Residential construction spending grew 1.6% in January from a month earlier and 5.4% from 2011, according to the Census Bureau.

The seasonally adjusted measure reached $260.6 billion, the highest level of residential construction since April 2010. January also marked the sixth consecutive month of growth.

Private spending, the vast majority of residential construction, rose 1.8% and 6.7% from a month and year earlier to $253.6 billion. New single-family home spending grew 5.5% to $113.9 billion from January 2011, while multifamily construction spiked 20% to $16.2 billion.

Public residential construction, which includes Section 8 and other housing projects, plummeted 27.7% to $7 billion from January 2011.

Spending is still well below prerecession levels, as actual residential construction expenditures of $244.4 billion in 2011 marked a 16-year low.

Total construction spending dipped 0.1% to $827 billion from $827.6 billion in December, but grew 7.6% from the year-earlier period.