Government statistics show that construction started on 23% more new homes in 2013 in England than in 2012.
The latest statistics reveal starts on new homes in 2013 in England totalled 122,590, the highest since 2007.
However, as the graphs below clearly show, house-building activity is still a long way below what used to be considered, until only recently, normal levels.
In publishing the latest house-building data, the government was naturally keen to empahsise the upside. Despite poor weather – no impediment to Britain’s ‘hardy builders’ according to communities secretary Eric Pickles – work on new homes in the last three months of 2013 was up by 23% compared to the same period in 2012, reaching 32,320.
However, this figure was down 1% on the previous quarter.
Furthermore, although seasonally adjusted starts are now 89% above the trough in the first quarter of 2009, they remain 34% below the peak of Q1 2007. Completions are 41% below this peak period.
In fact, new housing completions actually fell 5% in England in 2013, to a total of 109,370.
However, communities secretary Eric Pickles saw only the good news of the increase in starts. He said: “Last year we built the most homes since 2007, and even the appalling weather conditions this winter have not stopped our hardy builders from getting the job done. That means an increase in small firms benefiting from the surge in construction orders, and more business confidence in the economy."
Historically, housing starts in England experienced a period of sustained growth from 2001 until 2005. From 2005 starts were broadly steady, averaging around 44,000 units each quarter until late 2007. Completions increased gradually from 2001 reaching a similar level to starts by 2007.
Source: House building: December quarter 2013, England [ISBN 9781409841418]