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WA build times nation’s longest 28/01/2014

Recent ABS data confirmed what many Western Australian’s suspected, that building a house in Western Australia takes longer than anywhere else in Australia.

The ABS analysed average dwelling completion times around Australia and found that Western Australia experienced the highest average completion times for new houses, while Queensland and Northern Territory experienced the lowest.

Average residential construction timelines increased by over three months during the property boom (2003 – 2008) and have remained close to that level over the last five years.

Western Australia also trailed the rest of Australia with construction times for townhouses however Victoria recently overtook us as the state with the longest completion rates for that sector.

The study looks at change in five year increments. At the start of the study (the period from 1998-2003) the Western Australian construction times for houses were ahead of New South Wales and Victoria. In the period from 2003 – 2008 average construction times jumped considerably on the back of an overheated market, labour and material shortages.

It would be easy to point to our use of double brick as being the culprit as the framed construction favoured in some other states can be quicker; however that does not answer the fundamental question. What needs to be considered is why we were able to build larger homes in 1998–2003 faster than we can build smaller homes (on average) in 2008-2013?

To be fair, every state has experienced lengthening construction times over the survey period however Western Australia experienced the biggest increase. Timeframes contracted marginally over the past five years which may be attributable to the rise of smaller housing, adequate labour supply and the recent introduction of Private Certification.

Western Australia was the last state to adopt Private Certification which as been operating in the Northern Territory and Victoria for twenty years. After the teething problems with the new Building Act last year the new process is streaming building approvals. UDIA members are concerned however, that some local governments are adding new requirements, eroding the benefits of private certification. It is critically important that no unnecessary steps or additional requirements are added which add to the time and cost of construction.

The reality is that every day costs money in construction, so industry and government need to find out why Western Australia holds the inglorious title of being the slowest state in Australia for building completions – and ensure that we don’t wear that crown in 2018.

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