Apartment Building Construction Price Index (ABCPI)

Detailed information for fourth quarter 2008





Record number:


The Apartment Building Construction Price Index (ABCPI) is a quarterly series measuring changes in contractors' selling prices of a representative apartment building.

Data release - February 18, 2009


The Apartment Building Construction Price Index (ABCPI) measures changes in contractors' selling prices of a representative apartment building. The index relates to both general and trade contractors' work and excludes the cost of land, land assembly, design, development and real estate fees.

The ABCPI is of particular use to government agencies undertaking economic analyses and other users that are concerned about the impact of price changes on capital expenditures. Statistics Canada, for example, uses the ABCPI in preparing estimates of the contribution of the construction industry to national expenditure, real output and capital stock. Other uses include the revaluation of expenditure, output and new order figures for construction work, updating previously costed projects, making adjustments to project cost for escalation, forecasting financial requirements for proposed projects and real rates of return on investment.

Reference period: The time period for which the ABCPI equals 100; currently this is the year 2002.

Collection period: Collection occurs over the second and third months of each quarter, i.e. February and March, May and June, August and September, November and December.


  • Construction
  • Construction price indexes
  • Prices and price indexes
  • Residential construction

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The survey universe for the ABCPI consists of those general and trade contractors that are primarily engaged in the construction of apartment buildings in the Census Metropolitan Areas (CMA) of Halifax, Montréal, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and the Ontario part of the Ottawa-Gatineau CMA.

Instrument design

Data are collected by telephone survey using a price report and also by mail-out questionnaire. Both the price report and questionnaire were developed in the early 1980's in collaboration with respondents and industry specialists.


This is a sample survey with a longitudinal design.

Respondents in the ABCPI survey are obtained from a judgmental selection in each CMA surveyed. The target population of the ABCPI consists of those general and trade contractors that are primarily engaged in the construction of apartment buildings. They must be well established and actively bidding and winning a share of the jobs in one of the seven CMA's included in the survey. These are usually members of local associations such as construction or trade associations and have been in the business long enough to be well established and knowledgeable and capable in their pricing. As these respondents are testing the market on virtually a daily basis, it is felt that the responses from the rest of the industry would show very similar price movement.

Data sources

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and derived from other Statistics Canada surveys.

Collection occurs over the second and third months of each quarter, i.e. February and March, May and June, August and September, November and December.

The prices for most of the sample items surveyed for the ABCPI are collected quarterly, usually over a two month period, and primarily through the use of telephone surveys. In an effort to minimise respondent burden, prices are collected less frequently in those cases where price changes occur normally at other intervals (e.g. every six months). The price information collected relates to the quarter in question. The goal is to obtain the average bid price for each sample item for the reference quarter. In order to do so and still remain timely, the ABCPI is derived from bid prices for the 15th of the middle month of the quarter or the nearest prior business day for comparable transactions.

Technical specifications of sample items of construction work-in-place selected from the apartment building model are used in the collecting of the data (e.g. Supply and install glazed ceramic tile 150 x 150 x 3mm thick. Adhesive application to waterproof gypsum board walls in penthouse shower area and as bathtub and shower surround in suites). In addition to the technical specification, the unit of measurement and quantity of the sample item (e.g. 485 m2 of ceramic tile to be installed in apartment building located in a specific CMA) are defined.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Error detection

In the day-to-day collection and processing of the index, great emphasis is placed on the examination and evaluation of prices. Survey staff and quantity surveyors of Statistics Canada knowledgeable of the construction industry watch closely developments in the markets. They review the behaviour of the reported price changes, both to validate them directly and to ensure they are representative of apartment building construction prices movement as a whole. Outliers and incorrect or suspicious prices are identified during the initial data processing and then follow-ups are carried out with the respondents to ensure the appropriate information has been obtained.


Imputation is generally carried out for missing data. In any given pricing period there will be missing data due to the fact that respondents are late reporting. In this situation, an estimate will be made based on the other information or the last reported price would be carried forward in the short term while survey staff and quantity surveyors of Statistics Canada seek clarification from the respondent.



Composite indexes are weighted averages of trade group level indexes. For ABCPI, sample item weights are derived from detailed cost analysis of the structure. The apartment building model sample quantity weights are derived from the specifications of an apartment structure completed in 2004. Weights used at the seven CMA composite level are derived from the Building Permits Survey (Record number 2802).


The price information collected represents what the respondent would bid on a fixed specification and quantity in the real market, where the effective date of pricing is the 15th of the middle month of each quarter. Selling prices include costs for materials, labour, equipment, provincial taxes, and contractors' current overhead and profit and market conditions. Value Added Taxes such as the Federal Goods and Services Tax, the Quebec Sales Tax and Harmonised Sales Tax are excluded. Basically, the prices collected constitute a "competitive" price that would have a reasonable chance of being the low price in an actual bid and therefore, are not typical "list" prices. Union and non-union contractors are surveyed in those areas where both are active in the apartment building construction industry.

Prices for certain materials, labour rates, rental of equipment, municipal charges and sales taxes are obtained from a variety of secondary sources, particularly for the mechanical and electrical trades. These sources include suppliers and distributors, national price books and in-house database information systems such as the Non-residential Building Construction Price Index, (Record number 2317), and the Industrial Product Price Index (Record number 2318), price indicators. Union wage rates used are derived from those published in the Construction Union Wage Rate Index (Record number 2307). Non-union labour rates are not surveyed.

Quality evaluation

Every city is visited every 2 years in order to establish and maintain a good rapport with our sources of information and to ensure obtaining reliable information. Staff conducting surveys are specially qualified and trained to elicit proper response from reporters.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Collected data are converted to price indexes and data are released as such, so that it is not possible to identify the suppliers of raw prices.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

The ABCPI series are subject to a one quarter revision period after publication of a given quarter's data.

Data accuracy

Confidence intervals are not calculated due to the nature of the survey. Trade total and aggregate level indices are felt to be statistically reliable.

The statistical accuracy of the ABCPI depends on price data and weight information. Price data are obtained from a subjective sample survey. The weights used in the model come from an actual cost breakdown of constructing a representative building model at a certain point in time, while at the CMA level, building permit data are used. The price and weight data are subject therefore to their own errors. The quality of the weight data used in the model depends on its timeliness, where in general, the longer a model is kept the less it reflects the current change in input mix and construction technologies. The quality of the city weights is dependent on the underlying quality of the Building Permits Survey, residential and non-residential values by type of structure for Canada and urban centres 10,000 and over.

The accuracy of the price data is determined by the ability to maintain a representative sample and the level of respondent co-operation. In this regard, the sample for the ABCPI is reviewed on a continual basis using all available market information in order to identify and select relevant companies (i.e. those winning bids or contracts and doing work). In addition, the response rate for those companies selected is approximately 95%.

Date modified: