Building Intentions Hit Record Highs in 2021
By HPAC MagazineConstruction HPAC General commercial construction Permits residential value
The total value of building permits surged 25.6% to $126.5 billion in 2021 over 2020, the strongest annual growth ever recorded, led largely by the residential sector.
According to the latest results published by Statistics Canada, the total value of building permits surged 25.6% to $126.5 billion in 2021 over the year prior, the strongest annual growth ever recorded, led largely by the residential sector.
However, StatCan reports that material price and labour cost increases in the construction industry accounted for almost two-thirds of the increase. On a constant dollar basis (2012=100) the total value of building permits still increased by 9.3% to $88.5 billion.
Residential construction intentions in 2021 were up 29.9%, reaching a record $87.2 billion, with single family permit values rising 41.5% to $40.7 billion, representing 81,000 new units—the most since 2013.
The results reveal that residential construction booms are moving away from larger city centres, with smaller cities in Ontario, like Peterborough (+134.1%), Barrie (+107.5%) and Oshawa (+79.0%) surging, as well as Kelowna, B.C. (+75.8%) reporting a large gain in construction intentions.
Multi-family permit values also hit a record high, rising 21.1% to $46.5 billion, following a similar pattern of faster growth in smaller metro areas including Kelowna (+175.1%) and Lethbridge (+159.0%) in Alberta, and Saguenay (+145.1%) and Trois-Rivières (+120.3%) in Quebec.
The non-residential sector (institutional, commercial and industrial) was up 17.1% to $39.6 billion in 2021 over 2020, continuing to recover to pre-pandemic levels. Only the institutional component exceeded 2019 levels, while the commercial and industrial sectors were both roughly 8% below 2019 totals.
Fourth quarter of 2021 hits new heights
The total value of building permits in the fourth quarter of 2021 jumped 10.3% to a new high of $33.1 billion. This surpassed the previous record of $31.5 billion set in the first quarter of 2021.
The residential sector increased sharply by 11.9% to a record $22.7 billion, contributing almost four-fifths of the overall total building permit value increase. Both permit values for multi-family and single family components rose strongly compared with the third quarter, with the multi-family component exceeding $12 billion for the first time.
The non-residential sector rose 7.0% to $10.4 billion in the fourth quarter, 2.3% below the pre-pandemic peak set in the fourth quarter of 2019. Commercial permits were up 9.9% to $5.9 billion, while institutional and industrial permits rose 3.1% and 4.0%, respectively.