U.S. construction spending surged more than expected to a record high in March, as residential and public construction outlays notched fresh records, a government report showed on Monday.

Total construction spending rose 1.5 percent, the biggest increase since last July, to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of $944.051 billion from an upwardly adjusted $930.015 billion in February, the Commerce Department (search) said.

Analysts were expecting a 0.5 percent climb.

Private residential construction spending rose 0.7 percent to a $507.194 billion rate from a revised $503.695 billion pace the month before. Home sales surged in March as buyers jumped to take advantage of low mortgage interest rates that have begun to rise as the U.S. economy gains strength.

All public construction climbed 5.2 percent - the largest jump since August 2000 -- to a $221.666 billion rate in March from a revised a $210.733 billion pace in February. State and local construction outlays rose 5.0 percent to a $205.069 billion rate, a new high.

Federal construction jumped 7.2 percent in March, the largest increase since April last year.

Private non-residential construction spending fell 0.2 percent overall, but spending to build offices, health care facilities and educational structures registered gains.