Housing starts across the country exceeded expectations during March, topping 1 million for the first time since mid-2008, according to a monthly from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Those starts, which get counted when a builder starts digging, were driven by apartment construction. 

Multi-family units were up 30 percent compared with the previous month while single-family starts were down almost five percent, suggesting that rising construction costs and constraints on lot inventories have been a drag on builders.

Here's a link to the full report from the Commerce Department.