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AS 3959 and the Extended Transition Period in WA

June 23, 2020

Which version of AS 3959 should you be using during the extended transitional period for adoption of NCC 2019 in Western Australia?

This information sheet provides you with guidance on navigating the differing requirements and which versions of the standards and the NCC you should be using.

Background

The Building Regulations 2012 adopt the current version of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) as the applicable building standard in WA.

Typically, a transitional period of 12 months is provided in Western Australia, where both the current BCA and the one in effect 12 months prior can be used.

This transitional period was due to expire on April 30 2020, however, the WA Government extended the transitional provisions for BCA 2016 to 30 April 2021.

An Industry Bulletin - 129 was published in April 2020 advising of this additional transitional period and HIA has published an information sheet on this topic with link provided below.

Simply put - the timeline for adopting BCA 2019 in WA is as follows:

  • 1 July 2020 to 30 April 2021 - an application submitted for building permit may use NCC 2019 Amendment 1, or NCC 2019, or NCC 2016 (Volume One Amendment 1 and Volume Two).
  • 1 May 2021 to 30 June 2021 – an application submitted for building permit may use NCC 2019 Amendment 1, or NCC 2019.
  • 1 July 2021 - an application submitted for building permit must only use NCC 2019 Amendment 1.

How about what version of bushfire standard should I use?

AS 3959 was updated in 2018 and introduced a number of different changes to Section 2, 3, 5, 7 and 8.

BCA 2016 references AS 3959:2009, whereas BCA 2019 (including Amendment 1) references AS 3959:2018.

That means that in Western Australia, under the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions of BCA 2016 it calls up AS 3959:2009 for a Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution, so that is the applicable edition to be using if your building approval is in accordance with BCA 2016, even though AS 3959:2018 is the most recent edition.

The other option includes if the building design approval chooses to uses BCA 2019, including Amendment 1, during the transitional period, it requires the application of AS 3959:2018 as a Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution.

However, if a design proposes to use parts of AS 3959:2018 but the remainder of design of the building is in accordance with BCA 2016, then this would need to be done as part of a Performance Solution.

Further, State Planning Policy 3.7: Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas, along with the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015 identify that a BAL assessment be carried out in accordance with Australian Standard 3959: Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas (AS 3959), as referenced in the BCA.

Further information

HIA has produced a range of information sheets on the National Construction Code and bushfire standard, including an information sheet for a summary of the NCC 2019 changes or the Extended Transition Period, including the Out-of-Cycle amendment.

You can find out more about the 2018 changes to AS 3959 here.

Building and Energy’s Industry Bulletin 131 is also available for viewing.

For more information on WA State Planning Policy 3.7: Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas and the application of the applicable standard click here.

For further clarification or information, HIA members can contact HIA’s Building Services team on 1300 650 620 or by contacting hia_technical@hia.com.au.