While permits issued slipped 3.1 percent from October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,007,000, housing starts jumped 22.7 percent to an adjusted annual rate of 1,091,000.
From a year earlier, permits issued were up 7.9 percent, while construction starts were up 29.6 percent.
For housing starts, the 22.7 percent climb was the biggest one-month jump since January 1990.
Housing completions dropped marginally, falling 0.1 percent to an adjusted annual rate of 823,000.
Project completions are 21.6 percent higher than November 2012, the department said.