June 16 AAP - Builders started work on a total 42,399 new homes in the three months to the end of March, the biggest quarterly number in nearly six years, new data shows.
Dwelling commencements rose by a seasonally adjusted 4.3 per cent in the quarter, building on a revised 16.8 per cent jump in the previous three months, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday.
Over the 12 months to the end of March commencements rose by 34.7 per cent.
Economists' forecasts had centred on a 7.0 per cent rise in dwelling commencements in the March quarter, reflecting the strength of building approvals in the second half of 2009.
Rising approvals were the result of previously low interest rates and the government's more generous first homebuyers grant, which at one stage offered $21,000 for the purchase of new properties.
Also part of the government's stimulus strategy was the building of low-cost public housing across the country.