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Doors in sanitary compartments

The Building Code of Australia (BCA) Volume Two (Housing Provisions) provides clarification regarding the interpretation of Clause 3.8.3.3 for sanitary compartments, meaning that in some cases the requirement to design using a ‘lift-off’ door system may not be needed.

BCA requirements for sanitary compartments

According to the Building Code of Australia (BCA) Volume Two the requirement to design sanitary compartments using a ‘lift-off’ door system may not be needed. This information was first included in the BCA in 2009.

The intent of the door requirements for a sanitary compartment (bathrooms/toilets) is to provide a way to open the door sufficiently for a second person to enter when the occupant has collapsed or may require assistance.

Clause 3.8.3.3 sets out that access should be possible by having either a door that opens outwards, a cavity or face-of-wall sliding door or for a door that opens into the sanitary compartment, that it be readily removable from the outside – i.e. capable of lifting off its hinges, unless there is a clear space of at least 1200mm between the closet pan and the nearest part of the doorway.

Depending on the design of the bathroom, this 1200mm provision may be met, but a building certifier may not consider that the design achieves strict compliance with the BCA based on the words ‘nearest part of the doorway’ – In particular, circumstances where the door is located on the same wall as the closet pan.

To clarify that there are a range of possible designs that meet the 1200mm distance, Figure 3.8.3.3 has now been included. This figure shows that if the door swings in and the pan is on the same wall as the doorway, then the pan can be located within 1200mm of the edge of the doorway and does not have to be removable, sliding or open outwards.

This clarification recognises that if a person collapses in the sanitary compartment it is unlikely that the door will be prevented from being opened. Hence the performance requirement will have been achieved. 

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

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