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The barrier requirements in Part 3.9.2 of the NCC set out the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions for barriers and handrails to minimise the risk of persons falling from a stairway, balcony, landing, trafficable roof or the like and for the protection of openable windows in certain circumstances.
These provisions have changed over the last few years so it is important that builders review these changes to ensure that they install compliant barriers and handrails.
The important change to 18.104.22.168 is that it refers to a trafficable surface when determining if a barrier is required.
A continuous barrier must be provided along the side of a trafficable surface of:
A trafficable surface is anywhere where a person would normally walk to get from one place to another, being either from the street, throughout the house or from the house to another building.
This is particularly important when considering if a barrier is required adjacent to a retaining wall. The provisions only apply where the retaining wall is associated with a delineated path of access to a building from a road, or between buildings.
Figure 1: Barrier for retaining walls
This is not a new provision. The figure below has been added to clarify that where it is possible to fall 1m or more from a walkway or path leading from the street to the house, garage to a house, etc., that is supported by a retaining wall, a barrier is required to be provided.
It does not apply to a retaining wall used for landscaping or terracing in the backyard. The clause states that:
The requirements do not apply to:
a retaining wall unless the retaining wall forms part of, or is directly associated with, a delineated path of access to a building from the road, or a delineated path of access between buildings (see Figure 22.214.171.124).
The construction of a barrier must comply with the following (these provisions have not changed but they have been renumbered with some editorial improvements):
All barriers, except a window serving as a barrier, must be designed to take loading forces in accordance with AS/NZS 1170.1.
The provisions for handrails to stairs and ramps are now required to be provided in Class 10a buildings. The exemption in NCC 2016 not to apply to Class 10a has been removed.
Therefore, in a Class 10a building as well as a Class 1 building where a stairway or ramp is providing a change in elevation of 1m or more (i.e. greater than five risers) a handrail will be required.
As a minimum requirement, handrails to a stairway flight or ramp must be provided on at least one side of the stairway or ramp and for the full length of the stairway flight or ramp. It must be continuous and have no obstructions that will tend to break a handhold except for a newel post or ball type stanchion.
As with barriers the top surface of the handrail must be at least 865mm vertically above the nosings of the stair tread or floor surface of a ramp.
For stairways with winders it is important that the handrail continues on the same side from top to bottom to be a continuous handrail. It is not appropriate in stairs with winders to change the handrail to the other side of the stairway at the newel post as it will no longer be continuous from the top to the bottom. See Figure 2.
For stairways with landings, a handrail is not required to the landing at the top or bottom of a flight or between two flights (except where a person could fall 1m or more from the landing). See Figure 3.
The NCC has now changed the layout of the clauses relating to protection of openable windows. There are now two clauses:
There are also new diagrams that clarify the clause requirements. See figures 4, 5 and 6.
126.96.36.199 requires any openable window where the sill is less than 1.7m above the floor must have a device capable of restricting the window opening or a securely fitted screen. If the device or screen can be removed then additional requirements must be provided.
Figure 4 and 5
Clause 188.8.131.52 requires an openable part of the window if the sill is below 865mm from the floor to be protected with a barrier with a minimum of height of 865mm, have non-climbable elements between 150 mm and 760mm above the floor and not permit a sphere of 125mm pass through the opening.
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