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New livable housing provisions for NCC 2022

The ABCB have included the new livable housing provisions in the recently released NCC 2022 changes. Whilst it is still to be confirmed which state and territories will adopt the provisions and when the provisions will take effect. This resource though provides an overview of the livable housing provisions and elements that make up the new provisions.

The National Construction Code (NCC) 2022 release of the Stage 1 changes was recently released and one of the most significant changes includes the new Livable (accessible) housing provisions.

These provisions will apply to all houses (Class 1a) and apartments (Class 2 buildings) and have been included in both Volumes One and Two and the addition of a new referenced ABCB Livable Housing Standard.  

The provisions are based in principle off the silver level of the livable housing design guidelines, though in the ABCB converting the guideline into NCC provisions there has been minor changes to provide more prescriptive requirements, and changes to ensure the provisions don’t contradict or cause inconsistencies with other parts of the NCC.

Core elements of the new provisions

The livable housing provisions will require the following key elements:

  • A step free path of travel from the boundary to the front or entrance door, which can incorporate either an access path or ramps including step ramps. Both must satisfy minimum width gradient requirements
  • A step free level entrance into the dwelling that can incorporate a step ramp or a threshold of a maximum height. A door sill can be used with restrictions on the height profile. A landing is also required at the entrance
  • A minimum of 820 mm clear width of opening for the entrance door and doors to habitable rooms, sanitary compartment and laundry (where located) on that entrance level. The opening must be clear of the door leaf and door stops or rebates, but the door handle can encroach.
  • Level thresholds or a maximum 5mm lip to internal doors that require the minimum 820mm clear width. Internal door thresholds can also incorporate a step ramp.
  • Minimum clear width of corridors connecting doorways that require the minimum clear width opening. Items such as skirting boards and architraves and light switches/GPOs can encroach into the clear width
  • A toilet on the ground or entrance level with minimum width of opposing walls either side of the pan and 1.2m clear space to door swing in front of the pan. The minimum width must be measured between wall linings but skirtings and architraves etc. can encroach 
  • One shower in the dwelling that is step free and hobless. This shower does not have to be located on the ground or entry level and ‘step free’ for the shower means, a maximum 5mm lip or rebate and a shower screen can still be used.
  • Reinforcing to the framing surrounding the toilet, shower and bath, such as nogging or sheeting, to enable future installation of grab rails. There are concessions where there is insufficient space in the room, or an opening encroaches the area to be reinforced.

Each of these elements have detailed provisions that need to be followed that are quite prescriptive in nature and much more involved than they may seem at first glance at a headline level. 

As such careful consideration, understanding and application of the corresponding provisions is critical.

Alternate entrance requirements

For Class 1 buildings, as an alternate to providing a step free access path from the boundary to the front or entrance door, a design can use an entrance door from a connecting garage or carport into the dwelling. The door in this situation would still need to be step free and provide a clear opening of the door of 820mm. 

In this situation it would still mean that the connecting garage/carport slab would need to be set at the same floor height as the house floor level or satisfy the maximum threshold heights for an entrance door.

Additionally the garage/carport in this situation would need to be a minimum of 3.2m wide and 5.4m long.

The step free access requirements of Part 1 of the livable housing standard do not apply to Class 2 buildings and rather there are existing provisions based on the accessibility requirements of NCC Volume One and the Premises Standards, that prescribe the applicable entrance and accessibility requirements to Class 2 buildings. 

Exemptions to step free access path requirements

In recognition that not all sites and house configurations would be able to readily achieve the step free access path requirements of the Part 1 requirements of the Livable Housing Standard, the provisions of Part H8 of Volume Two prescribe a range of exemptions to the step free access  requirements.

These exemptions include:

  • Where the slope of the site exceeds 1 in 14
  • Where the insufficient space between the front boundary and the building i.e. townhouses
  • Where the house would require excessive ramping to achieve compliance
  • Where the building is located in a defined flood hazard area
  • Where the difference in level of habitable rooms would necessitate excessive ramping i.e. Elevated homes, ‘Queenslanders’, garage top dwellings, etc.

The application of these exemptions and who and when these are determined is still being worked through with Governments and HIA will produce a specific resource on these exemptions and some guidelines around them once confirmed.

It is also important to note that these exemptions are only applicable to the step free access  requirements, and even if a house is exempt from the step free access path , all other elements of the Livable Housing Standard would apply to those dwellings. 

State and Territory Adoption, Transition period and Additional Concessions

Whilst the technical NCC provisions for the new ABCB livable housing provisions – has now been settled and has been released. 

However, there’s continued uncertainty on: 

  • which states and territories will and won’t be adopting the provisions 
  • whether there will be further building exemptions and concessions enacted other than those already written into the NCC; and 
  • what transition period will be given for adoption of the provisions? 

At the recent Building Ministers Meeting, Ministers asked the ABCB and senior officials to draft a coordinated transition and implementation plan for NCC 2022. 

Ministers will meet next in July and post that meeting Ministers, it is expected that the confirmation on each of the above matters regarding adoption, transition periods and whether there will be further building exemptions and concessions enacted, will be made post that meeting.  

HIA will be undertaking a range of activities to support the industry adapt to the new livable housing provisions. We are producing a HIA guide to the livable housing provisions to break down the individual elements, in the coming months where we will provide more content and detail.

To find out more, contact HIA’s Building Services team.

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