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National Construction Code (NCC) | HIA

What is the National Construction Code (NCC)?

The National Construction Code (NCC) sets out the minimum requirements for design and construction of new building work (including in existing buildings), plumbing and drainage across all Australian States and Territories. 

It provides uniform technical standards for the design, construction and performance of all buildings and structures, including these key priorities: 

  • safety (structural safety and fire safety)
  • health
  • amenity
  • accessibility
  • sustainability.

The NCC replaces what was formerly known as the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and also now incorporates the Plumbing Code of Australia.

Who is the NCC for?

The main users of the NCC are:

  • builders
  • construction managers
  • project managers
  • trades people
  • plumbers
  • architects
  • building certifiers/surveyors
  • hydraulic consultants
  • engineers.

Who administers the NCC?

The NCC is a national code adopted by all Australian states and territories. 

However, while the NCC provides a legal framework, it is ultimately the responsibility of the individual states and territories to administer. 

The NCC is the national technical code – the actual laws that reflect the application and administration of the NCC are matters for the states and territories to enforce.

How is the NCC enforced?

Most states and territories delegate enforcement powers to local government or private sector  building certifiers and surveyors. 

These authorities are often the ones who issue: 

  • permits
  • approvals.

They are also charged with determining compliance with the NCC, typically by inspections and audits.

What is the National Construction Code series?

The NCC is divided into three volumes to make it easier for you to find the information you need. The NCC series organises the code according to work type:

Class 2 – 9: commercial, multi-residential, public and industrial buildings and structures

Class 1: residential buildings i.e. houses

Class 10: non-habitable buildings and structures i.e. garages, sheds, carports, etc.

Plumbing and drainage

There is also a Guide to Volume One, which provides helpful examples and clarifies some of the complex NCC provisions.

How do I find State variations to the NCC?

Each of the NCC Volumes contain state and territory additions or variations, however, there are some state and territory additions or variations that exist outside of the NCC.

What are the Governing Requirements of the NCC?

Governing Requirements set out the instructions and rules for how to use and comply with the NCC. They help you understand how to apply the technical requirements of the NCC to your unique situation.

One example is how the NCC addresses building classification:

"The NCC groups buildings and structures by the purpose for which they are designed, constructed or adapted to be used, rather than by the function or use they are put to, assigning each type of building or structure with a classification."

Who produced the National Construction Code?

The NCC is published, maintained and revised by an Australian Government authority, called the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB).

Where can I get a copy of the National Construction Code?

To get a free digital copy of the NCC, go to the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) website and register.

If you prefer, you can also view the recent 2019 changes to the code on our website.

Where can I get a print version of the National Construction Code?

You can purchase a print version of the National Construction Code from the Housing Industry Association (HIA). Buy now.

When does the National Construction Code apply?

The NCC applies to any design and new building work (including in existing buildings), plumbing and drainage work, anywhere in Australia. All work of this type is legally required to meet the minimum regulations described in the code.

When did the National Construction Code start?

The NCC was first established on 1 May 2011.

Prior to the creation of the NCC, building was regulated by the Building Code of Australia (BCA), and had been since 1992. The BCA was the first collection of nationally-consistent building regulations. 

Both the NCC and BCA were previously amended annually, however in 2016 the NCC moved to a three year amendment cycle.

How can I get previous versions of the NCC?

You can find all versions of the NCC on the NCC website.

Simply select the edition or year you are seeking and search for that document.

What are the benefits of the NCC?

The introduction of the NCC has delivered significant benefits in:

  • nationally consistent requirements
  • improving productivity
  • increased flexibility and the ability to use new and innovative materials. 

According to a recent independent report, industry regulatory reforms over the last two decades saw an estimated economic benefit of $1.1 billion.

How do I propose a change to the NCC?

If you have noticed something in Volume One, Two or Three of the NCC that you would like to change, you can submit a formal Proposal for Change on the NCC website. If your proposal conforms to the process guidelines and is deemed to be of merit, it will be considered at the next committee meeting.

How does the NCC work?

The NCC has been designed to ensure buildings perform to a minimum standard. As such, it is a performance-based code. There are two pathways to achieving compliance with the code:

  • Performance Solution
  • The NCC encourages innovation in design, technology and solutions. Your solution to any situation may be unique, as long as it meets the stated performance requirements of the code, as confirmed by the Assessment Methods in the NCC. For more information, read Development of Performance Solutions.

  • Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution
  • This approach uses set methods, materials and components that are deemed to meet the Performance Requirements.

    A combination of Deemed-to-Satisfy and Performance Solutions is also permitted.

    For more information, you can consult A Performance Based Code.

What assessment methods are used for compliance with the NCC?

You can use any combination of four methods to determine if your solution complies with NCC Performance Requirements.

  1. Evidence of Suitability
  2. Requires evidence of compliance

  3. Verification Method
  4. Requires tests, inspections, calculations or other forms of verification

  5. Compare with DTS Provisions
  6. Requires an equal or superior solution to DTS Provisions

  7. Expert Judgement
  8. Requires a person deemed to be an expert at assessing solutions where other assessment methods are unavailable

    For more information on the specificities of these methods, read Compliance with the NCC.

What are Australian Standards?

Australian Standards are a set of  "specifications, procedures and guidelines that aim to ensure products, services, and systems are safe, consistent, and reliable" across Australian industries. 

In relation to the building and construction industries specifically - they offer technical guidance on everything from safe housing design, and sustainability in building construction to timber framing requirements.

The NCC calls up or references Australian Standards and they also then form part of the NCC as a Deemed-to-Satisfy solution (generally).

Who produces Australian Standards?

They are produced by an independent non-profit organisation known as Standards Australia. The comprehensive list of Australian Standards can be found on their website. 

What are the main differences between the NCC and Australian Standards?

There are a number of key differences between the NCC and Australian Standards, many of which boil down to their distinctive relationships with the law. 

While, complying with the NCC is a requirement enforced through law in all Australian jurisdictions, the Australian Standards are not mandatory in the building industry, nor are they legally enforceable in their own right. In fact, they only have legal status when they are referenced in legislation, mandatory codes of practice or when contract documents directly reference them. 

As a result of this, the NCC always takes precedence over Australian Standards from a legal perspective. 

It is also important to note that the NCC is published and maintained by an Australian Government authority, the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) whereas Australian Standards are produced by a non-profit, non-government organisation, Standards Australia.

Is it a common myth that compliance is achieved by following Australian Standards?

Yes. Some people in the construction industry believe their work is wholly compliant if it meets Australian Standards. This is untrue.

Any standards that are not referenced in the NCC – either in whole or in part, and those that are not specified in the contract documents – should have no bearing on the design and/or construction of a building.

Compliance is only achieved by following the requirements and assessment methods described in the NCC.

While looking to the Australian Standards for guidance on industry-related matters is highly recommended - in order to stay on the right side of the law, it is important that you follow the NCC above all else. 

Where can I get advice about the NCC? 

HIA have a national team of technical staff with knowledge and experience in residential building work. The team can provide expert technical advice to members including:  

  • Residential Builders
  • Trade Contractors
  • Building Designers 
  • Building Surveyors and Certifiers 
  • Building Product Manufacturers and Suppliers

We can help you with:

  • Bushfire Regulations
  • Timber Floor Standards
  • Slabs & Footings Standards 
  • Stairs & Balustrades Standards
  • Asbestos Removal Rules 
  • Building Standards & Tolerances 
  • ... and much more!

If you have a question relating to a specific project you’re working on, members can contact us on 1300 650 620. If you’re not yet a member, learn more about our great member benefits and how to join!

 

To find out more about the NCC and the specific regulations it contains, order your own, easy-to-reference hard copy today.

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Find out more about the NCC