Building Commencements

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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

    The monthly collection of Dwelling Unit Commencements Reported by Approving Authorites (BCOS) provided data on the number of new dwelling units reported by approving authorities as having commenced. This collection was able to provide numbers of dwelling commencements at a more detailed regional level and on a more timely basis than the quarterly Building Activity Survey (BACS).

    These statistics were compiled from data provided by local and other government authorities on commencements of new house and other residential building jobs for which:

    • building permits were issued by Local Authorities; or
    • contracts were let or day labour work approved by Commonwealth, State, Semi-Government, and Local Authorities.

    For the purposes of this statistical series, a job was regarded as being commenced on the date when:
    • the job was first inspected by a Local Authority or other government authority building inspector or surveyor, whether the work was passed or not. In general, the first inspection was undertaken at the foundations or footings stage of construction; or
    • the job was determined as commenced by a building inspector or surveyor.

    Data for dwelling unit commencements was collected and published on a monthly basis from July 1980 in all States. However, no data was published for the ACT, nor has a national publication been released. Data for the Northern Territory was published, starting with the six month period July to December 1992.

    From the December quarter 1996 the collection was restricted to Western Australia and South Australia and collections ceased in those two States after the September quarter 1997.

    Because of the differences in data sources and collection methodologies and timing of notification of commencements, care should be exercised in comparing quarterly data derived from monthly dwelling commencement statistics with the quarterly dwelling commencement statistics from the BACS.

    The prime purpose was to provide data for calculation of the stock of dwellings and for population estimates purposes and to identify growth regions.

    Commencements of new residential building jobs for which an approval has been received.


    Conceptual framework
    BCOS collected data from approving authorities about the first inspection dates of residential building jobs approved by the authority.

    Data was generally available down to the Census Collection District level.

    Actual date or month of commencement was acquired. This allowed presentation and analysis by virtually any period. The commencement "record" was simply a part of the approval record and hence data could be cross referenced to produce "lag" (time from approval to commencement) and "leakage" (jobs not yet commenced) statistics at the record level and at small area level.

    Main outputs
    Publications Available
    Publications titled "Dwelling Unit Commencements Reported by Approving Authorities" were produced for States/Territories with the final issues being as indicated below:

    Final issue
    New South Wales (ABS Cat No. 8741.1) September 1996
    Victoria (ABS Cat No. 8741.2) June 1996
    Queensland (ABS Cat No. 8741.3) September 1996
    South Australia (ABS Cat No. 8741.4) September 1997
    Western Australia (ABS Cat No. 8741.5) September 1997
    Tasmania (ABS Cat No. 8741.6) September 1996
    Northern Territory (ABS Cat No. 8741.7) March 1993

    Contents of Publications
    The publications contain details of the number of dwelling units commenced classified by ownership, statistical division, statistical subdivision and statistical local area.

    Major classifications used include Type of Work, Type of Building, Ownership, Materials.

    Other concepts (summary)
    Not applicable.

    New South Wales
    South Australia
    Western Australia
    Statistical Division
    Statistical Subdivision
    Statistical Local Area
    Census Collection District
    Legal Local Government Area
    Statistical District
    Major Statistical Region
    Statistical Region
    Section of State
    Major Statistical District
    Part of State Metropolitan
    Part of State Extra-Metropolitan
    Census Division
    Census Subdivision
    Capital City Statistical Division

    Comments and/or Other Regions
    No data was published for the ACT and the final data published for the NT was for March 1993.


    Frequency comments
    Was quarterly from September quarter 1980 to December quarter 1990 and then monthly until September 1996. For the period October 1996 to September 1997 (for SA and WA only) the publications were quarterly but with monthly data.

    The BCOS collection was discontinued in Victoria after June 1996, in NSW, Qld and Tasmania after September 1996 and in SA and WA (where it continued for an extra year as user funded collections) after September 1997.

    Reasons for its cessation included the fact that the BACS and monthly ABS Building Approvals (BAPS) collections were suitable alternative sources for most users needs and concerns about the reliability of the data given the changing role of council inspections at the commencement stage.


    Data availability comments
    No data available after September 1997 for any States/Territories, due to cessation of the collection.

    20/09/2005 05:21 PM