Despite mixed conditions across the nation, Australia’s residential construction industry marked a record year in 2015.

According to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 2015 was the second consecutive year that work commenced on a record number of new homes.

“During 2015, just over 220,000 new dwellings began construction,” HIA Senior Economist Shane Garrett said.

“This represents growth of 11% on 2014, which was itself the previous record holder for new home activity,” Garrett said.

In total, work got underway on 220,870 new homes last year.

During the 2015 calendar year, the largest increases in new dwelling commencements occurred in New South Wales (+19.1%), Tasmania (+18.8%) and Queensland (+18.7%). Starts also increased in Victoria (+17.3%) and the ACT (+6.0%).

Commencements fell in the Northern Territory (-22.4%), Western Australia (-12.0%) and South Australia (-9.4%) during 2015.

The nationwide increase in new home building was the result of a surge in the multi dwelling sector.

According to the ABS, 44% of new homes built in 2015 were in multi dwelling projects, up from 34% a decade earlier and 28% two decades ago.

Source: HIA/ABS

Nicholas Proud, principal of Property and Construction Analytics Australia, said the figures show that more and more Australians are turning away from traditional detached houses.

“According to the ABS, the trend continues for Australians to live in new dwellings other than the traditional house on a quarter acre block,” Proud said.

“New South Wales saw the proportion of multi residential new dwellings commenced at 57% with Victoria and Queensland equal at 52%,” he said.

While the residential construction industry has made it back-to-back record breaking years, Garrett said it’s unlikely 2016 will see a similar performance.

“New home building is likely to have peaked last year, and we will see fewer new homes started in 2016. Under current policy settings, new home building is then projected to fall below the levels required to provide for Australia’s long term housing needs,” he said.

“We must avoid this outcome by immediately tackling the heavy taxation burden on new home building, speeding up the planning process and doing more to deliver shovel-ready residential land.”