The Australian construction industry, once booming with new home builds, is now facing a significant challenge that could lead to a decline in housing projects. Amidst a severe shortage of skilled tradespeople, the sector is grappling with delays, rising completion times, and a potential decrease in demand for new properties.


In recent times, the Australian construction landscape has witnessed a surge in new home builds, fueled in part by government incentives and grants during the pandemic. However, this growth comes with its own set of challenges, as supply issues and a lack of skilled tradespeople begin to cast a shadow over the industry's future.

The Current Situation

Total new construction of homes across the country is on the brink of facing a decline, with expectations of up to 200,000 fewer dwellings being built per year until 2026. This sobering prediction comes from Masterbuilders, the peak body representing builders. Despite the current record-high number of homes under construction, the demand is gradually easing.

The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals a concerning trend. New housing starts fell by 5.2% over the September quarter, marking a significant 21.2% drop since September 2021. As property prices soared during the pandemic, many Australians capitalized on government incentives, intensifying the pursuit of the dream of home ownership.

Delays and Drawn-Out Construction Times

The surge in new home builds has inadvertently led to a prolonged construction process. Supply shortages, stemming from global manufacturing slowdowns, have resulted in extended construction timelines. One man, Blake Pulic from Adelaide, has become the face of thousands who are experiencing the aftermath of these challenges. When Pulic signed a contract with builder Distinctive Homes in April 2021, he anticipated moving into his new home by mid-2022. However, almost two years later, completion seems far from sight.

Skilled Tradespeople Shortage

A massive shortage of skilled tradespeople lies at the heart of this crisis. The completion time for new homes, which used to average around nine months, has now extended beyond 12 months after settlement. Masterbuilders CEO Denita Wawn sheds light on the situation, estimating an immediate workforce shortfall of around 70,000 to 80,000 people. However, the projection for the longer term is even more alarming, reaching approximately 450,000.

Future Predictions

While the construction industry is currently grappling to keep pace with demand, Masterbuilders predicts a 15% drop in new home starts for the year 2024. This downward trend is expected to persist until after 2026, with the stabilization of interest rates and an increase in migration potentially offering some relief.

Government Initiatives

The Australian Federal Government is actively seeking solutions to address the skills shortage. Submissions for the Migration System for Australia's Future discussion paper are open, aiming to explore reforms to migration and skilled worker programs. Masterbuilders has submitted proposals to increase the number of skilled migrants entering the country and to create more flexibility in eligibility criteria.

Financial and Emotional Strain

Individuals and families embarking on a new home build face not only financial strain but also emotional challenges. Delays due to land settlement, supply acquisition, and tradespeople shortages have become a common thread. For the Pulic family, these challenges are real. As they rent and make mortgage payments, they eagerly await the completion of their dream home.


The Australian construction industry is at a crossroads, with the prospects of new home builds facing a decline due to a shortage of skilled tradespeople. As the sector grapples with delays, extended construction times, and potential demand reductions, initiatives to attract skilled workers and government intervention become crucial to ensuring the industry's sustainable growth.