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Building Approvals, Australia

Provides the number of dwelling units and value of buildings approved

Reference period
January 2021
Released
2/03/2021
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    Building Approvals, Australia, January 2021
  • Next Release 31/03/2021
    Building Approvals, Australia, February 2021
  • Next Release 9/04/2021
    Building Approvals, Australia, February 2021
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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 change (%)Yearly change (%)
  no.%%
Seasonally adjusted
 Total dwelling units approved15926-19.419.0
 Private sector houses12124-12.238.0
 Private sector dwellings excluding houses3434-39.5-22.7
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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 Wales2223-19.03895-23.2
Victoria3805-8.44656-13.0
Queensland2364-19.02921-33.3
South Australia1070-3.71317-0.5
Western Australia2144-0.92450-4.1
Tasmanianana348-24.8
Northern Territorynananana
Australian Capital Territorynananana
Australia12124-12.215926-19.4

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 building5009.6-17.8
Alterations and additions to residential building840.9-12.7
Total residential building5850.5-17.1
Non-residential building3214.3-16.3
Total building9064.8-16.8
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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

Datacubes

Series ID Concordance

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

Notes

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
NSW117-4373
Vic.7112
Qld-991101
SA-80-13
WA6-85
Tas.12--
NT---
ACT46-207
Total9-41491

Inquiries

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

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 8731.0.

Article archive

Previous feature articles

Residential Construction and the Finance Process, September 2020

Small area demolition approvals, August 2020

Australians building houses on smaller blocks, July 2020

Characteristics of apartment approvals, September 2019

Growth in approvals, December 2018

Change in composition of dwelling approvals, July 2016

Implementation of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard in ABS Building Approvals collection, April 2011

Average floor area of new residential dwellings, February 2010

Average quarterly completion times for new houses, July 2008

Changes in the mix of dwelling types, April 2008

Average floor area of new residential dwellings, February 2008

Are we building on smaller blocks?, July 2004

Focus on the South Australian Construction Industry, June 2004

Focus on the Tasmanian Construction Industry, June 2004

Focus on the Queensland Construction Industry, May 2004

Focus on the Victorian Construction Industry, April 2004

Engineering Construction, March 2004

Focus on the New South Wales Construction Industry, February 2004

Average floor area of new dwellings, December 2003

Work done on housing jobs each quarter, March 2003

Inner city development, December 2002

Functional classification of buildings, August 2002

Building activity in Sydney and Melbourne, July 2002

Changes in the mix of dwelling types, May 2002

Construction Industry information, April 2002

Average value of new houses, March 2002

Largest and fastest growing areas in Australia, November 2001

Functional classification of buildings, August 2001

Average floor area of new dwellings, July 2001

Identifying growth areas, May 2001

Additional Building and Construction feature articles can be found in Feature Articles by Catalogue Number.