Industry News
Fiona Nield

One of the most significant changes we will see this year relates to a whole new look for the National Construction Code. Here is what to expect.

It’s no secret that 2022 will see some of the most significant changes to the National Construction Code (NCC) in over a decade. For Victoria, the proposed changes will have a major influence on the design and build of homes going forward.

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

  • Mandatory accessible housing design features;
  • Increasing energy efficiency standards to 7 stars;
  • 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 reordering of Volume Two;
  • Performance solution changes;

In what could be considered one of the most significant changes, Victoria has committed to implementing both accessibility and energy provisions. However, there is still a great deal of uncertainty as to what both of these will look like when implemented.

HIA has pointed out to the government that there is little detail around how the provisions will be applied to some building types such as houses, townhouses, small allotments and steep blocks to name just a few.

There may be ramifications for the land development industry which may be forced to revisit standard lot configurations, benching of sites, height differences above or below the footpath or otherwise face the prospect of being stuck with unsaleable allotments.

HIA has been pushing for long transitional timeframes for energy and accessibility provisions to enable time to change plans, displays and materials and supplies. But this is yet still to be determined.

Accessibility Provisions

Last year the majority of State Building Ministers voted to incorporate mandatory accessibility requirements into NCC 2022.

The proposed changes which are intended to apply to all new housing including apartments and renovations will require;

  • Step free entrance into the home with a threshold no greater than 5mm
  • 870mm wide entrance doors
  • 1m wide hallways
  • Additional circulation space in bathrooms and toilets
  • Access to at least one step free shower

The decision of Ministers to support the inclusion of mandatory provisions did not take into account the findings of the Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) undertaken to assess the suitability and effectiveness of introducing mandatory requirements.

The RIS concluded that if implemented, the ‘silver level’ elements (the option supported by Ministers) would result in over $6.8 billion dollars of additional construction costs and a negative societal cost of over $4.1 billion dollars. Essentially a negative cost benefit and HIA is of the view these figures are extremely conservative.

Further, the RIS noted that the option supported by the majority of Ministers would have limited future benefit for the majority of people with disabilities who require more than basic spatial improvement in a home to meet their needs.

Additionally, the Minister’s decision sets a precedent to introduce future proposals to amend the NCC in the same way. While much of the debate to date has naturally focused on the costs and technical challenges of incorporating the proposed requirements in a new home, very little discussion has occurred around the potential ramifications for the industry and government to deliver housing diversity on a range of allotment sizes. HIA is putting forward industry’s views at every opportunity.

Energy Provisions

The Victorian Government is also committing to implementing energy efficiency requirement which will see 7 stars introduced as a minimum for new homes in Victoria.

The Government is in the process of preparing their own Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) to determine how Victoria will meet 7 star energy requirements. If the ABCB does not adopt the provisions, the RIS will consider whether the conditions should include increasing the “fabric” of the dwelling and a whole of house energy calculation. HIA has pushed for retaining the 6 star energy requirements, with the whole of house energy calculation which is outlined HIA’s national public comment draft.

“If the ABCB does not adopt the provisions, the RIS will consider whether the conditions should include increasing the “fabric” of the dwelling and a whole of house energy calculation.”

The consultation continues, led by our members who have given their time and expertise to help convey industry’s views.

While much of the debate to date has naturally focused on the costs and technical challenges of incorporating the proposed requirements in a new home…

Restructure of Volume 2

Challenging members will also be a full restructure and renumbering of Volume 2 of the NCC and a new housing standard to replace the deemed-tosatisfy provisions. These will require significant adjustment for members.

HIA has provided input on all of these matters and will continue to work with the Victorian Government to get the best possible outcome for the industry and consumers.

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