8752.0 - Building Activity, Australia, Dec 2016 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/04/2017   
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AVERAGE DWELLING COMMENCEMENT TIMES

INTRODUCTION

This article examines the average commencement times (in quarters) for new houses, townhouses and flats, units or apartments from 2006-2016.

Commencement times are measured as the period (in quarters) between the granting of building approval and the commencement of construction (defined as when the first physical building activity has been performed on site - see Glossary for further information). Only projects creating new dwelling units (self-contained suite of rooms intended for long-term residential use) are included in the analysis. National data is presented to show changes in average commencement times of new houses, townhouses and flats, units or apartments. Regional data is presented in five year periods to allow for broader comparisons between the states and territories.

The data presented is from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) quarterly publication Building Activity, Australia (cat. no. 8752.0). 'New houses' are defined as detached buildings used for long term residential purposes, consisting of only one dwelling unit and are not a result of alterations or additions to a pre-existing building. 'Townhouses' are dwellings with their own private grounds and no separate dwelling above or below. They are either attached in some structural way to one or more dwellings or are separated from neighbouring non-residential buildings by less than 500 millimetres. 'Flats, units or apartments' are blocks of dwellings that don't have their own private grounds and usually share a common entrance, foyer or stairwell. For further information refer to Functional Classification of Buildings, 1999 (Revision 2011) (cat. no. 1268.0.55.001).

For the data relating to houses and townhouses, dwellings that took more than three years to commence or were constructed in groups of 10 or more were excluded. As a result, approximately 4.9% of commenced houses and townhouses were excluded. Projects that have been approved but have not commenced (including projects that were abandoned) are excluded from the analysis.


RESULTS

Australian average commencement times

Graph 1 illustrates the Australian average commencement times, in quarters, for new houses and townhouses from September quarter 2006 to December quarter 2016.

The main difference between the two types of residential dwellings is that new houses had a lower average commencement time. Over the 2006-2016 period, new houses had an average commencement time of 0.74 quarters (nine weeks and four days) compared with an average commencement time of 0.88 quarters (11 weeks and three days) for new townhouses.

Average time between approval and commencement for new houses remained fairly steady over the period, between 0.6 and 0.9 quarters. Average time between approval and commencement for new townhouses was more volatile, varying between 0.7 and 1.2 quarters.


Graph 1: Average commencement times of new houses and new townhouses, Australia

Graph 1: Average commencement times of new houses and new townhouses, Australia


Graph 2 illustrates the Australian average time between approval and commencement (in quarters) for new flats, units or apartments from September 2006 to December 2016. The average commencement time for new apartments is highly volatile, although it has remained at 1.4 quarters (18 weeks and one day) or over throughout 2016.

Graph 2: Average commencement times of new apartments, Australia

Graph 2: Average commencement times of new apartments, Australia

Average commencement times for new houses, state and territories

Graph 3 illustrates the five year average commencement times for new houses over a 10 year period for Australia and the states and territories.

Average time between approval and commencement for new houses declined in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory in the 2011-2016 period compared to the 2006-2011 period. In contrast, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory recorded a slight increase in average time between approval and commencement. Northern Territory saw the largest decrease with a fall of 0.32 of a quarter (four weeks and one day), while Tasmania saw the largest increase of 0.11 of a quarter (one week and three days).

Graph 3: Average commencement times of new houses, five year averages, states, territories and Australia

Graph 3: Average commencement times of new houses, five year averages, states, territories and Australia


Average commencement times for new townhouses, state and territories

Graph 4 illustrates the five year average commencement times for new townhouses over a 10 year period for Australia and the states and territories.

South Australia and Northern Territory recorded the highest average time between approval and commencement of new townhouses, in both the 2006-2011 period and the 2011-2016 period.

The largest decrease in average commencement times between the two periods was in NSW, with a decrease of 0.20 quarters (two weeks and four days). The largest increase in commencement time was recorded in South Australia, with an increase of 0.21 quarters (two weeks and five days).

Graph 4: Average commencement times for new townhouses, five year averages, states, territories and Australia


Graph 4: Average commencement times for new townhouses, five year averages, states, territories and Australia

Average commencement times for new flats, units or apartments, state and territories

Graph 5 illustrates the five year average commencement times for new flats, units or apartments over a 10 year period for Australia and the states and territories.

The largest increase in average commencement time was seen in Victoria, with an increase of 0.17 quarters (two weeks and one day). The largest decrease in average commencement time was seen in Queensland, with a fall of 0.05 quarters (five days).


Graph 5: Average commencement times for new flats, units or apartments


Graph 5: Average commencement times for new flats, units or apartments

Although there has been little change in average commencement times for new houses and townhouses, average commencement times for new apartments have noticeably increased. The total Australian average commencement time for new houses and new townhouses declined in the 2011-2016 period compared to the 2006-2011 period (by 0.04 quarters and 0.09 quarters respectively), while the average commencement time for new apartments increased by 0.14 quarters (one week and six days).
Average times from commencement to completion of construction are presented in the previous feature article, Average dwelling completion times.