Surge in demand for new homes as construction cost pressures ease
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Surge in demand for new homes as construction cost pressures ease

Construction activity is strongest in the multi-residential sector in Victoria

By Shannon Molloy
Mon, Aug 28, 2023 9:40amGrey Clock 2 min

Demand for new homes is surging after a lacklustre year – and one property type is proving particularly popular among would-be buyers.

The latest New Homes Report from research firm PropTrack shows a 16 per cent increase year-on-year in search enquiries for new developments on in July.

Boutique luxury apartments are especially in-demand, data shows. Enquiries for unit projects in inner Melbourne are the highest in the country.

The Victorian capital accounts for 34 per cent of all current residential construction projects in the country, with most underway in the inner-city.

Enquiries are the second highest on the Gold Coast, home to nine per cent of all current apartment developments.

Adelaide’s central and Hills regions have the most enquiries per development, but the number of projects underway in the city are particularly low, meaning more would-be buyers for fewer listings.

Analysis of demand shows premium unit complexes with rooftop swimming pools, wine rooms and gums are popular.

In July, Elysian Residences in Sherwood in Brisbane’s inner-south saw the most enquiries, followed closely by Murcia in Wollongabba in the inner-city.

The Walmer project in Melbourne’s Abbotsford came in third for the most enquiries sent by property seekers on

The New Homes Report also reveals the pace of building cost increases has slowed over the past year, with prices stabilising as supply chain issues improve.

Input prices rose by 0.6 per cent in the June quarter, which is the lowest increase in 18 months, Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows.

The cost of certain essential building materials, like concrete and plumbing products, has risen. However, the extent of those increases has been offset considerably by a slump in steel prices.

It marks good news for the construction sector, which has struggled through a tough period of time.

PropTrack senior data analyst Karen Dellow said the development of new dwellings slowed significantly over the past few years.

“The pandemic caused supply chain issues, increasing the price of essential building materials, which increased building costs, while labour shortages have also been a growing problem,” Ms Dellow said.

Frequent construction site shutdowns during Covid-19 stalled work and slowed down new home completions, she added.

“As a result, the higher cost of new properties led to decreased demand, compared to its peak in September 2021, when the government’s HomeBuilder Grant drove many property seekers to build houses to take advantage of the government subsidy.

“The combination of labour shortages and increasing prices has led to a backlog of work impacting the approval and commencement of future developments.”

However, ABS data shows easing construction costs might be helping to get work out of planning phases and into production.

There was a 14 per cent increase in new commencements in the March quarter, the latest figures reveal, totalling 46,546 dwellings. That has been driven by a whopping 57 per cent increase in apartment and townhouse commencements.


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Wild cities and concrete corridors: How AI is reimagining the landscape

A new AI-driven account by leading landscape architect Jon Hazelwood pushes the boundaries on the role of ‘complex nature’ in the future of our cities

By Robyn Willis
Wed, Dec 6, 2023 2 min

Drifts of ground cover plants and wildflowers along the steps of the Sydney Opera House, traffic obscured by meadow-like planting and kangaroos pausing on city streets.

This is the way our cities could be, as imagined by landscape architect Jon Hazelwood, principal at multi-disciplinary architectural firm Hassell. He has been exploring the possibilities of rewilding urban spaces using AI for his Instagram account, Naturopolis_ai with visually arresting outcomes.

“It took me a few weeks to get interesting results,” he said. “I really like the ephemeral nature of the images — you will never see it again and none of those plants are real. 

“The AI engine makes an approximation of a grevillea.”

Hazelwood chose some of the most iconic locations in Australia, including the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, as well as international cities such as Paris and London, to demonstrate the impact of untamed green spaces on streetscapes, plazas and public space.

He said he hopes to provoke a conversation about the artificial separation between our cities and the broader environment, exploring ways to break down the barriers and promote biodiversity.

“A lot of the planning (for public spaces) is very limited,” Hazelwood said. “There are 110,000 species of plants in Australia and we probably use about 12 in our (public) planting schemes. 

“Often it’s for practical reasons because they’re tough and drought tolerant — but it’s not the whole story.”

Hazelwood pointed to the work of UK landscape architect Prof Nigel Dunnett, who has championed wild garden design in urban spaces. He has drawn interest in recent years for his work transforming the brutalist apartment block at the Barbican in London into a meadow-like environment with diverse plantings of grasses and perennials.

Hazelwood said it is this kind of ‘complex nature’ that is required for cities to thrive into the future, but it can be hard to convince planners and developers of the benefits.

“We have been doing a lot of work on how we get complex nature because complexity of species drives biodiversity,” he said. 

“But when we try to propose the space the questions are: how are we going to maintain it? Where is the lawn?

“A lot of our work is demonstrating you can get those things and still provide a complex environment.” 

At the moment, Hassell together with the University of Melbourne is trialling options at the Hills Showground Metro Station in Sydney, where the remaining ground level planting has been replaced with more than 100 different species of plants and flowers to encourage diversity without the need for regular maintenance. But more needs to be done, Hazelwood said.

“It needs bottom-up change,” he said. ““There is work being done at government level around nature positive cities, but equally there needs to be changes in the range of plants that nurseries grow, and in the way our city landscapes are maintained and managed.”

And there’s no AI option for that. 


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Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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