We’ve been part of the conversation about changes to accessible housing and energy efficiency for many years, but in 2021, it became clear that even with many issues still outstanding, these changes will be implemented as part of the National Construction Code (NCC) 2022.
The Queensland Government confirmed its intention to adopt the changes and is now looking to push through these substantial changes, without addressing these very real concerns – which will impact home buyers and the building industry.
There’s no doubt that future provisions are needed, whether they be accessibility changes that will provide benefits for the elderly or people with disabilities, or energy efficiency changes that will help ensure we have sustainable housing stock into the future. But if the unintended consequences of these changes aren’t recognised and addressed, and the transition isn’t handled properly, these benefits simply won’t be realised for those they are intended to help.
The changes that are being proposed are impractical and will ultimately equate to a higher cost, so we must also have fair and practical outcomes for Aussie homebuyers who are already struggling with housing affordability, and for the builders and tradies who deliver new homes for our communities. If the changes are going to have the desired impact and genuinely benefit those who need it, they need to be buildable and we need more clarity, and more time to transition.
We cannot support regulation that adversely impacts housing affordability, challenges good design or puts productivity at risk. Therefore, while we have supported accessible housing changes in principle, our mantra has always been that these measures should not be regulated, but achieved via non-mandatory measures.
The changes proposed as part of the NCC 2022 will not only have a significant impact on the cost of a new home, the details that have been provided to date have significant gaps and shortcomings and are insufficient as practical and workable regulations. We’ve also highlighted concerns about the need for clear and precise definitions, the allowance of tolerances for on-site variables and ensuring homeowners have the flexibility to exclude finishing costs, like floor coverings, from the building contract.
We’ve flagged the need for a three-year transition period, which will allow builders to adjust their designs and built sales product, and exemptions for a variety of scenarios that would otherwise be impossible to implement.
The proposed changes will mean all new houses will be required to meet 7-star requirements, having a significant impact on the cost to build. The changes will mean higher glazing requirements, increased ceiling and wall insulation, stricter provisions for heating and air-conditioning systems and hot water systems – all which will mean home buyers ultimately bear the cost. Not all these changes make sense for the Queensland climate and will often not result in a more energy efficient, comfortable home.
We are calling on the government to ensure that they listen to our feedback, and make certain there are as few unintended consequences as possible when the NCC 2022 is introduced.