The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) called it, and Mildura Rural Rural City Council (MRCC) confirmed it. Building is booming in our State’s north-west, including Sunraysia.

The building industry in Victoria’s north-west had a strong year in 2020, the VBA revealed this week, with building permit approvals rising by more than 18 per cent despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

The VBA issued 7008 permits in 2020 for the region, up from 5924 in 2019, suggesting more people are moving to the regions, the authority claimed.

Statewide, the industry finished 2020 off strong, the VBA said in a statement, “with the number of building permits issued across Victoria back above pre-pandemic levels, and the highest permit approvals of the past two decades.”

A quick call to MRCC revealed the trend was alive and well on the Victorian side of the Murray River here.

MRCC issued a total of 1012 building permits in 2019. That rose to 1097 last year.

Breaking down the numbers further showed that there was an increase in applications in the latter half of 2020. The number from January to June 2020 being 462, but 635 for the July to December period.

The VBA revealed it had issued 10 per cent more building permits in 2020, 113,430 up from 101,998 the previous year.

Even with a pandemic, 2020 saw the highest number of building permit approvals in the last 23 years, the VBA reported.

VBA Chief Executive Officer, Sue Eddy said the industry was resilient and the building and construction sector would continue to be paramount to economic recovery.

“Last year was unprecedented. This year we all need to continue to adapt and collaborate, even more than we have, to help industry flourish and our economy recover,” she said.

In the first quarter of this financial year, building permits issued with a Building Permit Number were 13 per cent higher than the same period in 2019-20.

Unsurprisingly, mid-year data showed that there had been a drop in permit applications during the lockdown.

Domestic and residential buildings, which make up the majority of all building applications, fell to around 13 per cent and 12 per cent respectively in April, and 10 per cent and 11 per cent respectively in August. Despite this, they rebounded in September and continued to grow for the rest of the year.

Ms Eddy said new life will be breathed back into the industry with the Federal Government’s HomeBuilder Grant Scheme and the State Government’s $5.3 billion Big Housing Build.

The HomeBuilder scheme has generated over 25,000 applications from Victoria as of 26 February. The majority being for new builds 20,726 and 4,707 for renovations.

“We expect to see these numbers increase with the extension of the grant to 31 March. The flow on effect will be felt by many in the industry as the work commences.

“The HomeBuilder scheme and Victoria’s Big Housing Build will supercharge our economic recovery through the pandemic and beyond,” Ms Eddy said.

“The stimulus packages are a reflection of the Federal and State Government’s confidence in the building and construction industry helping the economic recovery.

“More than ever, we must all work together to deliver the compliance and safety outcomes that the public not only expect but are entitled to.”