It’s not something you hear much about in New Zealand, but Australia is currently in the middle of a major apartment boom. The number of dwelling approvals – what we would call building consents here – for attached dwellings is at an all-time high.* 86,000 attached dwellings were approved in the last year – compared with 5,800 in New Zealand.
One of the things I find interesting about this graph is that Australian construction, for all its ups and downs, has actually been fairly stable over time. There’s the odd slowdown, but generally this is a country that has churned out around 160,000 new homes a year for the last 30 years.
Anyway, that’s an aside; on to New Zealand. Here are the equivalent figures for Aotearoa:
It’s not just the number of apartments being built in Australia which is booming; it’s also the proportion of new dwellings that they make up. This is also close to an all-time high, at almost 45% across Australia. That compares to 24% for New Zealand. The graph below shows the percentage of new dwellings which are attached, for both countries:
In Australia, attached dwellings usually made up 20-something percent of all approvals through the 1980s, and 30% to 35% through the 2000s. It’s only in the last few years that the percentage has climbed above 40%.
For New Zealand, the data doesn’t go back as far – and I’m a bit sceptical about its coverage in the early ’90s as well – but in the last twenty years we’ve usually fluctuated between 20% and 30%, dropping a bit lower than that in the post-GFC period.
In the next post, I’ll look at the data for individual cities.
* Technically, the Australian approvals are for “dwellings excluding houses”. That covers apartments, terraces and so on. This is generally similar to the definition used by Statistics New Zealand here, where they use the term “apartments” to refer to “consents that have 10 or more new attached dwellings”. I’ve used customised data from Statistics NZ so as to include all the attached dwellings in the 0-9 dwellings range as well.
This analysis was initially put together for a company newsletter here.