The ACT's construction sector has slowed dramatically, with lengthening delays in the assessment of development applications being blamed for holding up projects and drying up work.
One Canberra-based concrete and landscaping company said the industry had effectively "ground to a halt", forcing it to contemplate shutting its doors.
New data compiled by ACT Treasury showed the value of construction work in Canberra dropped by 13 per cent in the June quarter - the biggest fall recorded in any jurisdiction.
About $466 million in residential building work was completed in the ACT in that period, down 6.4 per cent from the three months prior.
However, the June 2019 result was up 14 per cent on the same time last year.
The recent declines run parallel to a significant drop in the value of building approvals recorded in the ACT.
Latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed that $2.5 billion worth of building projects were approved in the year to July 2019, down 76 per cent from 12 months earlier.
The Master Builders Association of the ACT has pinned the results on what it has termed the territory's "development approval crisis".
The ACT Planning and Land Authority has been struggling to address a massive backlog in development applications waiting to be assessed.
The average number of days for the authority to assess an application blew out to 124 in June, more than double the time it took a year ago.
Just 23 per cent of applications were processed on-time in July.
The lengthy delays are being felt across the ACT construction industry.
Xcel Civil's Jess Agnew said her concrete and landscaping company been profitable up until this year.
"We've never had quiet periods," Ms Agnew said.
"We've always had quite substantial jobs, now we are doing $20,000 jobs, scratching around to get through the month.
"The planning authority was running like a well-oiled machine for a while. Then all of a sudden, in the past six months, everything has just ground to a halt."
Ms Agnew said delays in the assessment of applications threw out project start dates and time frames, which had a "massive impact" on businesses.
She said if the industry didn't pick up in the coming months, she and her husband would consider shutting the business down.
"If it continues like this, there is honestly no point," she said.
An ACT government spokesman said the territory's construction sector remained robust, buoyed by strong population growth, low unemployment and record-low interest rates.
The spokesman said the decline in construction work in the June quarter was likely due to the completion of light rail's first stage.
He said planning authority had hired six new staff to help clear the development application backlog. Four of those employees started in August, with the other two to commence this month.
The authority were now using a staged assessment process to deal with applications.
The number of applications assessed on time was expected to rise as the backlog was reduced, he said.
He said the backlog was already being cleared, with the authority currently assessing and determining more applications than it was receiving.
Between August 26 and 30, it made a decision on 47 applications, almost double the amount it received.
Master Builders Association of the ACT chief executive Michael Hopkins said the government had been too slow to respond to the "development approval crisis"
Mr Hopkins suggested the government utilise private-sector resources to set up a fast-tracked assessment pathway for "low-value applications".
"Without urgent action by government to correct the crisis in development assessment, investment, jobs and local businesses are at risk," Mr Hopkins said.
ACT Property Council executive director Adina Cirson said small construction companies were arguably suffering the most from the assessment backlog.
"They are most feeling it, because the authority is focusing a lot of its resources on those more complex development applications," Ms Cirson said.
Opposition planning spokesman Mark Parton said assessment delays have far-reaching consequences for construction companies.
"Time is money and if you have to sit on assets, if you have to blow out construction time, if you have to stand down workers because the development application has not been fully assessed, it costs money," Mr Parton said.