Mid-rise moving up slowly: latest survey

The third annual survey of mid-rise building projects indicates that timber’s market share remains small, although it is gradually growing. The survey of the 2017-18 year shows that two years after the 2016 amendments to the Building Code of Australia (BCA), mid-rise building projects involving timber are still quite limited in number, despite continuing to grow.

In 2016, after a lengthy and extensive process, FWPA was successful in changing the BCA to permit “fire protected” timber (light weight) and massive timber building systems in the mid-rise space (up to 25m - generally 8 stories).

In the main, this involves light-weight timber construction formats and technologies such as cross-laminated timber (CLT) and other forms of mass-timber construction.

Subsequently, FWPA has sought to measure the market share of timber products within the mid-rise space for class 2, 3 and class 5 buildings:

  • Class 5 Commercial Premises
  • Class 2 Residential (units, apartments, flats, townhouses, villas, student & group accommodation)
  • Class 3 Aged Care, Hospitality, (Hotels, Motels, Backpacker)

The annual surveys to measure uptake focus on the Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra markets. The third annual survey assesses projects that commenced in 2017-18.

The survey found that of 505 relevant projects commenced in 2017-18, two of which were CLT buildings in the 4-8 storey category and one in the 9+ storey category. An additional building not previously identified was also included.

This equates, as the tables below show, to 0.6% of total projects in the 4-8 storey category, amounting to 1.6% of total floor space. The original case for changing the BCA modelled a maximum 5% take-up of massed timber construction technologies in mid-rise buildings. 

4-8 Storey Category: 2017-18 (%)
  Timber Steel Concrete Total
Projects 0.59% 1.39% 98.02% 100%
Floor Area 1.59% 2.61% 95.80% 100%


4-8 Storey Category: 2017-18 (%)
    Timber Steel Concrete Total
Class 2&3  Projects 2 7 466 476
Floor Area (m2) 16,789 35,618 1,092,351 1,144,758
Class 5  Projects 1  -  28 29
Floor Area (m2) 5,000  -  217,432 222,432
Total  Projects 3 7 495 505
Floor Area (m2) 21,789 35,618 1,309,783 1,367,190

Although the latest survey demonstrates there has been only limited uptake of timber used in construction since the BCA changes, it also identifies continued expansion with 9 projects expected to have commenced in 2018-19 period in the target cities.

To access the full report, click here