Average dwelling completion times

Released
9/10/2019

Introduction

This article examines the average completion times (in quarters) for new houses, townhouses and flats, units or apartments from 2008-09 to 2018-19.

Completion times are measured as the period (in quarters) between the commencement and completion of construction for a project creating new dwellings. National data is presented to show changes in the average completion 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.

Average times from approval to commencement of construction are presented in Average Dwelling Commencement Times.

Data is 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 (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 completion times' data cube on the Data downloads section. The units (in quarters) have been rounded to months and weeks in this article.

Houses or townhouses that took more than three years to complete and apartments that took more than five years to complete 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, 1.8% of houses, 20.5% of townhouses and 0.1% of apartments were excluded from this analysis.

Results

Australian average completion times

Graph 1 illustrates the Australian average completion 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 completion time than townhouses. In 2018-19, the average completion time of houses was 2.22 quarters (six months and three weeks) and the average completion time of townhouses was 3.36 quarters (ten months). Townhouses are constructed in groups of more than one dwelling at a time, whereas new houses are more commonly constructed as single dwellings, which affects how long they take to complete.

Average completion times for houses remained fairly steady over the period, varying between 2.16 quarters (six months and two weeks) and 2.48 quarters (seven months and two weeks) to complete. Average completion times for townhouses were slightly more volatile over the same period, varying between 2.89 quarters (eight months and three weeks) and 3.36 quarters (ten months).

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Graph 2 illustrates Australian average completion times, in quarters, for new flats, units or apartments from the 2008-09 financial year to the 2018-19 financial year.

Completion times for flats, units or apartments are substantially higher than houses and townhouses, given the number of dwellings constructed per project is usually much higher and also includes the construction of common areas (i.e. entrances and stairwells).

Average completion times for flats, units or apartments have increased, particularly over the past three years, from 5.84 quarters (17 months and two weeks) in 2015-16 to 6.66 quarters (19 months and four weeks) in 2018-19. 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)).

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Average completion times of new houses, state and territories

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

Average completion times for houses declined in all states in the 2014-2019 period compared to the 2009-2014 period, with the exception of Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory. Tasmania recorded the largest decrease of 0.24 of a quarter (three weeks), while the Australian Capital Territory increased 0.36 of a quarter (one month).

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Average completion times of new townhouses, state and territories

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

Average completion times for townhouses declined in all states in the 2014-2019 period compared to the 2009-2014 period, with the exception of Queensland, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. The Northern Territory recorded the biggest decrease of 0.26 of a quarter (three weeks), while the Australian Capital Territory recorded an increase of 0.19 of a quarter (two weeks).

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

Graph 5 illustrates the average completion 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 completion time of apartments in New South Wales and Victoria tend to be quite similar and have both increased slightly over the period; from 5.71 quarters (17 months and one week) to 6.81 quarters (20 months and two weeks) in New South Wales and from 5.89 quarters (17 months and three weeks) to 6.52 quarters (19 months and two weeks) in Victoria. The average completion time in Queensland has increased over the past 5 years from 4.62 quarters (13 months and four weeks) in 2014-15 to 6.92 quarters (20 months and three weeks) in 2018-19, and is now more in line with both Victoria and New South Wales.

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