In Victoria, the cost of constructing a house accelerated by 5% in 2017 according to the CoreLogic CHIP index December quarter results. According to the measure, this is now higher than the national pace of 4% across Australia, and the highest growth rate of all of the states for the year.  

CoreLogic commercial research analyst Eliza Owen said, “Several factors have contributed to this rapid increase in construction costs in the state. Namely, Victoria’s strong housing growth in the last few years which has delivered increased demand for housing construction materials and labour as developers seek to capitalise on high capital growth rates.” 

Along with increases in building input values and labour, CoreLogic development data indicates that 11.1% of residential subdivision commencements across Victoria were located in the state’s regional areas. Furthermore, 48.6% of residential subdivisions commenced on the fringes of the Melbourne metropolitan area and included Hume, Whittlesea and Wyndham. As a result, higher freight costs are likely to be built into the delivery of materials to regional sites.  

Note: The CoreLogic CHIP index uses a standard house model over time to isolate changes in the cost of building materials and labour that go into constructing a house. CoreLogic tracks a separate index for Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.
   
The National CHIP index rose 4% over 2017 and has diverged significantly from growth in CPI since around 2003. Since this time, inflation has averaged 0.62%, while quarterly nominal growth in the building price index has averaged 1.1%. Furthermore, as subdued wages have maintained a low inflationary environment in Australia, the gap between building costs and general living costs have increasingly diverged. Eliza Owen said, “This suggests that inflation accounts less and less for the growth in the CHIP index.” 

CoreLogic’s construction and development data has been powered by the acquisition of Cordell in 2015. The CHIP index began in 1990. The Queensland CHIP index has grown the highest of the states since 1990, at 190%. Particular divergence occurred between Queensland and the rest of Australia from the time of the 2011 Queensland floods, when rebuilding accelerated building costs in the state, as well as inflation generally. Find the full CHIP index report for Q4 here.