NCC 2019 Agreed Changes

HIA Industry Update for NHS
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HIA Industry Update – January 2019

The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) has released an overview of the major changes for the National Construction Code (NCC 2019) on their website. The release of the information follows the recent ABCB Board meeting where the major changes and final draft were discussed.

NCC 2019 is the first (full) edition of the NCC since moving to a 3 year amendment cycle. The 2019 edition contains a number of significant changes that will affect all Classes of buildings, including houses and low-mid rise residential buildings.

The major changes that will affect housing include:

  • introduction of separate heating and cooling loads for NatHERS star ratings.
  • revision of the existing reference building verification method (V2.6.2.2) including clarification of the software tools that can and cannot be used to undertake modelling for this method.
  • more prescriptive building sealing requirements and inclusion of a verification method (optional) for building sealing being the use of the ‘blower door’ test.
  • introduction of condensation management provisions including the use of vapour permeable membranes in certain climate zones and external ducting of exhaust under certain circumstance.

Individually these changes may not seem substantial, the cumulative effect may mean that many house designs will require some change.

The changes to the Reference Building Verification Method will impact house designs in WA in particular as this has been a common energy efficiency compliance path used due to predominant use of cavity masonry construction.

On a positive note the NCC will re-introduce into the code Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions for masonry veneer construction and improvements to many other parts of Volume Two resulting from the ABCB’s Acceptable Construction Practice Review project.

Additionally, the new edition will incorporate revised and enhanced BCA product evidentiary requirements for determining a products fitness for purposes, this also includes the publishing of an accompanying ABCB product assurance Handbook.

HIA has sought the inclusion of this content back into the NCC itself rather than wholly reliant on referenced standards and for improved product conformity requirements.

The major changes that will affect low-mid rise Class 2 buildings include:

  • Mandatory sprinkler protection for buildings 4 storeys and above (with offsets).
  • The condensation and energy efficiency changes, mentioned above.
  • Energy efficiency stringency increases for commercial buildings which will effect common areas, shared services of apartments and mixed use buildings (apartments with ground floor cafés and shops).

The changes to mandate sprinkler protection for buildings 4 storeys and above are significant and were not supported by HIA. A recent report on fire safety of Class 2 and 3 buildings concluded that the current Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions provide a sufficient level of fire safety, the cost impacts of the proposed solution have not been adequately tested and therefore justification for change has not been established. Further to this the RIS for the change supported HIA’s position that the sprinkler protection should be an optional Deemed-to-Satisfy and not a mandatory provision.

The energy efficiency stringency increases for commercial buildings will impact a number of HIA members working on mixed use apartment buildings and commercial buildings or supplying products to those buildings.

Other changes include the ABCB Board agreeing to retain the bonded laminate materials clause from C1.9(e) (former C1.12) and permitting certain types of sarking type material that meet prescribed criteria to be used in external walls required to be non-combustible.

The majority to the changes will take effect from 1 May next year, though to assist industry with adjusting to these changes the ABCB Board agreed for a 12 month transition period for all of the energy efficiency provisions for all classes of buildings.

NCC 2019 will be available for public preview in February 2019 and once released HIA will provide further information. This will include HIA running seminars to provide further detail on the changes.

The ABCB will release the information on the changes on their website www.abcb.gov.au

For further clarification and information HIA members can contact HIA’s Building Services team on 1300 650 620 or hia_technical@hia.com.au

Craig Jennion
HIA Executive Director – Hunter