National Construction Code
The National Construction Code (NCC) provides the minimum necessary requirements for safety and health; amenity and accessibility, and sustainability in the design, construction, performance and livability of new buildings (and new building work in existing buildings) throughout Australia. It is a uniform set of technical provisions for building work and plumbing and drainage installations throughout Australia whilst allowing for variations in climate and geological or geographic conditions.
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 is comprised of the Building Code of Australia (BCA), Volume One and Two; and the Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA), Volume Three.
- NCC Volume One primarily applies to Class 2 to 9 (multi-residential, commercial, industrial and public) buildings and structures.
- NCC Volume Two primarily applies to Class 1 (residential) and 10 (non-habitable) buildings and structures.
- NCC Volume Three applies to plumbing and drainage for all classes of buildings.
Administration of the NCC is the responsibility of the States and Territories under their various building and plumbing Acts and Regulations. State and Territory Acts and Regulations set out the legal framework to support the design and construction of buildings. Regulations and Acts contain amongst other things, the requirements relating to building and occupancy permits, building inspections, and enforcement of the regulations. In most cases, certain powers under these Acts and Regulations have been delegated to either local government authorities or private sector building certifiers, including the power to issue approvals, licences or permits for building work. These administering authorities are responsible for determining whether a building or plumbing work complies with the BCA or PCA in the first instance.
Guide to NCC Volume One
The Guide to Volume One is a non-mandatory publication, which has been developed to assist in interpreting the requirements of Volume One. In addition, Volume Two and Three contain clearly identified non-mandatory explanatory information boxes within the text to assist with interpretation of the requirements.
Consolidated Performance Requirements
The Consolidated Performance Requirements (Consolidated Requirements) has been developed to highlight the mandatory requirements of the NCC, foster a greater understanding of the NCC as a performance-based code and facilitate the increased use of performance-based solutions. Whilst not forming part of the NCC, it is intended to provide a compilation of all NCC Performance Requirements and the supporting General Requirements in a single document. It is guidance in nature.
To assist connecting the NCC Performance Requirements with the relevant Performance and Deemed-to-Satisfy Solutions, we have developed supporting documents ‘Developing a solution using the NCC’ and ‘Developing a Performance Solution’.
Regulatory Reform and National Economic Benefits
The construction sector is a significant industry for Australia and represents the second largest sector of small business in the economy. As a result, constraining cost growth and improving productivity has the potential to deliver significant economic benefits nationally. The building and construction industry has undergone significant regulatory reform over the last twenty years.
A number of these reforms have related to the work of the ABCB, including the:
- creation of a single, nationally consistent BCA, which occurred in 1992;
- move to a performance-based BCA, which occurred in 1996;
- consolidation of building and plumbing regulation, resulting in the NCC in 2011;
- provision of a free online NCC, which first commenced in 2015; and
- reduction in the frequency of NCC changes, from a 1-year to a 3-year amendment cycle, commencing with NCC 2016.
In an effort to ascertain the benefits of a national performance-based construction code the ABCB commissioned the Centre for International Economics (CIE) to quantify the impact of building regulatory reform to date and identify any past, present, or potential barriers that may be preventing the full benefits of reform being realised. The report estimates annual national economic benefit of $1.1billion from the suite of building regulatory reforms introduced through the ABCB over the past twenty years.
Regulated separately, building and plumbing regulation have always been inherently linked, as both set the requirements for the on-site construction of buildings. However, historically building and plumbing have been regulated through separate legislative and administrative arrangements. Since 1994 building has been regulated through State and Territory governments with the BCA as the primary code referenced in all State and Territory building Acts and regulations; while plumbing regulators had not yet agreed (through an IGA) to the adoption of a national code.
In achieving national consistency, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) asked the Business Regulation and Competition Working Group (BRCWG) to investigate the merits of a national code and to report to COAG by July 2008. On 3 July 2008, COAG agreed to the development of an NCC to cover building, plumbing, electrical and telecommunications standards. The first stage was to consolidate the codes for building and plumbing. This was completed with the release of NCC 2011, which was adopted by States and Territories on 1 May 2011.
The Regulation Impact Statement on the proposal for the development of an NCC identified the following potential benefits:
- Improved consistency between building and plumbing regulations;
- Improved framework for regulation of plumbing on a national basis;
- Improved regulatory framework to respond to future policy challenges;
- Improved regulatory conditions for innovation at the national level; and
- Opportunity for administrative reform.