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Understand your insulation needs

It’s important for builders to be aware of the requirements for insulation under the National Construction Code (NCC) to ensure that insulation complies with relevant Australian Standards for quality, performance and labelling. What are the labelling requirements and what minimum standards of performance must insulation meet in order to satisfy the requirements of the Code?

How NCC rules apply to insulation

There are a wide range of insulation products that can be used in residential building work to meet the necessary energy efficiency standards under the NCC. There are also a large number of suppliers of insulation materials in Australia who use both locally manufactured and imported materials.

From time to time, builders may consider using an insulation product that they have not used before. It’s therefore important that they be aware of insulation requirements as stipulated by the NCC and that the products they use comply with the relevant Australian Standards.

These rules apply to:

  • new home construction (under the NCC)
  • renovations to existing homes (under the NCC)
  • existing homes (where insulation is installed that does not need building approval)

Labelling requirements

Under the NCC  and AS/NZS 4859.1 Thermal insulation materials for buildings  insulation products must include all of the following information on the outside label:

  • Product name
  • Description of contents
  • Name and address of manufacturer
  • Batch identification or other traceability information
  • Safety instructions – special reference must be made to avoiding problems with electrical cables
  • The statement ‘This pack complies with AS/NZS 4859.1 for a net weight of XX kg, a total area of YY m2 and a mean thickness of ZZ mm’ where XX, YY and ZZ appear on a valid and current report of measurement of thermal resistance in accordance with this Standard
  • Number of pieces
  • Nominal total area (m2)
  • Nominal length and width of each piece
  • Nominal stabilised thickness
  • A statement of the time after installation to achieve nominal stabilised thickness and R-value
  • A statement ‘the performance of this product may be reduced if stored for too long in its compression packaging’
  • A statement ‘the total R value depends on installation and may be greater than or less than the R value of the product’
  • Declared material R-value.

Insulation performance

Under the NCC, insulation needs to perform at the correct R-value for the location and design of the home.

For new home construction and renovations, the performance will be specified in the building plans and specification and must meet the minimum requirements under the NCC for that state or territory.

The R-value must be shown on the label of the product. If it’s not clear, you should consider using an alternative product.

Another simple indicator of whether the product meets this R-value is the thickness. For example, an R3.5 batt is generally at least 170mm in thickness.

To be compliant with AS/NZS4859.1 the insulation needs to have been tested and should have an appropriate test report to prove the results. If a supplier can not provide a copy of this report, you should consider using an alternative product.

Further assurance can be provided by asking for a manufacturer’s warranty – this is your guarantee of quality and performance, and it can be provided by all reputable insulation suppliers.

Remember to speak with your insulation supplier to ensure their products meet NCC and AS/NZS 4859.1 requirements.

Correct installation of insulation

The correct installation of insulation materials is key to ensuring products perform at their intended level.

Simple things like the width of the batt, cutting, over-filling, under-filling or using the product in the wrong location can have a significant impact on performance.

The Insulation Council of Australia and New Zealand (ICANZ) has published a free Insulation Handbook that provides a range of details on how to correctly install insulation. 

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

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