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The mere fact that an Australian Standard exists does not mean that there is a legal requirement to use it. Australian Standards have no legal standing in their own right and only obtain legal status when they are referenced in legislation, mandatory codes of practice or when contract documents directly reference them.
Some recent tribunal cases considered similar matters related to this and the findings were that only the applicable Australian Standard referenced in the enacting legislation, including the version (date and/or amendment number) listed in the legislation, had legal status.
It’s also important to note that where an inconsistency occurs between the requirements of an Australia Standard and the enacting legislation that calls up the National Construction Code (NCC) , the requirements of the NCC will take precedence.
Australian Standards are documents pertinent to a particular subject, field or industry. In the building industry they deal with building material specifications, testing criteria and specifications, or simply how to design and/or build construction elements.
Australian Standards are described using the abbreviation AS followed by a number, its year of publication and then its title – for example, AS 3740:2010 Waterproofing of domestic wet areas. This is generally shortened to AS followed by the number, such as AS 3740.
Australian Standards are produced by an organisation known as Standards Australia. Standards Australia is an independent non-profit, non-government organisation that writes and prepares its own publications.
Building legislation in every state and territory makes direct reference to the National Construction Code (NCC), calling it up as the technical standard that new building work must meet.
The NCC is published in three volumes. The BCA is Volumes One and Two of the NCC and the Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA) is Volume Three of the NCC.
It’s important to note that building legislation only refers to the NCC and not to individual Australian Standards. There are other sectors in the building industry where legislation does make direct reference to Australian Standards, such as electrical work or Workplace Health & Safety. This is not the case for building legislation.
Figure 1 depicts the Australian building regulatory framework in relation to Australian Standards and their legal status.
NOTE: This information sheet will address the requirements of the Building Code of Australia, bearing in mind the requirements for the Plumbing Code of Australia are almost identical. The references are related to BCA Volume Two.
A common myth in building in accordance with the BCA is that compliance is achieved by only following an Australian Standard. This misconception is shared by many parties across the industry.
So to break down where and when Australian Standards applies it’s important to understand how compliance with the BCA is achieved.
Compliance with the BCA is achieved by satisfying the Performance Requirements. There are two pathways for a building design to meet those requirements: the use of a Performance Solution or a Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution.
Generally speaking, for a Class 1 and Class 10 building a Performance Solution is the compliance pathway used when a new or innovative material or form of construction is used and is not prescribed in the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions or the design seeks to vary the construction methods offered by the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions.
In the most part the BCA references Australian Standards and other documents such as the National Association of Steel-framed Housing (NASH) as part of the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions and their use forms part of a Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution.
BCA Volume Two (2016) refers to approximately 80 Australian Standards and other documents. A full list of the Australian Standards referenced in Volume Two is at Appendix A.
In referencing the Australian Standards and other documents the BCA is quite precise when specifying the version of any referenced document. New Standards, or amendments to existing Standards are not automatically adopted.
Documents do not become part of the BCA until they have been referenced by the code. Australian Standards and other documents that are not referenced could still be used as part of a Performance Solution to demonstrate compliance with the Performance Requirements.
A few words of caution. Some Australian Standards are referenced by the BCA in their entirety and some are only referenced in part. Where only a part of the Standard is referenced the remainder of the Standard is irrelevant and has no authority.
An example of this is the Weatherproofing Verification Method V2.2.1 in Volume Two [specifically clause (c)(i)(B) and (C)] where it specifically and only refers to clauses 8.5.2 to 8.6.2 of AS/NZS 4284.
Also, important to note is that an Australian Standard may be referenced in its entirety but the BCA may also prescribe requirements in addition to compliance with the Australian Standard including prescribing the context for which the Australian Standard is referenced.
The BCA contains a number of requirements for a window in a Class 1 building. Under the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions it references AS 2047 for the design and construction of a window. Additionally, the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions in 220.127.116.11 contain a concurrent requirement for an openable window in a bedroom which is 2m or more above the surface beneath for it to have restrictions on the openable portion of the window.
It’s also important to note that a window complying with AS 2047 needs to be installed in the right application. For example:
It’s prudent to always review the contract documents to ascertain whether any additional Australian Standards or other documents have been referenced in addition to those prescribed in the BCA. The client or the builder has discretion to include direct references to Australian Standards in the contract, the plans or the specification (which are part of the contact documents). It is essential that you check this.
So, does building work always need to comply with Australian Standards? No.
Standards that are not referenced in the BCA either in whole or in part, and Standards that are not specified in the contract documents should have no bearing on the design and/or construction of a building.
The building plans and specification should clearly identify whether the design is using a Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution or a Performance Solution (and where applicable, an Australia or international Standard) for any part of the building work. It is essential to ensure that the building surveyor/certifier issuing the building approval is aware of which pathway will be used for each element of construction.
It is for this reason that HIA believes unreferenced Australian Standards should have no role in compliance checks or post-occupancy dispute when they arise.
The BCA is now freely available online from the ABCB website.
Structural design actions –
|AS 1170.4||Structural design actions – Earthquake actions in Australia|
|AS 1273||Unplaticizied PVC (UPVC) downpipe and fittings for rainwater|
|AS/NZS 1276.1||Acoustics – Rating of sound insulation in buildings and of building elements: Airborne sound insulation|
|AS 1288||Glass in buildings – Selection and Installation|
|AS 1289 (Method
||Methods of testing soils for engineering purposes – Determination of the penetration resistance of a soil – Perth sand penetrometer test|
|AS 1397||Continuous hot dip metallic coated sheet steel and strip – coatings of zinc and zinc alloyed with aluminium and magnesium|
Methods for fire tests on building materials, components and structures –
|AS/NZS 1530.3||Methods for fire tests on building materials, components and structures – simultaneous determination of ignitability, flame propagation, heat release and smoke release|
|AS 1562.1||Design and installation of sheet roof and wall cladding|
||Design and installation of sheet roof and wall cladding –
|Aluminium structures –
Limit state design
Allowable stress design
|AS 1668.2||The use of ventilation and air conditioning in buildings – Mechanical ventilation in buildings|
|AS 1670.1||Fire detection, warning, control and intercom systems – Systems commission: Fire|
|AS/NZS 1680.0||Interior lighting – Safe movement|
||Residential timber-framed construction –
||Timber structures –
|AS/NZS 1859.4||Reconstituted wood-based panels – Specifications – Wet-processed fibreboard|
||Swimming pool safety –
|AS 2047||Windows and external doors in buildings|
|AS 2049||Roof tiles|
|AS 2050||Installation of roof tiles|
|AS 2159||Piling – Design and installation|
|AS/NZS 2179.1||Specification for rainwater goods, accessories and fasteners – metal shape or sheet rainwater goods and metal accessories and fasteners|
|AS/NZS 2269.0||Plywood – Structural - Specifications|
|AS 2327.1||Composite structures – simply supported beams|
|AS 2870||Residential slabs and footings|
|AS/NZS 2904||Damp-proof courses and flashings|
|AS/NZS 2908.2||Cellulose cement products – flat sheets|
|AS/NZS 2918||Domestic solid fuel burning appliances - Installation|
||Plumbing and drainage
|AS 3600||Concrete structures|
|AS 3700||Masonry structures|
|AS 3740||Waterproofing of domestic wet areas|
|AS 3786||Smoke alarms using scattered light, transmitted light or ionization|
|AS 3959||Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas|
|AS 4055||Wind loads for housing|
|AS 4072.1||Components for the protection of openings in fire-resistant separating elements – service penetrations and control joints|
|AS 4100||Steel structures|
||Pliable building membranes and underlays:
Ductwork for air-handling systems in buildings:
Plastic roof and wall cladding material:
|AS/NZS 4284||Testing of building facades|
|AS/NZS 4505||Garage doors and other large access doors|
|AS 4586||Slip resistance classification of new pedestrian surface materials|
|AS/NZS 4600||Cold-formed steel structures|
||Waterproofing membranes for external above-ground use:
||Masonry for small buildings:
|AS/NZS 4859.1||Materials for the thermal insulation of buildings – General criteria and technical provisions|
|AS 5146.1||Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete – Structures|
|SA TS 101||Design of post-installed and cast-in fastenings for use in concrete|
|ASTM D3018–90||Class A asphalt shingles surfaced with mineral granules|
|ABCB||Protocol for Structural Software, Version 2011.1|
|ABCB||Standard for Construction of Buildings in Flood Hazard Areas, Version 2012.2|
|ISO 717.1||Acoustics – Rating of sound insulation in buildings and of building elements – Airborne sound insulation|
|ISO 8336||Fibre cement flat sheets|
|NASH Standard||Steel Framed Construction in Bushfire Areas|
||Residential and Low-Rise Steel Framing:
|TN 61||Cement Concrete and Aggregates Australia – Articulated walling|
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