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Building Approvals, Australia methodology

Reference period
April 2020

Explanatory notes

Introduction

1 This publication presents details of building work approved.

Scope and coverage

2 Statistics of building work approved are compiled from:

  • permits issued by local government authorities and other principal certifying authorities;
  • contracts let or day labour work authorised by commonwealth, state, semi-government and local government authorities; and
  • major building approvals in areas not subject to normal administrative approval e.g. building on remote mine sites.
     

3 The scope of the collection comprises the following:

  • construction of new buildings;
  • alterations and additions to existing buildings;
  • approved non-structural renovation and refurbishment work; and
  • approved installation of integral building fixtures.
     

4 Construction activity not defined as building (e.g. roads, bridges, railways, earthworks, etc.) are excluded. Statistics for this activity can be found in Engineering Construction Activity, Australia (cat. no. 8762.0).

5 The coverage of these statistics has changed over time:

  • From July 1990, the statistics include all approved residential building valued at $10,000 or more and all approved non-residential building valued at $50,000 or more.
  • From July 1988 to June 1990, the statistics include all approved residential building valued at $10,000 or more and all approved non-residential building valued at $30,000 or more.
  • From July 1975 to June 1988, the statistics include all approved residential and non-residential building valued at $10,000 or more.
  • Up to June 1975, the statistics include all approved new building, and alterations and additions involving a structural change or floor area expansion.
     

Rounding and aggregation

6 Estimates in this publication are rounded and this may result in discrepancies between the sums of component items and their totals. Percentage movements are calculated from data at the level of precision presented in this publication i.e. to the nearest integer for 'Number of dwellings' data, and to the nearest $1,000 for 'Value of approval' data.

7 In some series relating to the number of dwellings, there are discrepancies between the sums of component items (state/territory) and their totals (Australia). This affects data in some months from July 1983 to July 1985, where original unit record data is no longer available to correct the aggregation. Where a discrepancy occurs, the state/territory-level data will be more accurate.

Revisions to original data

    8 The information provided to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and included in estimates for any month may be revised or corrected in later months. This can occur as a result of corrections made by a provider of data, the late provision of approval records and, occasionally, by approvals being identified after construction work has commenced. Where revisions or corrections are made to the original data for prior months, the aggregate impact on dwelling approval estimates are provided in the Main Features section under 'REVISIONS THIS MONTH'.

    Value data

    9 Statistics on the value of building work approved are derived by aggregating the estimated ‘value of building work when completed’ as reported on building approval documents provided to local councils or other building approval authorities. Conceptually these value data should exclude the value of land and landscaping but include site preparation costs associated with building activity. These estimates are usually a reliable indicator of the completed value of ‘houses’. However, for other buildings they can differ significantly from the completed value of the building as final costs and contracts have often not been established before council approval is sought and gained.

    10 The ABS generally accepts values provided by approving bodies. Every effort is made to ensure data are provided on a consistent basis, however, there may be instances where value reported does not reflect the building completion value. For example, the reported value for most project homes is the contract price, which may include the cost of site preparation and landscaping. In other cases where a builder is contracted to construct a dwelling based on the owner’s plans, the value may only be the builder’s costs. Some data providers do not use the value on approval documents, instead deriving a value based on floor area and type of structure.

    11 From July 2000, value data includes the Goods and Services Tax (GST) for residential and non-residential building approvals.

    Building job data

    12 In these statistics a 'building job' is a construction project comprising work to one or more buildings. Building jobs data are based on the building approval records within the scope of the collection received each month.

    Ownership

    13 Building ownership is classified as either public or private sector and is based on the sector of the intended owner of the completed building at the time of approval. Residential buildings constructed by private sector builders under government housing authority schemes are classified as public sector when the authority has contracted, or intends to contract, to purchase the building on or before completion.

    Building classifications

    14 Building approvals are classified by Type of Building (e.g. 'residential', 'non-residential') and by Type of Work.

    15 Type of Building is the building's intended predominant function according to the ABS Functional Classification of Buildings 1999 (Revision 2011) (cat. no. 1268.0.55.001).

    • Except where specified in the Functional Classification of Buildings, 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. For example, in the case of a factory complex, 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.
    • For a significant multi-function building which at the time of approval is intended to have more than one purpose (e.g. a hotel/shops/casino project), the ABS endeavours to split the approval 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.
       

    16 Type of Work consists of 'new', 'alterations and additions', and 'conversions'. Conversions are considered to be a special type of alteration, and these jobs have been separately identified as such from the July 1996 reference month, though they have only appeared separately in this publication from the January 1998 issue. Prior to that issue, conversions were published as part of the 'Conversions, etc.' category or included elsewhere within a table.

    Seasonal adjustment and trend estimates

    17 Seasonal adjustment is a means of removing the estimated effects of seasonal and calendar related variation from a series so that the effects of other influences can be more clearly recognised. It does not remove the effect of irregular or other influences (e.g. the approval of large projects or a change in the administrative arrangements of approving authorities).

    18 State/territory series are seasonally adjusted independently of the Australian series. In general, the sum of the state/territory estimates are reconciled to equal the Australian total estimates.

    19 Seasonally adjusted estimates are produced by a seasonal adjustment method which takes account of the latest available original estimates. A detailed review of seasonal factors is conducted annually, generally prior to the release of data for May. The timing of this review may vary and when appropriate will be notified in the 'Data Notes' section of this publication.

    20 The ABS produces trend estimates to best represent the underlying behaviour in a series. Trend estimates are created by smoothing seasonally adjusted series to reduce the impact of the irregular component of the seasonally adjusted series. Abnormally high or low values (outliers) are discounted or excluded from the trend estimates.

    21 Seasonally adjusted and trend estimates may be revised as new periods of data become available. Generally, revisions become smaller over time. Revisions to original data may also lead to revisions to seasonally adjusted and trend estimates.

    22 Care should be exercised when using the seasonally adjusted value of non-residential building jobs at the state level, due to the difficulties in estimating the seasonal pattern for these data series.

    23 Further information on seasonally adjusted and trend estimates can be found in the ABS Information papers Time Series Analysis Frequently Asked Questions (cat. no. 1346.0.55.002) and A Guide to Interpreting Time Series - Monitoring Trends (cat. no. 1349.0).

    Chain volume measures

    24 Chain volume estimates reflect changes in the volume of building work approved after the direct effects of price changes have been eliminated. The chain volume measures appearing in this publication are annually reweighted chain Laspeyres indexes referenced to current price values in a chosen reference year.

    25 Chain volume measures are released quarterly in the April, July, October and January issues. The reference year is updated annually in the October issue.

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

    Geographic classification

    27 Building approvals are classified to the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS), 2016 Edition (cat. no. 1270.0.55.001), effective from July 2011. Data from July 2001 to June 2011 is classified according to the 2011 edition of the ASGS.

    28 From 1 July 2002, approvals in the Territories of Jervis Bay, Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands are included in these statistics. Jervis Bay is included in New South Wales, while Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands are included in Western Australia. This differs to their treatment in the ASGS, where these Territories are included in 'Other Territories'.

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

    Building Activity, Australia (cat. No. 8752.0)

    Construction Work Done, Australia, Preliminary (cat. no. 8755.0)

    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)

    Producer Price Indexes, Australia (cat. no. 6427.0)

    Construction Activity: Chain Volume Measures, Australia (cat. no. 8782.0.65.001)

    ABS data available on request

    30 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

    The following tables are available electronically via the ABS web site.

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

    Dwelling units

     Electronic table no.Start date
    Dwelling units approved, New South Wales
    1
    July 1983
    Dwelling units approved, Victoria
    2
    July 1983
    Dwelling units approved, Queensland
    3
    July 1983
    Dwelling units approved, South Australia
    4
    July 1983
    Dwelling units approved, Western Australia
    5
    July 1983
    Dwelling units approved, all series, Australia
    6
    July 1983
    Total dwelling units approved, state and territories, number
    7
    July 1983
    Private sector houses approved, states and territories
    8
    July 1983
    Dwelling units approved, states and territories, by type
    9
    July 1983
    Dwelling units approved, by Greater Capital City Statistical Areas,Original
    10
    July 2001
    Dwelling units approved, by sector, original, Australia
    11
    January 1956
    Dwelling units approved, by sector, New South Wales
    12
    July 1970
    Dwelling units approved, by sector, Victoria
    13
    July 1970
    Dwelling units approved, by sector, Queensland
    14
    July 1970
    Dwelling units approved, by sector, South Australia
    15
    July 1970
    Dwelling units approved, by sector, Western Australia
    16
    July 1970
    Dwelling units approved, by sector, Tasmania
    17
    July 1970
    Dwelling units approved, by sector, Northern Territory
    18
    July 1970
    Dwelling units approved, by sector, Australian Capital Territory
    19
    July 1970
    Dwelling units approved in new residential buildings, original
    20
    January 1956
    Value of dwelling units approved in new residential buildings, original
    21
    January 1956
    Dwelling units approved in new residential buildings, number and value, New South Wales
    22
    January 1965
    Dwelling units approved in new residential buildings, number and value, Victoria
    23
    January 1956
    Dwelling units approved in new residential buildings, number and value, Queensland
    24
    January 1956
    Dwelling units approved in new residential buildings, number and value, South Australia
    25
    January 1956
    Dwelling units approved in new residential buildings, number and value, Western Australia
    26
    January 1956
    Dwelling units approved in new residential buildings, number and value, Tasmania
    27
    January 1956
    Dwelling units approved in new residential buildings, number and value, Northern Territory
    28
    January 1956
    Dwelling units approved in new residential buildings, number and value, Australian Capital Territory
    29
    January 1965
       

    Value

     Electronic table no.Start date
    Value of building approved, New South Wales
    30
    July 1970
    Value of building approved, Victoria
    31
    July 1970
    Value of building approved, Queensland
    32
    July 1970
    Value of building approved, South Australia
    33
    July 1970
    Value of building approved, Western Australia
    34
    July 1970
    Value of building approved, Tasmania
    35
    July 1970
    Value of building approved, Northern Territory
    36
    July 1970
    Value of building approved, Australian Capital Territory
    37
    July 1970
    Value of building approved, Australia
    38
    January 1956
    Value of total building approved, states and territories
    39
    July 1973
    Value of total residential approved, states and territories
    40
    July 1973
    Value of non-residential building approved, states and territories
    41
    July 1970
    Value of building approved, by sector
    42
    January 1961
    Value of building approved, by sector, New South Wales
    43
    July 1970
    Value of building approved, by sector, Victoria
    44
    July 1970
    Value of building approved, by sector, Queensland
    45
    July 1970
    Value of building approved, by sector, South Australia
    46
    July 1970
    Value of building approved, by sector, Western Australia
    47
    July 1970
    Value of building approved, by sector, Tasmania
    48
    July 1970
    Value of building approved, by sector, Northern Territory
    49
    July 1970
    Value of building approved, by sector, Australian Capital Territory
    50
    July 1970
    Value of non-residential building approved, by sector, Australia
    51
    July 2000
    Value of non-residential building approved, by sector, New South Wales
    52
    July 2000
    Value of non-residential building approved, by sector, Victoria
    53
    July 2000
    Value of non-residential building approved, by sector, Queensland
    54
    July 2000
    Value of non-residential building approved, by sector, South Australia
    55
    July 2000
    Value of non-residential building approved, by sector, Western Australia
    56
    July 2000
    Value of non-residential building approved, by sector, Tasmania
    57
    July 2000
    Value of non-residential building approved, by sector, Northern Territory
    58
    July 2000
    Value of non-residential building approved, by sector, Australian Capital Territory
    59
    July 2000
    Number of non-residential building jobs approved, by value range, New South Wales
    60
    July 2001
    Number of non-residential building jobs approved, by value range, Victoria
    61
    July 2001
    Number of non-residential building jobs approved, by value range, Queensland
    62
    July 2001
    Number of non-residential building jobs approved, by value range, South Australia
    63
    July 2001
    Number of non-residential building jobs approved, by value range, Western Australia
    64
    July 2001
    Number of non-residential building jobs approved, by value range, Tasmania
    65
    July 2001
    Number of non-residential building jobs approved, by value range, Northern Territory
    66
    July 2001
    Number of non-residential building jobs approved, by value range, Australian Capital Territory
    67
    July 2001
    Number of non-residential building jobs approved, by value range, Australia
    68
    July 2001
    Value of non-residential building approved, by value range, New South Wales
    69
    July 2001
    Value of non-residential building approved, by value range, Victoria
    70
    July 2001
    Value of non-residential building approved, by value range, Queensland
    71
    July 2001
    Value of non-residential building approved, by value range, South Australia
    72
    July 2001
    Value of non-residential building approved, by value range, Western Australia
    73
    July 2001
    Value of non-residential building approved, by value range, Tasmania
    74
    July 2001
    Value of non-residential building approved, by value range, Northern Territory
    75
    July 2001
    Value of non-residential building approved, by value range, Australian Capital Territory
    76
    July 2001
    Value of non-residential building approved, by value range, Australia
    77
    July 2001
       

    Chain volume measures

     Electronic table no.Start date
    Value of building approved, chain volume measures, Australia
    78
    September 1970
    Value of building approved, chain volume measures, New South Wales
    79
    September 1985
    Value of building approved, chain volume measures, Victoria
    80
    September 1985
    Value of building approved, chain volume measures, Queensland
    81
    September 1985
    Value of building approved, chain volume measures, South Australia
    82
    September 1985
    Value of building approved, chain volume measures, Western Australia
    83
    September 1985
    Value of building approved, chain volume measures, Tasmania
    84
    September 1985
    Value of building approved, chain volume measures, Northern Territory
    85
    September 1985
    Value of building approved, chain volume measures, Australian Capital Territory
    86
    September 1985
       

    Data cubes

     Format
    Statistical Area 2, New South Wales, 2018-2019 to 2019-2020
    Excel
    Local Government Area, New South Wales, 2018-2019 to 2019-2020
    Excel
    Statistical Area 2, Victoria, 2018-2019 to 2019-2020
    Excel
    Local Government Area, Victoria, 2018-2019 to 2019-2020
    Excel
    Statistical Area 2, Queensland, 2018-2019 to 2019-2020
    Excel
    Local Government Area, Queensland, 2018-2019 to 2019-2020
    Excel
    Statistical Area 2, South Australia, 2018-2019 to 2019-2020
    Excel
    Local Government Area, South Australia, 2018-2019 to 2019-2020
    Excel
    Statistical Area 2, Western Australia, 2018-2019 to 2019-2020
    Excel
    Local Government Area, Western Australia, 2018-2019 to 2019-2020
    Excel
    Statistical Area 2, Tasmania, 2018-2019 to 2019-2020
    Excel
    Local Government Area, Tasmania, 2018-2019 to 2019-2020
    Excel
    Statistical Area 2, Northern Territory, 2018-2019 to 2019-2020
    Excel
    Local Government Area, Northern Territory, 2018-2019 to 2019-2020
    Excel
    Statistical Area 2, Australian Capital Territory, 2018-2019 to 2019-2020
    Excel
    Local Government Area, Australian Capital Territory, 2018-2019 to 2019-2020
    Excel
    Building Approvals, Data Items Available by Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS)
    Excel
    Statistical Area 2, 2018-2019 to 2019-2020
    CSV
    Local Government Area, 2018-2019 to 2019-2020
    CSV

    What If

    Effect of new seasonally adjusted estimates on trend estimates

    Trend revisions

    Recent seasonally adjusted and trend estimates are likely to be revised when original estimates for subsequent months become available. The approximate effect of possible scenarios on trend estimates are presented below. Generally, the greater the volatility of the original series, the larger the size of the revisions to trend estimates. Analysis of the building approval original series has shown that they can be revised substantially. As a result, some months can elapse before turning points in the trend series are reliably identified.

    The graphs and tables which follow present the effect of two possible scenarios on the previous trend estimates: that the May seasonally adjusted estimate is higher than the April estimate by 2.4% for the number of private sector houses approved and 15.2% for private sector dwellings excluding houses approved; and that the May seasonally adjusted estimate is lower than the April estimate by 2.4% for the number of private sector houses approved and 15.2% for private sector dwellings excluding houses approved. These percentages represent the average absolute monthly percentage change for these series over the last ten years.

    Approved private sector houses

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        What if next month's seasonally adjusted estimate:
      Trend as published(1) rises by 2.4% on Apr 2020(2) falls by 2.4% on Apr 2020
      no.% changeno.% changeno.% change
    2019      
     November
    8 464
    0.8
    8 456
    0.7
    8 465
    0.8
     December
    8 557
    1.1
    8 545
    1.0
    8 560
    1.1
    2020      
     January
    8 644
    1.0
    8 639
    1.1
    8 647
    1.0
     February
    8 718
    0.9
    8 728
    1.0
    8 709
    0.7
     March
    8 779
    0.7
    8 817
    1.0
    8 754
    0.5
     April
    8 846
    0.8
    8 907
    1.0
    8 788
    0.4
     

    Approved private sector dwellings excluding houses

    Download


     

        What if next month's seasonally adjusted estimate:
      Trend as published(1) rises by 15.2% on Apr 2020(2) falls by 15.2% on Apr 2020
      no.% changeno.% changeno.% change
    2019      
     November
    5 700
    4.5
    5 695
    4.4
    5 727
    5.0
     December
    5 906
    3.6
    5 902
    3.6
    5 957
    4.0
    2020      
     January
    6 047
    2.4
    6 047
    2.5
    6 074
    2.0
     February
    6 161
    1.9
    6 169
    2.0
    6 096
    0.4
     March
    6 251
    1.5
    6 289
    1.9
    6 048
    -0.8
     April
    6 316
    1.0
    6 395
    1.7
    5 940
    -1.8

    Glossary

    Show all

    Accommodation

    Buildings primarily providing short-term or temporary accommodation on a commercial basis. Includes:

    • Self-contained, short-term apartments (e.g. serviced apartments);
    • Hotels (predominantly accommodation), motels, boarding houses, cabins; and
    • 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 associated with agriculture and aquaculture activities, including bulk storage of produce (e.g. shearing shed, hay shed, shearers’ quarters).

    Alterations and additions

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

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

    Building job

    A building job is a construction project comprising work to one or more buildings.

    Chain volume measures

    Annually-reweighted chain Laspeyres volume indexes referenced to the current price values in a chosen reference year (i.e. the year when the quarterly chain volume measures sum to the current price annual values). Chain Laspeyres volume measures are compiled by linking together (compounding) movements in volumes, calculated using the average prices of the previous financial year, and applying the compounded movements to the current price estimates of the reference year. Quarterly chain volume estimates are benchmarked to annual chain volume estimates, so that the quarterly estimates for a financial year sum to the corresponding annual estimate.

    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.

    Conversion

    Building activity which converts a non-residential building to a residential building (e.g. conversion of a warehouse to residential apartments).

    Dwelling

    A dwelling is a self-contained suite of rooms, including cooking and bathing facilities, intended for long-term residential use. A dwelling may comprise part of a building or the whole of a building. Regardless of whether they are self-contained or not, rooms within buildings offering institutional care (e.g. hospitals) or temporary accommodation (e.g. motels, hostels and holiday apartments) are not defined as dwellings. Such rooms are included in the appropriate category of non-residential building approvals. Dwellings can be created in one of four ways: through new work to create a residential building; through alteration/addition work to an existing residential building; through either new or alteration/addition work on non-residential building; or through conversion of a non-residential building to a residential building.

    Dwellings excluding houses

    Dwellings in other residential buildings and dwellings created in non-residential buildings.

    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.

    Flats, units or apartments

    Dwellings not having their own private grounds and usually sharing a common entrance, foyer or stairwell.

    Health

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

    House

    A detached building primarily used for long term residential purposes consisting of one dwelling unit. Includes detached residences associated with a non-residential building, and kit and transportable homes.

    Industrial

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

    New

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

    Non-residential building

    Buildings primarily intended for purposes other than long term residence.

    Offices

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

    Other residential building

    Buildings other than houses which are primarily used for long-term residential purposes. Other residential buildings includes: semidetached, row or terrace houses or townhouses; and flats, units or apartments.

    Religious

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

    Residential building

    Buildings primarily used for long-term residential purposes. Residential buildings are categorised as houses or other residential buildings.

    Retail/wholesale trade

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

    Semidetached, row or terrace houses, townhouses

    Dwellings having their own private grounds with no other dwellings above or below.

    Total residential building

    Total residential building is comprised of houses and other residential building. It does not include dwellings in non-residential buildings.

    Transport

    Buildings primarily used in the provision of transport services. Includes:

    • 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); and
    • Other transport buildings n.e.c.
       

    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 Approvals collection gathers data on a monthly basis relating to the number and value of residential and non-residential building approvals, from information provided by approving authorities. Data collected are available as part of the normal administrative building approval process, and are generally readily available from the relevant local government or other approving authority.

    The collection is a census of all approved building jobs (above specified value limits) and comprises the following activities:

    • construction of new buildings
    • alterations and additions to existing buildings
    • approved non-structural renovation and refurbishment work
    • approved installation of integral building fixtures.
       

    For the purposes of this collection, 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 is the provision for regular access by persons in order to satisfy its intended use.

    Buildings are classified by ownership, based on the sector (public or private) of the intended owner of the completed building at the time of approval. They are further classified by Type of Building (e.g, "residential", "non-residential") and by Type of Work ("new", "alterations and additions" and "conversions").

    Timeliness

    Building Approvals, Australia (cat. no. 8731.0) is issued monthly and released 4-5 weeks after the reference month. A supplementary release of small area Building Approvals data occurs up to 10 working days after the main publication is released.

    Accuracy

    The Building Approvals collection is a census and hence is not subject to sampling error. However, issues such as coverage of reporting authorities and completeness and timeliness of reporting, as well as the quality of the data reported, do exist.

    Building Approvals data is collected as administrative by-product from local government and other reporting authorities and can be sensitive to changes in legislation and administrative practices which can vary from State to State.

    The introduction of private certification introduced another step in the building approval process. Private certifiers lodge approval details with reporting authorities, who then load them to their systems and report all building approvals in their jurisdiction to the ABS. This extra step can cause a lag in the provision of building approvals to the ABS. This can mean, for some authorities, that complete data for a particular month is not available until the following month.

    Revisions as a result of data collection problems are made to Building Approval estimates. There are a number of reasons for data collection problems such as reporting authorities experiencing problems with their processing systems, reporting incomplete data and not reporting within the correct time frame. In these cases an estimate is included for that month. Overall, revisions are generally confined to the last 12-18 months, depending on their significance.

    Value data reported for houses are generally a reliable indicator of the completed value, but for "other residential buildings" and "non-residential buildings" they can differ significantly from the completed value of the building. This is because final costs and contracts have not been established before council approval is gained.

    Coherence

    Most data are directly comparable over different collection cycles. The original estimates of the number and value of dwelling units approved, in new residential buildings, are available at the Australia level from January 1956.

    The Type of Work classification refers to the building activity carried out: new, alterations and additions, or conversions. Up to and including the December 1997 issue of Building Approvals, Australia (cat. no. 8731.0), conversions were published as part of a category called "Conversions, etc". This category included dwellings created by:

    • alterations and additions to residential buildings,
    • conversion of non-residential buildings to residential buildings (i.e. "conversions"), and
    • construction of non-residential buildings.
       

    From the January 1998 issue onwards, the three components of "conversions, etc" are shown separately in their own right in some tables. However, the corresponding value of the dwellings created as part of the construction of non-residential buildings (the third component above) remains in the value of the appropriate non-residential building category.

    The Value of Approval includes the 10% Goods and Services Tax (GST) from 1/07/2000. However, this is unlikely to have caused a significant one-off impact between June and July because it is likely that values inclusive of GST had been gradually included in the series for the 6 months or more leading up to 1/07/2000. This is because if a building job was not expected to have been completed prior to 1/07/2000, then it was known that the portion not completed would be subject to the GST. For further discussion see the Technical Note "Factors that influence the valuation of building approvals" in the Building Approvals, Australia, Jul 2000 (cat. no. 8731.0).

    The survey has adjusted to increasing current prices by adjusting the size of the approvals that are included in the collection. From July 1990 these statistics include:

    • All approved residential building jobs (new and alterations and additions) valued at $10,000 or more;
    • All approved non-residential building jobs (new and alterations and additions) valued at $50,000 or more.
       

    Interpretability

    The major series estimates for this collection are available in original, seasonally adjusted and trend series. To find out more information on seasonal adjustment and trend estimates please see Timeseries Analysis Frequently Asked Questions or refer to the Explanatory Notes for Building Approvals, Australia (cat no. 8731.0).

    Where it has been identified by a council or other approving authority that approvals submitted from its jurisdiction are on a GST-exclusive basis, the ABS has made adjustments to the data to ensure that values are consistent with other data collected and are inclusive of GST.

    Accessibility

    Building approvals data is administrative by-product data that is available to the general public. However, the data is collected under authority of the Census and Statistics Act, and data published or made available can relate to individual building jobs approved. Information relating to individual approvals can be released under clause 2 (2) (d) of the Statistics Determination 1983.

    Data cubes containing small area information are available from the ABS website. The data cubes are available at the Statistical Local Area level under the ASGC for financial years from 2001-02 to 2011-12. Data cubes at the Statistical Area 2 level of the ASGS are available for financial years from 2011-12 onwards.

    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.

    I-note - data cubes

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    Information about building approvals data cubes

    The files under the data cubes heading contain data for small geographic areas in Excel and CSV (contained within .zip files) formats. Excel files contain data for a financial year whereas CSV files contain data for individual months.

    Please note that Building Approvals data are subject to revision. Data cubes are re-released each month including data for the latest month and revisions to data for previous months.

    CSV files

    Statistical Area 2s: Australia, Year are CSV files containing Statistical Area 2, Statistical Area 3, Statistical Area 4, Greater Capital City Statistical Area and State data for Australia for each month in the relevant year.

    Classifications

    State/TerritoriesStatistical Area (SA), State and Australia
    Reference MonthMonthly (yyyy refers to the financial year)
    Sector of OwnershipPrivate, Public, Total
    Type of BuildingHouses, Other Residential, Residential, Non-residential, Non-house and Total building
    Type of WorkNew, Alterations & additions (incl. conversions and refurbishments), Total work
    Data ItemsValue of approval ($m), Number of dwelling units (no.)


    Local Government Areas: State, Year are CSV files containing Local Government Area and State data for Australia for each month in the relevant year.

    Classifications

    Geographic ClassificationLocal Government Area (LGA), State and Australia
    Reference MonthMonthly (yyyy refers to the financial year)
    Sector of OwnershipPrivate, Public, Total
    Type of BuildingHouses, Other residential, Residential, Non-residential, Total building
    Type of WorkNew, Alterations & additions (incl. conversions and refurbishments), Total work
    Data ItemsValue of approval ($000's), Number of dwelling units (no.), Selected value and dwelling ranges
       

    Previous financial year Statistical Area 2 (SA2) SuperTABLE data cubes

    For SA2 data cubes for financial years 2001-02 to 2010-11 see the January 2014 issue of Building Approvals, Australia (cat.no. 8731.0).
    For SA2 data cubes for financial years 2011-12 to 2014-15 see the January 2017 issue of Building Approvals, Australia (cat.no. 8731.0).
    For SA2 data cubes for financial year 2015-16 see the January 2019 issue of Building Approvals, Australia (cat.no. 8731.0).

     

    Previous financial year Statistical Area 2 (SA2) CSV data cubes

    For SA2 data cubes for financial years 2016-17 to 2017-18 see the January 2020 issue of Building Approvals, Australia (cat.no. 8731.0).

    Excel spreadsheets

    Statistical Area 2s: State, Year are Excel spreadsheets containing Statistical Area 2 data for that state/territory for the relevant year.

    Information available

    Geographic ClassificationStatistical Area 2 (SA2), Statistical Area 3 (SA3), Statistical Area 4 (SA4), Greater Capital City Statistical Area and State
    Time periodTotal year, or year to date for the current financial year
    Data itemsNew houses (number and value)
    New other residential building (number and value)
    Total dwellings (number)
    Alterations and additions to residential buildings (value)
    Total residential building (value)
    Non-residential building (value)
    Total building (value)


    Local Government Areas: State, Year are Excel spreadsheets containing Local Government Area data for that state/territory for the relevant year.

    Information available

    Geographic ClassificationLocal Government Area (LGA) and State
    Time periodTotal year, or year to date for the current financial year
    Data itemsNew houses (number and value)
    New other residential building (number and value) 
    Total dwellings (number)
    Alterations and additions to residential buildings (value)
    Total residential building (value)
    Non-residential building (value)
    Total building (value)
       

    Volatility of Local Government Area and Statistical Area 2 data

    Note that the estimates for small areas vary from month to month and caution should be used in drawing conclusions from monthly movements.

    For further information

    For any queries about the Building Approvals data, please contact the National Information and Referral Service 1300 135 070. The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to us.

    Abbreviations

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    $mmillion dollars
    ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
    ACTAustralian Capital Territory
    ASGCAustralian Standard Geographical Classification
    ASGSAustralian Statistical Geography Standard
    Aust.Australia
    FYTDFinancial Year to Date
    GSTgoods and services tax
    n.e.c.not elsewhere classified
    no.number
    NSWNew South Wales
    NTNorthern Territory
    QldQueensland
    SASouth Australia
    Tas.Tasmania
    Vic.Victoria
    WAWestern Australia