Loan Purpose

Commercial construction remains strong as crane numbers rise

The number of cranes in operation across Australia continues to rise, with a steady increase across the commercial sector. 

The latest Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) Crane Index shows the number of cranes in operation increased for the first time since early 2019. 

In the first quarter of 2022, there were 506 cranes on the Australian skyline, a net increase of 63 over the last six months for residential projects, according to the index.

 Forty-one of these were in Sydney, with gains also seen in Newcastle, Central Coast, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and the southeast Queensland markets of Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. 

Across the commercial sector, crane numbers have risen each period since Q1 2020. While construction has continued throughout the COVID era, completion timelines have increased.

 Ray White Commercial Head of Research Vanessa Rader said office construction has been rising despite tricky conditions for most CBD markets.

 “High-rise office construction has been a major contributor to the rising Crane Index for the non-residential sector, despite woes of rising office vacancies and the work from home model impacting physical office occupation,” Ms Rader said.

 “The standout sector has been mixed-use developments, together with medical and education, adding 32 cranes to the skyline nationally in the last six months.”

 Ms Rader said construction activity all around Australia has been on the rise.

 “Looking at the major cities, we can see that Greater Sydney (including Central Coast and Wollongong) has the greatest number of active cranes at 370. This represents growth of 17 per cent over the last six months, with residential up 19 per cent and non-residential up by 11 per cent,” she said.

 “The bulk of residential cranes are located in Sydney’s east and north with little change in the south and western precincts.

 “In Perth there has been a rapid rise in activity, including 32 per cent more residential cranes active over the last six months, and an 83 per cent growth in non-residential due to increasing education, health as well as office projects.

 “There has been small growth recorded in Brisbane non-residential cranes, up 5 per cent to 46 in the last six months due to the growth in infrastructure and civil projects.”