Building Approvals, Australia

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Provides the number of dwelling units and value of buildings approved

Reference period
March 2021

Key statistics

  • The seasonally adjusted estimate for total dwellings approved rose 17.4% in March.
  • Private sector dwellings excluding houses rose 63.6%, while private sector houses rose 0.1%, in seasonally adjusted terms.
  • The seasonally adjusted estimate for the value of non-residential building approved rose 59.4%.

Dwellings approved

March key figures
  Mar-21Monthly changeYearly change
Seasonally adjusted
 Total dwelling units approved2317617.447.4
 Private sector houses141170.160.9
 Private sector dwellings excluding houses856363.627.4

The number of dwellings approved in Australia rose 17.4% in March, in seasonally adjusted terms. This follows a 20.1% increase in February.

Private sector houses rose 0.1% in March, reaching a new record high of 14,117 houses. Private sector dwellings excluding houses increased 63.6% in March, driven by an increase in large apartment approvals in New South Wales and Victoria.

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 Wales2,405-10.56,02026.9
South Australia1,2823.61,4433.5
Western Australia2,493-0.12,728-6.4
Northern Territorynananana
Australian Capital Territorynananana

Total dwelling approvals rose in New South Wales (26.9%), Victoria (24.7%), Queensland (12.1%) and South Australia (3.5%), while Western Australia (-6.4%) and Tasmania (-4.8%) fell, in seasonally adjusted terms.

Approvals for private sector houses rose in Victoria (7.8%) and South Australia (3.6%), in seasonally adjusted terms. Falls were recorded in New South Wales (-10.5%), Queensland (-4.0%) and Western Australia (-0.1%).

Value of building approved

Value of building approved, by building type
Seasonally adjusted
$mMonthly % change
New residential building7,829.525.4
Alterations and additions to residential building1,072.57.3
Total residential building8,902.022.9
Non-residential building6,662.159.4
Total building15,564.136.3

The value of total building approved rose 36.3%, to a record high of $15.6b, in seasonally adjusted terms. The rise in March was driven by an increase in the value of non-residential building (59.4%), to the highest level recorded ($6.66b). The rise in non-residential building can be attributed to a strong increase in both private and public projects approved in March.

The value of total residential building rose 22.9 per cent, comprising a 25.4 per cent rise in new residential building, and a 7.3 per cent increase in alterations and additions, in seasonally adjusted terms. The value of residential alterations and additions approved also reached a record high in March ($1.07b).

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 downloads

Time series spreadsheets

Data files


Series ID Concordance

Private residential alterations and additions, July 2016 - March 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 Level 2 (SA2) and above - Number and value of approvals, monthly, July 2011 onwards

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


Data files


Data notes

This publication provides the number of dwelling units and value of buildings approved released in Building Approvals, Australia on 5 May 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 Areas Level 2 and Local Government Areas. Release dates are published under the “Forthcoming Issues” section of the publication and in ABS Release Advice.

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 was adopted in the January 2021 release of Building Approvals. 

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 faced uncertainty initially, followed by the introduction of government stimulus measures. 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 2019 to February 2021. 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
Dwellings 2019-202020-21
New South Wales6575
South Australia--
Western Australia--2
Northern Territory--
Australian Capital Territory--


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.

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 8731.0.

Post release changes

12/05/2021 - As advertised in the main release of this publication on 5 May 2021, this additional information release contains the small area Excel datacubes and CSV files for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years. 

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