Apr 302013

The all new 2013 National Construction Code (NCC) comes into effect from tomorrow – 1 May 2013. Every newly designed building must now comply with this new version.

What is the NCC?

The NCC is an initiative of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) developed to incorporate all on-site construction requirements into a single code. The NCC comprises 3 volumes: Volumes One and Two (the Building Code of Australia – the “BCA”), and Volume Three (the Plumbing Code of Australia – the “PCA”).

  • Volume One pertains primarily to Class 2 to 9 buildings
  • Volume Two pertains primarily to Class 1 and 10 buildings.
  • Volume Three pertains primarily to plumbing and drainage associated with all classes of buildings.

All three volumes are drafted in a performance format allowing a choice of Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions or flexibility to develop Alternative Solutions based on existing or new innovative building, plumbing and drainage products, systems and designs.

The NCC retains the same dual approach to compliance incorporating some degree of flexibility, so that—

  • if compliance is achieved with the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions, then the proposal is deemed to have complied with the relevant volume of the NCC; or
  • if an alternative approach is desired, you have the opportunity to do so but the proposal must meet the Performance Requirements.

By using the performance-based system, the means by which the proposal will achieve compliance must be selected. This will be by either—

  • a deemed-to-satisfy solution;
  • an Alternative Solution; or
  • a mixture of deemed-to-satisfy and Alternative Solutions.

If an Alternative Solution is chosen, an Assessment Method must be chosen which satisfactorily indicates that the Alternative Solution will meet the relevant Performance Requirements. The nature of the Assessment Method will vary depending on the complexity of the Alternative Solution.

We have done many projects where alternative solutions are proposed and have been approved. A BCA compliance consultant will help in this regard.

Pan House, Chatswood

Pan House, Chatswood: one project where alternate solutions benefited the design

What is the biggest change to this BCA?

Without doubt the major change to this new BCA will be the new requirements for windows built above a certain height above the outside ground level and the associated barriers or screens required.

This is a noble attempt to prevent many falls resulting in injury and death. The ability of windows to be opened will be limited to prevent these falls from occurring. How this impacts on BCA ventilation requirements is still to be seen. It is to be noted that this is for bedrooms and childcare centres only at this stage. As always – ensure you gain the best advice possible in this regard to see if your situation requires it.

What other changes are there?

There a host of other changes including

  • accessible requirements into schools and other facilities;
  • braille indicators and door furniture requirements;
  • flood hazard area requirements;
  • footings and slabs construction

Make sure you comply

This is only a short post about the changes, and as such, please consult the NCC in detail. As always, every building must be designed to comply with the provisions of the BCA, and now the NCC. This doesn’t mean existing buildings must be made to comply – there are exceptions. To be sure, ask us and we can help out.


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