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Building Activity, Australia methodology

Reference period
March Quarter 2020

Explanatory notes

Introduction

1 This publication contains detailed estimates from the quarterly Building Activity Survey. Each issue includes revisions to the previous quarter. Therefore data for the latest quarter should be considered to be preliminary only.

Scope and coverage

2 The statistics were compiled using building approval details and returns collected from builders and other individuals and organisations engaged in building activity. Since the September quarter of 1990, the quarterly estimates have represented all approved public and private sector owned:

  • residential building jobs valued at $10,000 or more.
  • non-residential building jobs valued at $50,000 or more.


3 As of the September quarter 2010, the survey has consisted of:

  • an indirect, modelled component comprising residential building work with approval values from $10,000 to less than $50,000 and non-residential building work with approval values from $50,000 to less than $250,000. The contributions from these building jobs are modelled based on their building approval details.
  • a direct collection of all identified building work having approval values of $5,000,000 or more.
  • a sample survey, selected from other identified building work.


4 For historical changes to the collection design see the Directory of Statistical Sources on the ABS website.

5 The use of sample survey techniques in the Building Activity Survey means that reliable estimates of building activity are generally available only at state, territory and Australia levels. Although subject to higher relative standard errors (refer to paragraphs 18-21), a range of sub-state estimates of building activity may be available. For further information on the availability of Building Activity estimates, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070. Detailed data on Building Approvals, based on information reported by local government and other reporting authorities, are available for regions below state and territory level from the Building Approval series compiled by the ABS.

6 The statistics relate to building activity which includes construction of new buildings and alterations and additions to existing buildings. Construction activity not defined as building (e.g. construction of roads, bridges, railways, earthworks, etc.) is compiled from the ABS Engineering Construction Survey. Results from the Building Activity Survey, together with estimates from the Engineering Construction Survey, provide a complete quarterly picture of building and construction.

7 Building jobs included in each quarter in the Building Activity Survey comprise those jobs selected in previous quarters which have not been completed (or commenced) by the end of the previous quarter and those jobs newly selected in the current quarter. The population list from which jobs are selected for inclusion comprises all approved building jobs which were notified to the ABS (refer paragraph 3) up to but not including the last month of the reference quarter (i.e. up to the end of August in respect of the September quarter survey). This introduces a lag to the statistics in respect of those jobs notified and commenced in the last month of the reference quarter (i.e. for the month of September in respect of the September quarter survey). For example, jobs which were notified as approved in the month of June and which actually commenced in that month are shown as commencements in the September quarter. Similarly, building jobs which were notified in the month of September and which actually commenced in that month are shown as commencements in the December quarter.

8 From the September quarter 2002, building activity in the External Territories of Australia is included in these statistics. Jervis Bay is included in New South Wales, while Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands are included in Western Australia.

Treatment of GST

9 Statistics on the value of building work (current prices) show residential building on a GST inclusive basis and non-residential building on a GST exclusive basis. This approach is consistent with that adopted in the Australian National Accounts which is based on the conceptual framework described in the 2008 edition of the international statistical standard System of National Accounts (SNA08).

10 SNA08 requires value added taxes (VAT), such as the GST, to be recorded on a net basis where:

  1. both outputs of goods and services and imports are valued excluding invoiced VAT
  2. purchases of goods and services are recorded including non-deductible VAT.


11 Under the net system, VAT is recorded as being payable by purchasers, not sellers, and then only by those purchasers who are not able to deduct it. Almost all VAT is therefore recorded in the SNA08 as being paid on final uses - mainly on household consumption. Small amounts of VAT, may however, be paid by businesses in respect of certain kinds of purchases on which VAT may not be deductible.

12 Within building activity statistics, purchasers of residential structures are unable to deduct GST from the purchase price. For non-residential structures, the reverse is true. While the ABS collects all building activity data on a GST inclusive basis, it publishes value data inclusive of GST in respect of residential construction and exclusive of GST in respect of non-residential construction.

13 It is appropriate to add the residential and non-residential components to derive total building activity. Valuation of the components of the total is consistent, since, for both components, the value data is recorded inclusive of non-deductible GST paid by the purchaser. As such, total building activity includes the non-deductible GST payable on residential building.

Classification

14 Ownership. The ownership of a building is classified as either private sector or public sector, according to the sector of the intended owner of the completed building as evident at the time of approval. Residential buildings being constructed by private sector builders under government housing authority schemes whereby the authority has contracted, or intends to contract, to purchase the buildings on or before completion, are classified as public sector.

15 Functional classification of buildings. A building is classified according to its intended major function. Hence a building which is ancillary to other buildings, or forms a part of a group of related buildings, is classified to the function of the building and not to the function of the group as a whole. An example of this can be seen in the treatment of building work approved for a factory complex. In this case, a detached administration building would be classified to Offices, a detached cafeteria building to Retail/wholesale trade, while factory buildings would be classified to Factories. An exception to this rule is the treatment of group accommodation buildings where, for example, a student accommodation building on a university campus would be classified to Educational. The categories included under type of building classifications are defined in the Glossary.

16 In the case of a large multi-function building which, at the time of approval, is intended to have more than one purpose (e.g. a hotel/shops/residential apartments project), the ABS endeavours to split the details according to each main function. Where this is not possible because separate details cannot be obtained, the building is classified to the predominant function of the building on the basis of the function which represents the highest proportion of the total value of the project.

17 Building jobs are classified both by the Type of Building (e.g. 'house', 'factory') and by the Type of Work involved (e.g. 'new', 'alterations and additions' and 'conversions, etc.'). These classifications are used in conjunction with each other and are defined in the Glossary.

Reliability of estimates

18 Since the estimates for building activity (including alterations and additions) are based on a sample of approved building jobs, they are subject to sampling error; that is, they may differ from the figures that would have been obtained if information for all approved jobs for the relevant period had been included in the survey. One measure of the likely difference is given by the standard error (SE), which indicates the extent to which an estimate might have varied by chance because only a sample of approved jobs was included. There are about two chances in three that a sample estimate will differ by less than one SE from the figure that would have been obtained if all approved jobs had been included, and about nineteen chances in twenty that the difference will be less than two SEs. Another measure of sampling variability is the relative standard error (RSE), which is obtained by expressing the SE as a percentage of the estimate to which it refers. The RSEs of estimates provide an indication of the percentage errors likely to have occurred due to sampling, and are shown in Data Cubes (see Data downloads section).

19 An example of the use of RSEs is as follows. Assume that the estimate of the number of new private sector houses commenced during the latest quarter is 30,000 (for actual estimate see electronic table 33) and that the associated RSE is 1.5% (for actual percentage see the datacube for Relative standard errors; dwellings by sector, stage and type of construction, State and Australia). There would then be about two chances in three that the number which would have been obtained if information had been collected about all approved private sector house jobs would have been within the range 29,550 to 30,450 (1.5% of 30,000 is 450) and about nineteen chances in twenty that the number would have been within the range 29,100 to 30,900.

20 Estimates that have an estimated relative standard error between 10% and 25% are annotated with the symbol ‘^’. These estimates should be used with caution as they are subject to sampling variability too high for some purposes. Estimates with an RSE between 25% and 50% are annotated with the symbol ‘*’ indicating that the estimate should be used with caution as it is subject to sampling variability too high for most practical purposes. Estimates with an RSE greater than 50% are annotated with the symbol ‘**’ indicating that the sampling variability causes the estimates to be considered too unreliable for general use.

21 The imprecision due to sampling variability, which is measured by the RSE, should not be confused with inaccuracies that may occur because of inadequacies in the source of building approval information, imperfections in reporting by respondents, and errors made in the coding and processing of data. Inaccuracies of this kind are referred to as non-sampling error, and may occur in any enumeration whether it be a full count or only a sample. Every effort is made to reduce the non-sampling error to a minimum by the careful design of questionnaires, efforts to obtain responses for all selected jobs, and efficient operating procedures. Some non-sampling error is introduced by the estimation process for smaller jobs (see paragraph 3). The impact of this component of error has been estimated and included in the RSE measures presented in this publication.

Seasonal adjustment

22 Seasonally adjusted building statistics are shown in electronic tables 6, 8, 10-11, 36, 39-74, 76-80. In the seasonally adjusted series, account has been taken of normal seasonal factors such as the effect of movement in the date of Easter which may, in successive years, affect figures for different quarters.

23 Since seasonally adjusted statistics reflect both irregular and trend movements, an upward or downward movement in a seasonally adjusted series does not necessarily indicate a change of trend. Particular care should therefore be taken in interpreting individual quarter-to-quarter movements. Some of the component series shown have been seasonally adjusted independently. As a consequence, while the unadjusted components in the original series shown add to the totals, the adjusted components may not add to the adjusted totals. (For example, the sum of the adjusted state series - for both work done and number of dwelling unit commencements - may not add to the adjusted Australian total). Therefore, figures should not be derived using the adjusted totals.

24 From the June quarter 2003, the seasonally adjusted estimates are produced by the concurrent seasonal adjustment method which takes account of the latest available original estimates. The concurrent method improves the estimation of seasonal factors and, therefore, the seasonally adjusted and trend estimates for the current and previous quarters.

25 A more detailed review of concurrent seasonal factors will be conducted annually, generally prior to the release of data for the December quarter.

26 The revision properties of the seasonally adjusted and trend estimates have been improved by the use of autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) modelling. ARIMA modelling relies on the characteristics of the series being analysed to project future period data. The ARIMA model is assessed as part of the annual reanalysis. For more information on the details of ARIMA modelling see feature article: Use of ARIMA modelling to reduce revisions in the October 2004 issue of Australian Economic Indicators (cat. no. 1350.0).

27 As a general rule, caution should be exercised in using the seasonally adjusted series for dwelling unit commencements in Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory. The small numbers and volatile nature of these data makes reliable estimation of the seasonal pattern very difficult.

Trend estimates

28 Seasonally adjusted series can be smoothed to reduce the impact of the irregular component in the adjusted series. This smoothed seasonally adjusted series is called a trend estimate.

29 The trend estimates are derived by applying a 7-term Henderson moving average to the seasonally adjusted series. The 7-term Henderson average (like all Henderson averages) is symmetric but, as the end of a time series is approached, asymmetric forms of the average are applied. Unlike weights of the standard 7-term Henderson moving average, the weights employed here have been tailored to suit the particular characteristics of individual series.

30 While the smoothing technique described in paragraphs 28 and 29 enables trend estimates to be produced for recent quarters, it does result in revisions to the estimates for the most recent three quarters as additional observations become available. There may also be revisions because of changes in the original data. For further information, see Information Paper: A Guide to Interpreting Time Series - Monitoring Trends (cat. no. 1349.0).

Chain volume measures

31 Chain volume estimates of the value of commencements and work done are presented in original, seasonally adjusted and trend terms for Australia and for each state and territory.

32 While current price estimates of the value of commencements and work done reflect both price and volume changes, chain volume estimates measure changes in value after the direct effects of price changes have been eliminated and therefore only reflect volume changes. The direct impact of the GST is a price change, and hence is removed from chain volume estimates. The deflators used to revalue the current price estimates in this publication are derived from the same price data underlying the deflators compiled for the dwellings and new other building components of the national accounts aggregate ‘Gross fixed capital formation’.

33 The chain volume measures of commencements and work done appearing in this publication are annually reweighted chain Laspeyres indexes referenced to current price values in a chosen reference year. The reference year is updated annually in the September quarter publication. Each year’s data in the value of commencements and work done series are based on the prices of the previous year, except for the quarters of the latest incomplete year which are based upon the current reference year. Comparability with previous years is achieved by linking (or chaining) the series together to form a continuous time series.

34 Chain volume measures do not, in general, sum exactly to the total value of the components. Further information on the nature and concepts of chain volume measures is contained in Information Paper: Australian National Accounts, Introduction of Chain Volume and Price Indexes (cat. no. 5248.0).

35 The factors used to seasonally adjust the chain volume series are identical to those used to adjust the corresponding current price series.

Acknowledgment

36 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated: without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

Related products

37 Users may also wish to refer to the following publications:

Construction Work Done, Australia, Preliminary (cat. no. 8755.0)
Building Approvals, Australia (cat. no. 8731.0)
Engineering Construction Activity, Australia (cat. no. 8762.0)
Residential Property Price Indexes: Eight Capital Cities (cat. no. 6416.0)
Housing Finance, Australia (cat. no. 5609.0)
Private Sector Construction Industry, Australia (cat. no. 8772.0)
Producer Price Indexes, Australia (cat. no. 6427.0)

ABS data available on request

38 As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Inquiries should be made to 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.

Appendix - list of electronic tables

Show all

Electronic tables

Note: not all series in the table go back to the earliest start date.

Time series spreadsheets

Columns from sheetElectronic table no.Start Date
Value of building work done and commenced, Australia and states and territories, chain volume measures
Value of Building Work Done by Sector, Australia
1
September 1974
Value of Building Work Done by Sector, States and Territories
2
September 1974
Value of Residential Building Work Done by Sector, Australia
3
September 1974
Value of Residential Building Work Done, States and Territories
4
September 1974
Value of Building Work Commenced by Sector, Australia
5
September 1969
Value of Building Work Commenced by Sector, States and Territories
6
September 1969
Value of Residential Building Work Commenced by Sector, Australia
7
September 1969
Value of Residential Building Work Commenced, States and Territories
8
September 1969
Value of Building Work Done, States and Territories
9
September 1974
Value of Building Work Done, States and Territories: Original
10
September 1974
Value of Building Work Commenced, States and Territories: Original
11
September 1969
Value of building work done and commenced, Australia and states and territories, current prices
Value of Building Work Done by Sector, Australia
12
March 1957
Value of Building Work Done by Sector, New South Wales
13
September 1958
Value of Building Work Done by Sector, Victoria
14
September 1958
Value of Building Work Done by Sector, Queensland
15
September 1958
Value of Building Work Done by Sector, South Australia
16
September 1958
Value of Building Work Done by Sector, Western Australia
17
September 1958
Value of Building Work Done by Sector, Tasmania
18
September 1958
Value of Building Work Done by Sector, Northern Territory
19
September 1974
Value of Building Work Done by Sector, Australian Capital Territory
20
September 1974
Value of Residential Building Work Done by Sector, Australia
21
March 1957
Value of Residential Building Work Done by Sector, New South Wales
22
March 1961
Value of Residential Building Work Done by Sector, Victoria
23
September 1974
Value of Residential Building Work Done by Sector, Queensland
24
September 1974
Value of Residential Building Work Done by Sector, South Australia
25
September 1974
Value of Residential Building Work Done by Sector, Western Australia
26
September 1974
Value of Residential Building Work Done by Sector, Tasmania
27
September 1974
Value of Residential Building Work Done by Sector, Northern Territory
28
September 1974
Value of Residential Building Work Done by Sector, Australian Capital Territory
29
September 1974
Value of Building Work Commenced by Sector, Australia
30
March 1955
Value of Residential Building Work Commenced by Sector, Australia
31
March 1955
Value of Total Building Work Done, States and Territories
32
March 1957
Number of dwelling unit commencements and completions, by sector, Australia and states and territories
Number of Dwelling Unit Commencements by Sector, Australia
33
September 1955
Number of Dwelling Unit Commencements by Sector, Australia and States and Territories.
34
March 1957
Number of Dwelling Unit Commencements States and Territories.
35
September 1980
Number of Dwelling Unit Commencements by Sector, Australia and States and Territories: Original
36
September 1955
Number of Dwelling Unit Completions by Sector, Australia
37
March 1955
Number of Dwelling Unit Completions by Sector, States and Territories.
38
March 1957
Number of Dwelling Unit Completions by Sector, States and Territories: Original
39
March 1955
Value of building work done, under construction and yet to be done, by sector, Australia and states and territories
Value of Building Work by Sector, Australia: Original
40
March 1955
Value of Building Work by Sector, New South Wales: Original
41
September 1958
Value of Building Work by Sector, Victoria: Original
42
September 1958
Value of Building Work by Sector, Queensland: Original
43
September 1958
Value of Building Work by Sector, South Australia: Original
44
September 1958
Value of Building Work by Sector, Western Australia: Original
45
September 1958
Value of Building Work by Sector, Tasmania: Original
46
September 1958
Value of Building Work by Sector, Northern Territory: Original
47
September 1969
Value of Building Work by Sector, Australian Capital Territory: Original
48
September 1969
Value of Building Work Under Construction, by sector, States and Territories: Original
49
September 1960
Value of Building Work Yet to be Done, by Sector, States and Territories: Original
50
June 1984
Value of non-residential building work done and commenced, by sector, Australia and states and territories
Value of Non-residential Building Work Done, by Sector, Australia: Original
51
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Done, by Sector, New South Wales: Original
52
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Done, by Sector, Victoria: Original
53
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Done, by Sector, Queensland: Original
54
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Done, by Sector, South Australia: Original
55
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Done, by Sector, Western Australia: Original
56
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Done, by Sector, Tasmania: Original
57
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Done, by Sector, Northern Territory: Original
58
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Done, by Sector, Australian Capital Territory: Original
59
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Commenced, by Sector, Australia: Original
60
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Commenced, by Sector, New South Wales: Original
61
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Commenced, by Sector, Victoria: Original
62
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Commenced, by Sector, Queensland: Original
63
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Commenced, by Sector, South Australia: Original
64
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Commenced, by Sector, Western Australia: Original
65
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Commenced, by Sector, Tasmania: Original
66
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Commenced, by Sector, Northern Territory: Original
67
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Commenced, by Sector, Australian Capital Territory: Original
68
September 2001
Value of non-residential building work under construction, completed and yet to be done, by sector, Australia and states and territories
Value of Non-residential Building Work Under Construction, by sector, Australia: Original
69
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Under Construction, by sector, States and Territories: Original
70
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Completed, by sector, Australia: Original
71
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Completed, by sector, States and Territories: Original
72
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Yet to be Done, by Sector, Australia: Original
73
September 2001
Value of Non-residential Building Work Yet to be Done, by Sector, States and Territories: Original
74
September 2001
Value of Building Work Completed by sector, Australia
75
September 1960
Number of dwelling units under construction, by sector, Australia and states and territories
Number of Dwelling Units Under Construction, by Sector, Australia: Original
76
September 1960
Number of Dwelling Units Under Construction, by Sector, States and Territories: Original
77
March 1957
Value of building work in pipeline and Number of dwelling units Approved but not yet Commenced, Australia and states and territories
Value of Work in Pipeline, Current Prices, Original, Australia
78
June 2003
Value of Work in Pipeline, States and Territories, Current Prices, Original
79
June 2003
Number of Dwellings Approved but Not Yet Commenced at End of Quarter, States and Territories; Original
80
June 2003

Data cubes

 Format
Building Activity ASGS Load Data - RSEs; Current Prices, Level, Relative Standard Errors: Original
Excel
Relative Standard Errors, Dwellings by Sector, Stage and Type of Construction: State and Australia
Excel
Relative Standard Errors, Non-Residential Building by Sector and Stage of Construction, State and Australia
Excel
Relative Standard Errors, Value of Work in Pipeline: State and Australia
Excel
Building Activity: Data Items Available by Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS)
Excel
Building Activity: Validation Table for Data cube
Excel
Building Activity: Original
Excel

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. The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to us.

Glossary

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Accommodation

Buildings primarily providing short-term or temporary accommodation, and includes the following categories:

  • Self-contained, short term apartments (e.g. serviced apartments)
  • Hotels (predominantly accommodation), motels, boarding houses, cabins
  • Other short term accommodation n.e.c. (e.g. migrant hostels, youth hostels, lodges).
     

Aged care facilities

Building used in the provision or support of aged care facilities, excluding dwellings (e.g. retirement villages). Includes aged care facilities with and without medical care.

Agriculture/aquaculture

Buildings housing, or associated with, agriculture and aquaculture activities, including bulk storage of produce (e.g. shearing shed, grain silo, shearers’ quarters).

Alterations and additions

Refer to Type of Work.

Alterations & additions to residential buildings

Alterations and additions carried out on existing residential buildings, which may result in the creation of new dwelling units. See also 'Conversions, etc.' below.

Building

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, to satisfy its intended use, is the provision for regular access by persons.

Commenced

A building is commenced when the first physical building activity has been performed on site in the form of materials fixed in place and/or labour expended (this includes site preparation but excludes delivery of building materials, the drawing of plans and specifications and the construction of non-building infrastructures, such as roads).

Commercial

Buildings primarily occupied with or engaged in commercial trade or work intended for commercial trade, including buildings used primarily in wholesale and retail trades, office and transport activities.

Completed

A building is completed when building activity has progressed to the stage where the building can fulfil its intended function.

Completion value

The value of a building job including site preparation costs but excluding the value of land and landscaping. This may be an actual value (for completed work), or an anticipated value (for work yet to be completed). It is intended to be the final contract price or market value of the job when completed, or the best estimate of this quantity available.

Conversions, etc.

Refer to Type of Work.

Dwelling unit

A dwelling unit is a self-contained suite of rooms, including cooking and bathing facilities and intended for long-term residential use. Units (whether self-contained or not) within buildings offering institutional care, such as hospitals, or temporary accommodation such as motels, hostels and holiday apartments, are not defined as dwelling units. The value of units of this type is included in the appropriate category of non-residential building.

Educational

Buildings used in the provision or support of educational services, including group accommodation buildings (e.g. classrooms, school canteens, dormitories).

Entertainment and recreation

Buildings used in the provision of entertainment and recreational facilities or services (e.g. libraries, museums, casinos, sporting facilities).

Factories

Buildings housing, or associated with, production and assembly processes of intermediate and final goods.

Health

Buildings used in the provision of non-aged care medical services (e.g. nurses quarters, laboratories, clinics).

House

Refer to Type of Building.

Industrial

Buildings used for warehousing and the production and assembly activities of industrial establishments, including factories and plants.

New

Refer to Type of Work.

Non-residential building

Refer to Type of Building.

Number of dwelling unit commencements and completions

A residential building job may result in the creation of one or more dwellings. Multiple dwelling unit jobs can be buildings (such as apartment blocks) which contain several dwelling units, or a group of single dwellings (such as a project to build multiple houses to a subdivision). When a job commences all associated dwelling units are considered to have commenced in these statistics. Similarly, all dwelling units created by a job are considered to have completed when the job is completed. Progress on individual dwelling units are not tracked.

Offices

Buildings primarily used in the provision of professional services or public administration (e.g. offices, insurance or finance buildings).

Other residential building

Refer to Type of Building.

Religious

Buildings used for or associated with worship, or in support of programs sponsored by religious bodies (e.g. church, temple, church hall, dormitories).

Residential building

Refer to Type of Building.

Retail/wholesale trade

Buildings primarily used in the sale of goods to intermediate and end users.

Transport

Buildings primarily used in the provision of transport services, and includes the following categories:

  • Passenger transport buildings (e.g. passenger terminals)
  • Non-passenger transport buildings (e.g. freight terminals)
  • Commercial car parks (excluded are those built as part of, and intended to service, other distinct building developments)
  • Other transport buildings n.e.c.
     

Type of building

Building's are classified as either:

  • Residential building

    A residential building is a building consisting predominantly of one or more dwelling units. Residential buildings can be either houses or other residential buildings.
     
    • A house is a detached building predominantly used for long-term residential purposes and consisting of only one dwelling unit. Thus, detached 'granny flats' and detached dwelling units (such as caretakers' residences) associated with non-residential buildings are defined as houses for the purpose of these statistics.
    • An other residential building is a building other than a house primarily used for long-term residential purposes and which contains (or has attached to it) more than one dwelling unit (e.g. includes blocks of flats, home units, attached townhouses, semi detached houses, maisonettes, duplexes, apartment buildings, etc.).
       
  • Non-residential building

    A non-residential building is primarily intended for purposes other than long term residential purposes. Note that, on occasions, one or more dwelling units may be created through non-residential building activity and are included 'Dwellings excluding New Residential' columns in electronic tables 36, 39 and 77. However, the value of these dwelling units cannot be separated out from that of the non-residential building which they are part of, therefore the value associated with these remain in the appropriate non-residential category.

    Non-residential building's are further classified by their functional use at time of approval.
     

Type of work

The Type of Work classification refers to building activity approved to be carried out and consists of:

  • Alterations and additions 

    Building activity carried out on existing buildings. Includes alterations and additions to floor area, the structural design of a building, affixing rigid components which are integral to the functioning of the building and the conversion of non-residential buildings to residential buildings.
     
  • New

    Building activity which will result in the creation of a building which previously did not exist.
     

Under construction

A building is regarded as being under construction at the end of a period if it has been commenced but has not been completed, and work on it has not been abandoned.

Value of building commenced or under construction

The anticipated completion value for jobs which started during the quarter (commenced), or which were under construction at the end of the quarter.

Value of building completed

The total completion value of jobs which completed in the quarter.

Value of building work done during the period

The estimated value of building work carried out during the quarter.

Value of building work yet to be done

The difference between the anticipated completion value and the estimated value of work done on jobs up to the end of the period for jobs under construction at the end of the period.

Warehouses

Buildings primarily used for storage of goods, excluding produce storage.

Quality declaration - summary

Institutional environment

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.

Relevance

The Building Activity Survey is an activity based collection designed to measure the value of all construction work undertaken on buildings in Australia (including External Territories) and provide estimates by state and sector (public and private).

Building Activity includes construction of new buildings and alterations and additions to existing buildings. It does not include construction activities not defined as 'building' i.e. construction of roads, bridges, railways, earthworks etc. For non-building construction see Engineering Construction Activity, Australia (cat. no. 8762.0).

The main output from the survey is the value of work done for private or public sector according to the expected ownership of the building on completion and classified according to its intended major function. The value collected excludes the cost of land and normal repair and maintenance.

Data is collected from builders, other organisations and individuals engaged in building activity. Building jobs included each quarter comprise selected jobs which have not been completed in the previous quarter and newly selected jobs from approved building jobs notified to the ABS Building Approvals, Australia (cat. no. 8731.0) collection during the 3 months up to, but not including, the last month of the reference quarter.

Timeliness

BACS is a quarterly survey run with reference periods ending on March, June, September and December each year. Data is published in Building Activity, Australia (cat. no. 8752.0) which is released approximately 14 weeks after the end of the reference period.

Accuracy

The sample of building jobs on which data is collected each quarter is between 25,000 and 30,000 depending on the amount of building activity in the economy and the speed at which jobs are completed. The response rate is normally between 90-95% and data is imputed for non-responding units.

Only building jobs valued at $10,000 or more for residential building and $50,000 for non-residential building are included in the survey. Building work not requiring approval from a reporting authority is not in scope of the survey. Consequently small alterations and additions, such as kitchen renovations which do not undertake structural changes to a building are not included in the survey.

There are two principal sources of error in surveys, sampling error and non-sampling error. Non-sampling error arises from inaccuracies in collecting, recording and processing the data. Every effort is made to minimise non-sampling error by the careful design and testing of questionnaires, detailed checking of the reported data and direct follow up with providers where significant errors are detected. At the time of selections there is some undercoverage due to building jobs not notified to Building Approvals in a timely manner by approving authorities. A quarterly coverage exercise is conducted to identify significant building jobs which improves the coverage.

Sampling error occurs when a sample or subset of the population is surveyed rather than the entire population. One measure of the likely difference resulting from not including all of the population in the survey is given by the relative standard error. The relative standard errors for the main published tables are small and therefore the estimates can be used with confidence. However, some estimates of finer breakdown in building type (e.g. Transport, other commercial n.e.c, agricultural/aquacultural, religious) should be used with caution. Further information on the reliability of estimates is available in the Explanatory Notes.

Revisions are made to the survey data as required as a result of new and updated information available from providers. Generally revisions are confined to previous quarter data.

Coherence

BACS has been a quarterly survey since its commencement in the September quarter 1980. There have been various improvements to the collection over time including changes to the Functional Classification of Buildings, the inclusion of owner builders into the collection and the phasing in of modelling for small building jobs.

Comparison with Building Approval data can assist in measuring the flow from approval through to commencement and completion of building jobs. However, some jobs do not proceed after obtaining approval and these are eventually cancelled without ever having made a contribution to any Building Activity data item. The percentage of such jobs can be up to 3%.

Preliminary estimates of the data are available in Construction Work Done, Australia (cat. no. 8755.0) along with preliminary estimates of engineering construction activity data.

Interpretability

Data from the Building Activity Survey along with the value of work done on non-buildings (from the Engineering Construction Survey, Australia (cat. no. 8762.0)) are the major source data which are used to compile the national accounts estimates for private gross fixed capital formation on dwellings, and other buildings and structures in Australia. This provides a complete picture of building and construction activity in Australia, buildings and non-buildings.

Where possible buildings are classified according to their intended major end use function not to the function of the group to which it may be part. For example, an office building which is part of a manufacturing plant would be classified as an 'office' not a 'factory'. Where a building has multipurpose functions, such as retail outlets beneath residential accommodation, the ABS endeavours to report data according to each function. Where this is not possible, the building is classified according to the predominant function based on the total value of the project. Building jobs are also classified by type of work into 'new', 'alterations and additions' and 'conversions' etc. Further information is available in the Explanatory Notes.

Building Activity, Australia (cat. no. 8752.0) contains Explanatory Notes and a Glossary which provide further information about data sources, terminology and other technical aspects of the series.

Accessibility

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. Alternatively, please email client.services@abs.gov.au. The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information you provide to us.

Abbreviations

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$mmillion dollars
ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
ACTAustralian Capital Territory
Aust.Australia
GSTgoods and services tax
n.e.c.not elsewhere classified
NSWNew South Wales
NTNorthern Territory
qtrquarter
QldQueensland
RSErelative standard error
SASouth Australia
SEstandard error
SNASystem of National Accounts
Tas.Tasmania
VATvalue added tax
Vic.Victoria
WAWestern Australia