8752.0 - Building Activity, Australia, Jun 2019 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 09/10/2019   
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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 2008-09 to 2018-19.

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). National data is presented to show changes in average commencement times of 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.

Average times from commencement to completion of construction are presented in Average Dwelling Completion Times.

Data are presented for the following types of dwellings:

  • 'Houses' - 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' - defined as semi-detached row or terrace houses attached in some structural way to one or more dwellings, with their own private grounds and no separate dwelling above or below.
  • 'Flats, units or apartments' - defined as 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).

The data presented are from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) quarterly publication Building Activity, Australia (cat. no. 8752.0). Data presented in this article are available in the 'Building Activity: Average dwelling commencement times' data cube on the downloads tab. The units (in quarters) have been rounded to weeks and days in this article.

Houses or townhouses that took more than three years to commence and apartments that took more than five years to commence were excluded. Houses constructed in groups of more than 10 and townhouses constructed in groups of more than 25 were also excluded. As a result, 1.2% of houses, 22.5% of townhouses and 0.2% of apartments were excluded from this analysis.

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 houses and townhouses from the 2008-09 financial year to the 2018-19 financial year.

The main difference between the two types of residential dwellings is that houses have a lower average commencement time. In 2018-19 the average commencement time of houses was 0.7 quarters (nine weeks and one day) and the average commencement time of townhouses was 0.91 quarters (11 weeks and six days).

The average time between approval and commencement for houses remained fairly steady over the period, varying between 0.67 quarters (eight weeks five days) and 0.76 quarters (nine weeks and six days). The average time between approval and commencement for townhouses was more volatile, varying between 0.73 quarters (nine weeks and four days) and 0.93 quarters (12 weeks and one day).


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


Graph 2 illustrates the Australian average commencement times (in quarters) for flats, units or apartments from the 2008-09 financial year to the 2018-19 financial year. The average commencement time for apartments increased considerably from 2014-15, reaching 1.57 quarters (20 weeks and three days) in 2017-18, before flattening out in 2018-19 at 1.59 quarters (20 weeks and five days). This is in line with an increase in the number of apartments approved, particularly from late 2014 onwards (see Building Approvals, Australia (cat. no. 8731.0)).


Graph 2: Average commencement times of new apartments, Australia


Average commencement times of new houses, state and territories

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

Average time between approval and commencement for houses declined in all states in the 2014-2019 period compared to the 2009-2014 period, with the exception of South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. Western Australia saw the largest decrease with a fall of 0.12 of a quarter (one week and four days), while South Australia saw the largest increase of 0.04 of a quarter (four days).


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



Average commencement times of new townhouses, state and territories


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

South Australia recorded the highest average time between approval and commencement of townhouses, in both the 2009-2014 period and the 2014-2019 period.

The largest decrease in average commencement times between the two periods was in the Northern Territory, with a decrease of 0.49 quarters (six weeks and three days). The largest increase in commencement time was recorded in Tasmania, with an increase of 0.09 quarters (one week and one day).


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



Average commencement times of new flats, units or apartments, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland


Graph 5 illustrates the average commencement times for flats, units or apartments for New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland from the 2008-09 financial year to the 2018-19 financial year. These states account for the large majority of flats, units or apartments under construction.

The average commencement time in New South Wales has increased steadily since 2012-13, from 0.86 quarters (11 weeks and one day) to 1.99 quarters (26 weeks) in 2018-19. Victoria and Queensland have also increased over the same period (to 1.30 quarters (17 weeks) and 1.48 quarters (19 weeks and two days) respectively in 2018-19), although not to the same extent as New South Wales.


Graph 5: Average commencement times of new flats, units or apartments, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland