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Extension of HomeBuilder construction start welcomed

The Federal Government’s weekend announcement that the construction commencement requirement for the HomeBuilder has been extended has been welcomed by industry groups.

On Saturday, the Government announced an extension from six months to 18 months for the start of construction for all existing applicants.

The changes will bring the total level of expected Government support for the construction sector under the program to $2.5 billion.

More than 121,000 Australians have applied for the grant, which is expected to support about $30 billion of residential construction projects.

The program was designed to protect tradespeople’s jobs and stimulate economic activity in the residential construction sector in response to the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government said the decision to provide existing applicants with an additional 12 months to commence construction was made in response to unexpected delays in the construction industry caused by COVID-19-related supply constraints.

The extension will only apply to existing applicants and will provide an additional 12 months to commence construction from the date the building contract was signed. 

All applicants who signed contracts during the HomeBuilder eligibility period between June 4, 2020 and March 31, 2021 would have the extension applied to them.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the HomeBuilder program has been a key part of the Federal Government’s National Economic Recovery Plan.

“Extending the construction commencement requirement will smooth out the HomeBuilder construction pipeline, support jobs in the construction sector, and ensure that existing applicants facing difficulties in starting construction on their new builds and renovations are not denied a HomeBuilder grant due to circumstances outside their control,” Mr Frydenburg said.

Federal Housing Minister Michael Sukkar said the high take-up of HomeBuilder had shown the grant program had achieved its goal.

“The swift introduction of HomeBuilder gave Australians the confidence to build or rebuild a home during a period of great uncertainty,” Mr Sukkar said.

Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn said the extension would provide thousands of people with certainty that they would receive the grant. 

“More than 120,000 HomeBuilder applications have created huge pressure on the supply chain,” Ms Wawn said. 

“Master Builders Australia’s survey of the industry shows that 70 per cent of builders are being hit by delays and cost increases for key trades and building products.”

Ms Wawn said these delays had created the risk that applicants could miss out on the grants because builders were unable to meet deadlines to start construction.

“Thanks to this move by the Federal Government, thousands of HomeBuilder applicants around the country can now breathe a huge sigh of relief,” she said.

The Property Council of Australia has also thrown its support behind the extension, with CEO Ken Morrison describing the HomeBuilder program as an ‘economic bullseye’ for the industry.

“This extension is a common sense solution that takes the pressure off homebuyers and home builders over the next few months,” Mr Morrison said.

Applications closed on the April 14, however, applicants will now have until April 30, 2023, to submit all supporting documentation, such as invoices for work done, and proof construction has started, to their state or territory revenue office.

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