8731.0 - Building Approvals, Australia, July 2013 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/09/2013   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All


For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


The Building Approvals collection gathers data on a monthly basis relating to the number and value of residential and non-residential building approvals, from information provided by approving authorities. Data collected are available as part of the normal administrative building approval process, and are generally readily available from the relevant local government or other approving authority.

The collection is a census of all approved building jobs (above specified value limits) and comprises the following activities:

    • construction of new buildings
    • alterations and additions to existing buildings
    • approved non-structural renovation and refurbishment work
    • approved installation of integral building fixtures.

For the purposes of this collection, a building is a rigid, fixed and permanent structure which has a roof. Its intended purpose is primarily to house people, plant, machinery, vehicles, goods or livestock. An integral feature of a building's design is the provision for regular access by persons in order to satisfy its intended use.

Buildings are classified by ownership, based on the sector (public or private) of the intended owner of the completed building at the time of approval. They are further classified by Type of Building (e.g, "residential", "non-residential") and by Type of Work ("new", "alterations and additions" and "conversions").


8731.0 Building Approvals, Australia is issued monthly and released 4-5 weeks after the reference month. A supplementary release of small area Building Approvals data occurs up to 10 working days after the main publication is released.


The Building Approvals collection is a census and hence is not subject to sampling error. However, issues such as coverage of reporting authorities and completeness and timeliness of reporting, as well as the quality of the data reported, do exist.

Building Approvals data is collected as administrative by-product from local government and other reporting authorities and can be sensitive to changes in legislation and administrative practices which can vary from State to State.

The introduction of private certification introduced another step in the building approval process. Private certifiers lodge approval details with reporting authorities, who then load them to their systems and report all building approvals in their jurisdiction to the ABS. This extra step can cause a lag in the provision of building approvals to the ABS. This can mean, for some authorities, that complete data for a particular month is not available until the following month.

Revisions as a result of data collection problems are made to Building Approval estimates. There are a number of reasons for data collection problems such as reporting authorities experiencing problems with their processing systems, reporting incomplete data and not reporting within the correct timeframe. In these cases an estimate is included for that month. Overall, revisions are generally confined to the last 12-18 months, depending on their significance.

Value data reported for houses are generally a reliable indicator of the completed value, but for "other residential buildings" and "non-residential buildings" they can differ significantly from the completed value of the building. This is because final costs and contracts have not been established before council approval is gained.


Most data are directly comparable over different collection cycles. The original estimates of the number and value of dwelling units approved, in new residential buildings, are available at the Australia level from January 1956.

The Type of Work classification refers to the building activity carried out: new, alterations and additions, or conversions. Up to and including the December 1997 issue of 8731.0, conversions were published as part of a category called "Conversions, etc". This category included dwellings created by:

    • alterations and additions to residential buildings,
    • conversion of non-residential buildings to residential buildings (i.e. "conversions"), and
    • construction of non-residential buildings.

From the January 1998 issue onwards, the three components of "conversions, etc" are shown separately in their own right in some tables. However, the corresponding value of the dwellings created as part of the construction of non-residential buildings (the third component above) remains in the value of the appropriate non-residential building category.

The Value of Approval includes the 10% Goods and Services Tax (GST) from 1/07/2000. However, this is unlikely to have caused a significant one-off impact between June and July because it is likely that values inclusive of GST had been gradually included in the series for the 6 months or more leading up to 1/07/2000. This is because if a building job was not expected to have been completed prior to 1/07/2000, then it was known that the portion not completed would be subject to the GST. For further discussion see the Technical Note "Factors that influence the valuation of building approvals" in 8731.0 Building Approvals, Australia, Jul 2000 issue.

The survey has adjusted to increasing current prices by adjusting the size of the approvals that are included in the collection. From July 1990 these statistics include:

    • All approved residential building jobs (new and alterations and additions) valued at $10,000 or more;
    • All approved non-residential building jobs (new and alterations and additions) valued at $50,000 or more.


The major series estimates for this collection are available in original, seasonally adjusted and trend series. To find out more information on seasonal adjustment and trend estimates please see Timeseries Analysis Frequently Asked Questions or 8731.0 Building Approvals explanatory notes.

Where it has been identified by a council or other approving authority that approvals submitted from its jurisdiction are on a GST-exclusive basis, the ABS has made adjustments to the data to ensure that values are consistent with other data collected and are inclusive of GST.


Building approvals data is administrative by-product data that is available to the general public. However, the data is collected under authority of the Census and Statistics Act, and data published or made available can relate to individual building jobs approved. Information relating to individual approvals can be released under clause 2 (2) (d) of the Statistics Determination 1983.

Data cubes containing small area information are available from the ABS website. The data cubes are available at the Statistical Local Area level under the ASGC for financial years from 2001-02 to 2011-12. Data cubes at the Statistical Area 2 level of the ASGS are available for financial years from 2011-12 onwards.

If the information you require is not available as a standard product or service, then ABS Consultancy Services can help you with customised services to suit your needs. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.