NSW Digitalisation of Construction Report

9 September 2021

The Industry Report on Digitalisation of Design and Construction of Class 2 Buildings in New South Wales was launched in late August, after extensive research conducted by the University of Western Sydney’s Centre for Smart Modern Construction.

Under the direction of the Office of the Building Commissioner, the research team surveyed 542 NSW class 2 (multi-unit) building sector professionals, finding that 57% of builders and 48% of designers are still in a basic stage of digitalisation, dealing largely in PDF document formats.

The report confirms that while increased digitalisation in design was improving quality and standards, the cost of software and licences was a barrier for smaller businesses.

ACA Vice President Agi Sterling said that most small practices simply could not afford the expense of constantly retraining staff on top of the cost of purchasing software for $10,000 to $20,000.

“Software vendors need to be conscious of the capacity of small design and construction companies to be able to pay upfront license costs and provide the wrap-around services to support staff, so that businesses are able to realise the benefits,” Ms Sterling said.

Key Findings

  • Most class 2 builders (57%) and designers (48%) are in a basic stage of digitalisation.
  • It will take about ten years for the industry to reach ‘digital maturity’. This is where the use of Building Information Models (BIM) and Digital Twins is standard.
  • Top drivers of digitalisation:
    – achieving greater accuracy and trustworthiness (70%)
    – improving quality and standards (66%)
    – delivering on time, budget, and quality (61%).
  • Top barriers to digitalisation:
    – the cost of software and licenses (67%)
    – the cost of hardware (57%)
    – inadequate design fees (55%).
  • 80% of the industry is a small business (less than 20 employees).

The Research

NSW Building Commissioner, David Chandler OAM, said the new research would help both policymakers and the industry itself understand the current spread of digital capabilities in construction. “We now have data on the industry’s current state of digital maturity which provides us with a baseline to work from. Regulators need to take industry capability into account when putting in place laws and standards, and understand that the construction industry is driven by small businesses.”

Dean of Engineering at Western Sydney University, Professor Mike Kagioglou, said the study would assist industry to develop its digital capability. “It is always a pleasure when collaboration between academia, industry and government results in high-impact, high-quality research. This influential study has great potential for positive changes in practice,” Professor Kagioglou said.

For more information, download the full report here.