Australian Bureau of Statistics

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Building Activity Survey

The quarterly Building Activity Survey (BACS) collects data relating to all stages (commenced, under construction, completed) of residential and non-residential building activity undertaken in the reference quarter.

The Building Activity Survey has been conducted since the September quarter 1980. Prior to this, building activity details were obtained from the Building Operations Census.


The predominant requirement of BACS is to provide quarterly estimates of Value of Work Done and Value of Commencements data for national accounts purposes and economic policy departments. BACS also provides official National and State estimates of the number of dwellings commenced.
    The 1994 Building Statistics Review found that the provision of BACS data was considered to be essential by high profile users such as the Commonwealth Treasury, Reserve Bank & the Indicative Planning Council for the Housing Industry. No adequate alternative sources of data were identified as a substitute for BACS data.

      The statistics are compiled from returns collected from builders and other individuals and organisations engaged in building activity. The building approvals collection provides the framework for the survey which consists of two components:
      • a sample survey of private sector building jobs involving residential building jobs valued at $10,000 or more and non-residential building jobs valued at $50,000 or more, and
      • a complete enumeration of all such public sector building jobs.


      The population of approved jobs from which selections are made for inclusion in BACS comprises all in-scope approved building jobs which were notified to the ABS up to but not including the last month of the reference quarter. This introduces a lag to the statistics in respect of those jobs notified and commenced in the last month of the reference quarter. For example, building jobs which were notified as approved in the month of December and which actually commenced in that month are shown as commencements in the March quarter.

      Building jobs included in each quarterly survey comprise those jobs selected in previous quarters which have not been completed (or commenced) by the end of the previous quarter & those jobs newly selected in the current quarter.

      The data collected are Value of work done, Estimated completion value, Month of commencement, Month of completion & Floor area created.

      Construction activity not defined as building (eg, construction of roads, bridges, railways, earthworks, etc) is excluded from the collection. Statistics for this activity can be found in Engineering Construction Activity, Australia (cat. no. 8762.0).


      Data are released quarterly in a national publication. Because of sampling in BACS, data on new house jobs & on alterations and additions to residential buildings are not available for regions less than Capital City Statistical Division's and Rest of State.




      Data from the BACS are available in the following publications.

        Construction Work Done, Australia, Preliminary (cat. no. 8755.0)

        Dwelling Unit Commencements, Australia Preliminary (cat. no. 8750.0)

        Building Activity, Australia (cat. no. 8752.0)

        More detailed estimates are available through our Building and construction consultancy services.

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        Commonwealth of Australia 2008

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