Victorians hoping to cash in on the $25,000 HomeBuilder grants from the federal government have been given an extension.
Initial plans for the scheme required those claiming the cash to commence construction within three months of signing a contract.
In light of stage four COVID-19 restrictions the Commissioner of State Revenue has extended that timeline to six months.
The HomeBuilder grants are available for those building a new home for less than $750,000, or renovating an existing one for between $150,000 and $750,000, subject to certain income criteria.
Early figures from the federal government show almost 10,000 Victorians had registered interest in the grants by late June, after they were announced on June 4.
With just 2700 lots titled at the time the scheme was announced and about 2000 more that could be added to the supply by the end of the year, experts have warned any slowing to the titling process could cost some Victorians access to the cash.
In most instances land must be titled before a home can be built on it.
While the extension does not change the December 31 end date of the scheme, it does mean that buyers who sign a contract on New Year’s Eve would have until June 31, 2021, to have construction commence.
No Victorians have been able to make a formal application for the grant as the state, and most of the rest of Australia awaits an online portal that is expected to be ready by mid this month.
Urban Development Institute of Australia Victorian chief executive Danni Hunter said it was a “common sense decision” by the Victorian and federal governments.
“It gives us breathing space,” Ms Hunter said.
“Nothing is really going to happen in the six week lockdown.”
However, she warned that if the six-week hard lockdown were to extend it would require further intervention to extend the grants scheme to ensure fair access to Victorians.
From 11.59pm on Friday Melbourne’s construction industry will operate under heavy restrictions limiting new house construction to just five people on site at a time.
Larger sites, above three stories, will be limited to 25 per cent of their workforce.
Industry groups including the UDIA are still negotiating key details of how developers and builders will be able to operate over the next six weeks, including whether tradespeople will be able to move from one site to another during the period.
As of 11.59pm tonight all building site workers will need a permit to move about the state.