction as Australia recovers from the economic effects of Covid-19.
The Urban Development Institute of Australia – the nation’s peak body representing the property development industry – praised the decision.
‘HomeBuilder has been a stellar public policy success and central to Australia’s efforts in sustaining the economy through the pandemic,’ Simon Basheer, the UDIA National President, said.
‘The extension of timeframes for commencing construction from six months to up to 18 months is a smart decision that maximises the number of homebuyers who can benefit from the scheme.’