The inclusion of the condensation management provisions is in response to growing calls for this issue to be addressed, particularly in houses in Australia’s colder climates. The provisions are intended to be the first of a suite of changes to come in future editions of the code.
It should be noted that the provisions include measures to assist in ‘managing or minimising’ the impact of condensation in buildings, which acknowledges that the issue with condensation is as much about how people use the building as it is about designs and materials used in the construction.
The changes to the Reference Building Verification Method will impact house designs in Western Australia, in particular because this has been a common energy efficiency compliance path used due to the predominant use of cavity masonry construction.
On a positive note, the NCC will reintroduce into the code Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions for masonry veneer construction and improvements to many other parts of Volume Two, resulting from the Australian Building Codes Board’s (ABCB) Acceptable Construction Practice Review project.
HIA welcomes this approach to developing NCC provisions; for many years industry has sought the inclusion of content back into the NCC itself, rather than wholly relying on referenced standards.
Additionally, the new edition will incorporate revised and enhanced BCA product evidentiary requirements for determining a product’s fitness for purpose. This also includes the publishing of an accompanying ABCB product assurance handbook.
The major changes that will affect low- to mid-rise Class 2 buildings include:
- mandatory sprinkler protection for buildings four storeys and above (with offsets);
- the condensation and energy efficiency changes, mentioned above;
- energy efficiency stringency increases for commercial buildings which will affect common areas, shared services of apartments and mixed use buildings (apartments with ground floor cafés and shops).
The energy efficiency stringency increases for commercial buildings will impact a number of HIA members working on mixed use apartment buildings and commercial buildings or product suppliers to those buildings.
Other changes include the ABCB agreeing to retain the bonded laminate materials clause from C1.9(e) – (formerly C1.12) – and permitting certain types of sarking materials that meet prescribed criteria to be used in external walls required to be non-combustible.