Building permit approvals rise 1.4% in 1st quarter

APPROVED building permit applications increased 1.4% from a year earlier in the first quarter to 33,627, signaling improvement in construction demand, according to preliminary data issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority.

The building projects covered by the permits were equivalent to 6.44 million square meters, valued at P80.02 billion. Floor size and value totals were down 23% and 12.1%, respectively, from a year earlier.

UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc. Chief Economist Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion said the decline in overall value and scope of building projects “may mean that potential (start of) momentum for the industry is still far off,” he said in an e-mail.

“But, the uptick in permits is a great sign going in the right direction,” he added.

Residential permits accounted for 69.5% of the total, with their number rising 6.2% to 23,364 during the period.

Single homes made up 89.4% of total residential construction, and accounted for 20,881 permits, up 6.3%.

Apartment/accessoria building project approvals rose 4.8% to 2,127, while approvals for duplexes and quadruplexes rose 24.9% to 321.

Residential condominium permits fell 44% to 14.

Meanwhile, non-residential construction starts declined 13.5% to 5,297 in the first three months.

Within this segment, commercial construction declined 12.1% to 3,570. This category accounted for 67.4% of non-residential construction during the period.

Institutional, industrial, and agricultural building permits also declined 19.3% (to 897), 19.3% (to 459), and 17.7% (to 209), respectively.

Bucking the trend was permit approvals for “other non-residential” buildings, which increased 25.6% to 162.

Applications to make additions to standing structures dropped 30.4% to 872, while alteration and repair permits rose 7.7% to 4,094.

Calabarzon — composed of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon provinces — accounted for 21.7% of approved building permits in the first three months at 7,288. It was followed by the Ilocos Region (11.9% or 4,015) and Central Luzon (11.1% or 3,722).

“As the economy continues to reopen and as more vaccines come and people actually get the jab, the succeeding quarters for construction may continue to improve and we may see momentum gaining very soon,” Mr. Asuncion said. — Bernadette Therese M. Gadon