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Sydney has topped rankings in Australia for high construction costs climbing four spots since last year.

According to the International Construction Cost Report 2020 from Arcadis, which covers 100 global cities, London was the world’s most expensive city, followed by New York City and Hong Kong.

The 10 least expensive cities are in Asia with at least half of those found in China. 

Sydney was the most expensive Australian city at 30, followed by:  Brisbane (38), Melbourne (41) and Perth (50).

According to the report the cost of construction in Australian cities was heavily impacted by the slowing economy and the steady decline in construction work over the last three years, particularly within the residential sector in Sydney and Melbourne. However, this was countered by an increase in demand for non-residential and infrastructure projects in other cities.

Arcadis national director of cost and commercial management, Matthew Mackey, said despite construction levels falling, construction costs have continued to rise in most Australian cities.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on local construction costs is expected to be significant – although it is extremely difficult to predict to what extent and for how long,” he said.

“Unlike the last global downturn, the impact of COVID-19 is not about the availability of cash.  Rather, it is about our inherent ability to physically go to work and maintain cash flow. 

“Therefore, when our economy starts returning to some semblance of normal, there will likely be a spike of ‘super inflation’ in some markets. 

“This spike will be caused by numerous projects either starting or re-starting over a short period due to an abundance of cash but with little immediate resource availability to deliver the work.

“The limited availability of resources at all levels of the supply chain, which has been an almost continuous feature of the Australian market over the last few years, is expected to worsen as job losses continue to hit.”

The annual International Construction Costs Report provides a comparative index of global construction costs.

This year’s report addresses two challenges: the unfolding effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and unchanged need for the industry to focus on rethinking resilience amid climate change while plotting a course towards a carbon neutral future.

Construction processes alone are responsible for nearly 12% of global, energy-related CO2 emissions and heating and cooling buildings is one of the biggest single causes of global warming.

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