Industry News
Fiona Nield

The proposed changes to the National Construction Code (NCC) for 2022 were recently released for public comment.

These changes are the largest single amendments to date, both in terms of the volume of changes and scope and impact of the proposed reforms, particularly for houses and lowrise apartments.

If approved, the changes will significantly increase construction costs and require changes to many standard building designs and materials currently used. The HIA has therefore made a detailed submission on behalf of members, highlighting all the issues.

The changes will be made to all the three volumes of the NCC, however, there will be energy efficiency and condensation provisions released in mid-August for comment.

What are some of the major changes?

The proposed changes that will significantly affect all residential buildings including:

  • Mandatory accessible housing design features
  • Internal and external waterproofing changes
  • Fire safety and cladding changes
  • Lead in plumbing products changes
  • Revised masonry, slabs, glazing, steel framing and windows fixing and flashings provisions
  • Complete re-structuring and re-ordering of Volume Two
  • Performance solution changes.

One of the significant changes includes accessible housing provisions

The Federal, State and Territory Building Ministers agreed to include minimum accessibility provisions for houses and apartments in the new amendment based on the “Silver Standard” in the Liveable Housing Design Guidelines (LHDG).

This would require all houses and apartments to include:

  • A step free pathway from boundary to dwelling entrance
  • A minimum width of entrance doors and minimum width of doors on ground/entrance level (i.e. 870 mm doors) and 1.2m x 1.2m landing at entrance door
  • A minimum width of hallways and passageways (i.e. min 1m wide)
  • A toilet located on ground/entrance level and spatial requirements in front of pan
  • Step free and hobless showers and removable screens
  • Reinforced walls to toilets, baths, and shower for future installation of grab rails.

These provisions allow some concessions from the step free entrance path due to site conditions. It will take into consideration sites with insufficient ramping space, grade of site greater than 1 in 14 or sites allowing entry through an attached garage as an alternate to a step free entrance.

If these provisions are supported, significant changes to most houses and apartment designs will need to take effect, including additional cut and fill for sites and changes to standard building materials.

The HIA is currently providing detailed industry feedback to the Victorian Government as they develop their proposals. There are still many implementations and supply chain issues to be resolved before this can be finalised.

Download a copy of the proposed changes here: https://consultation.abcb.gov.au/

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