Building Approvals, Australia

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Provides the number of dwelling units and value of buildings approved

Reference period
January 2021

Key statistics

  • The seasonally adjusted estimate for total dwellings approved fell 19.4% in January.
  • Private sector houses fell 12.2%, while private sector dwellings excluding houses fell 39.5%, in seasonally adjusted terms.
  • The seasonally adjusted estimate for the value of non-residential building approved fell 16.3%.

Dwellings approved

January key figures
  Jan-21Monthly changeYearly change
Seasonally adjusted
 Total dwelling units approved15926-19.419.0
 Private sector houses12124-12.238.0
 Private sector dwellings excluding houses3434-39.5-22.7

The number of dwellings approved in Australia fell 19.4% in January, in seasonally adjusted terms. Private sector houses fell by 12.2% in January, coming off a record high in December 2020.  Approvals for private sector dwellings excluding houses remained weak in January, falling 39.5%, to the lowest level recorded since January 2012.

Dwellings approved, states and territories
Seasonally adjusted
Private sector housesPrivate sector housesTotal dwelling units approvedTotal dwelling units approved
no.Monthly % changeno.Monthly % change
New South Wales2,223-19.03,895-23.2
South Australia1,070-3.71,317-0.5
Western Australia2,144-0.92,450-4.1
Northern Territorynananana
Australian Capital Territorynananana

Dwelling approvals fell across all states, in seasonally adjusted terms; Queensland (33.3%), Tasmania (24.8%), New South Wales (23.2%), Victoria (13.0%), Western Australia (4.1%) and South Australia (0.5%).

Approvals for private sector houses also fell across all states in January; New South Wales (19.0%), Queensland (19.0%), Victoria (8.4%), South Australia (3.7%) and Western Australia (0.9%).

Value of building approved

Value of building approved, by building type
Seasonally adjusted
$mMonthly % change
New residential building5,009.6-17.8
Alterations and additions to residential building840.9-12.7
Total residential building5,850.5-17.1
Non-residential building3,214.3-16.3
Total building9,064.8-16.8

The value of total building approved fell 16.8% in January, in seasonally adjusted terms. The value of non-residential building fell 16.3%, after rising 11.3% in December.

The value of total residential building approved fell in January, by 17.1%. This was comprised of a 17.8% fall in new residential building, and a 12.7% fall in residential alterations and additions, in seasonally adjusted terms.

Data downloads

Time series spreadsheets

Data files


Series ID Concordance

Private residential alterations and additions, July 2016 - January 2021 - States and Territories

Small area datacubes

Data files


ABS.Stat datasets

Help for: ABS.Stat Datasets

Building Approvals by Greater Capital Cities Statistical Area (GCCSA) and above - Number and value of approvals, monthly, July 2001 onwards

Building Approvals by Statistical Area (SA2 and above), July 2016 onwards - Number and value of approvals, monthly, July 2016 onwards

Building Approvals by Local Government Area (LGA 2016) - Number and value of approvals, monthly, 2016/17

Building Approvals by Local Government Area (LGA 2017) - Number and value of approvals, monthly, 2017/18

Building Approvals by Local Government Area (LGA 2018) - Number and value of approvals, monthly, 2018/19

Building Approvals by Local Government Area (LGA 2019) - Number and value of approvals, monthly, 2019/20

Building Approvals by Local Government Area (LGA 2020) - Number and value of approvals, monthly, 2020/21

Interactive map

To view the interactive map, click here.

Note that the interactive map will be offline soon after this publication release and will be refreshed with the current month's data within 24 hours.

How to use


Data notes

This publication provides the number of dwelling units and value of buildings approved released in Building Approvals, Australia on 2 March 2021.

Small area data cubes and CSV files will be made available in an “Additional Information” release five business days after the main publication. These will be for Statistical Area Level 2 and Local Government Areas. Release dates are published under the “Forthcoming Issues” section of the publication and in ABS Release Advice.

The ABS.Stat datasets will be available later than usual in this release, as data back to July 2016 will be updated. It is expected that the GCCSA datasets will be available by March 5th, while the SA2 and LGA datasets will be available by March 17th.

A number of time series spreadsheets contain ‘np’ (not available for publication) annotations. This is due to confidential data being contained in these series.

Classification update

An update to the ABS' Functional Classification of Buildings (FCB) was published on 21 January 2021. The updated classification has been adopted in this release (January 2021) of Building Approvals. There is no impact on headline series, such as the number of houses, other residential dwellings or total dwellings approved.

The changes affect the series identifiers in the following time series spreadsheets: 10 to 29 and 42 to 77 inclusive. A concordance from the new to old series identifiers is provided in the Data downloads section. 

The updated classification splits "Flats, units or apartments - In a block of four or more storeys" into two categories: "Apartments - In a four to eight storey block" and "Apartments - In a nine or more storey block". Data for the "four or more storeys" category will continue to be reported in the time series spreadsheets. Data is available for the two new categories from the July 2016 month onwards. In addition to the time series spreadsheets, these categories will be included in the small-area CSV files and ABS.Stat. 

Suspension of trend series

The trend series attempts to measure underlying behaviour in building approval activity. In the short term, this measurement will be significantly affected by changes to regular patterns in approval activity during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, as potential home builders face on-going uncertainty. If the trend estimates in this publication were to be calculated without fully accounting for this irregular event, they would likely provide a misleading view of underlying approval activity.

The Building Approvals monthly trend series have therefore been suspended starting from May 2020, while the quarterly series have been suspended from the June 2020 quarter. The trend series will be reinstated when more certainty emerges in the underlying trend.

Update to seasonal adjustment methods

Building Approvals uses the concurrent seasonal adjustment method, meaning that seasonal factors are re-estimated each time a new data point becomes available. If not appropriately accounted for, unusual real-world events, such as COVID-19, can distort estimates calculated using this method. From May 2020, seasonal factors are being calculated using data up to and including April 2020, then projected from May 2020 onwards. This approach, known as the forward factor method, ensures that the seasonal factors are not distorted by COVID-19 impacts. 

Revisions this month

In this release, revisions are provided for the time period from July 2016 to December 2020. Further information about potential sources of revisions can be found in the feature article released with the January 2016 Building Approvals publication - "Revisions to Building Approval Statistics".

Revisions to the total number of dwelling units approved in this issue are:

 Financial year
Dwellings2016-17 to 2018-19 2019-202020-21


For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070. The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to us.

History of changes

10/03/2021 - As advertised in the main release of this publication on 03 March 2021, this additional information release contains the small area Excel datacubes and CSV files for the 2016-17 to 2020-21 financial years. 

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 8731.0.

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