What to expect from the National Construction Code
The NCC 2019 was adopted by all states and territories on 1 May 2019. Coinciding with this updated edition of the NCC is the QBCC’s new Standards and Tolerances Guide 2019.
Some of the key changes are described below:
The most significant change to the NCC since the performance-based code was introduced in 1996, is an estimated 40% of the Code’s Performance Requirements will be quantified either directly or by a NCC Verification Method (VM). This work stems from the Board’s increased and competent use of performance initiative aimed at assisting the reduction of non-compliance caused by poor application of Performance Solutions.
It is intended that the remaining Performance Requirements will be quantified in the same manner for NCC 2022.
The NCC has undergone significant structural change to improve access, awareness and understanding. This includes introducing consistent governing requirements across all three volumes and changes to the format and structure of NCC online. NCC Volume Three has been redrafted consistent with a new information architecture that aims to improve access and readability of the document in a digital environment, as well as in preparation for a consistent volume structure in 2022.
A new non-mandatory Fire Safety VM will be introduced with a delayed adoption date from 1 May 2020. The new VM, which is a voluntary tool under a Performance Solution pathway, provides for a documented process in the design of fire safety Performance Solutions, and is based on the International Fire Engineering Guidelines (IFEG).
Fire sprinklers in Class 2 & 3 buildings
A requirement for fire sprinklers to be installed in apartment buildings and other residential buildings 4 storeys and above and up to 25 metres in effective height will be included in the Deemed-to-Satisfy (DTS) Provisions. This means, anyone using a DTS pathway for compliance for these types of buildings will need to install a fire sprinkler system. As part of these requirements, two new types of fire sprinkler systems have been included, as well as concessions for other fire safety features on account of the additional protection afforded by the fire sprinkler systems.
Bonded Laminate Concession
The ability to use a bonded laminated material, with specified characteristics and controlled fire hazard properties, where a non-combustible material would otherwise be required will remain for NCC 2019. A similar concession has been included for certain sarking-type materials, and some other minor components have been exempted from the requirement to be non-combustible.
The commercial building energy efficiency provisions have undergone their first major overhaul since 2010, consistent with the COAG National Energy Productivity Plan. A package of measures for Volume One focuses on reducing energy consumption by a potential 35%, representing a step-change for commercial buildings. Additionally, new VMs will be introduced to demonstrate compliance with the relevant Performance Requirement by way of NABERS and Green Star.
New heating and cooling load limits for the NatHERS compliance pathway will be introduced for residential buildings.
Energy efficiency provisions for Volume One and Volume Two will have a transition period of 12 months until 1 May 2020 during which either the new NCC 2019 provisions or those from NCC 2016 may be used.
Volume Two Acceptable Construction Practice
Improvements have been made to the provisions of numerous Acceptable Construction Practices (ACPs), and new ACPs are being introduced for earth retaining structures, masonry, and attachment of decks and balconies.
Provisions to reduce the likelihood of risks associated with condensation within buildings will be introduced to help deal with potential health risks and amenity issues.
For NCC Volume Three, in addition to the quantification and readability changes described above, heated water temperature control, cross-connection control and rainwater harvesting and use requirements will be included. Additionally, some sections of Volume Three that were only enacted in a minority of States or Territories, such as on-site wastewater systems, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC), and stormwater, will be relocated to the relevant State or Territory appendix.
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