By the end of 2019, a housing market slowdown led to a drop in residential construction work that continued into 2020. During 2020, residential house prices had increased despite the coronavirus pandemic. Larger cities including Sydney and Melbourne have struggled with housing affordability issues over the past few years. In terms of new housing supply, a high volume of new home construction was forecasted in the next five years in Sydney. Due to strong population growth, housing demand in Melbourne was also expected to remain high.
In contrast to the residential building market, the value of construction in the non-residential segment has continued to grow. Investment has been focused on schools, hospitals, offices, warehouses, and hotels. The demand for warehouses can be attributed to an increasing number of data centers, and e-commerce growth. Commercial building activity was forecasted to peak in 2020, however this might have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Australia placed among the leading 30 countries according to its quality of infrastructure in 2019. New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland all have major infrastructure projects in the pipeline, covering transport, energy, water, and telecommunications sectors. For these projects, federal and state governments have had to increase infrastructure spending.
In terms of private companies, two of the biggest names in Australia’s construction industry were Lendlease Group and CIMIC Group. Lendlease is a multinational construction, property, and infrastructure company based in Sydney. While Lendlease reported a revenue of over 13.2 billion Australian dollars in the 2020 financial year, its profit had dropped significantly compared to the previous year. At the end of 2019, Lendlease announced the sale of its engineering business to Acciona Infrastructure Asia Pacific. Its engineering business had been behind various large-scale infrastructure projects that were running over-budget and time, which made it difficult to turn a profit.
In 2020, the country’s construction industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 impact. Despite construction classified as an essential service, so most businesses in this industry could still operate, many residential projects were put on hold. Homeowners had become more hesitant to start major projects, with architects similarly reporting widespread project cancellations. The major challenge for the construction industry now is securing new projects in the future. A robust pipeline of engineering and infrastructure projects may be enough to allow the industry to recover, reducing the risk of job losses for those directly and indirectly employed in this industry.