The National Construction Code (NCC) is Australia’s main technical design and construction provisions for buildings. The current edition is the National Construction Code NCC 2022, where there are three volumes - volume 1, 2 and 3; and most changes have now been adopted. NCC 2022 includes changes that are significantly impacting residential construction.
When does NCC 2022 come into effect?
- Commenced 1 May 2023 – Bushfire protection, early childhood centres, face mounted balustrade, falls to floor waste, quantification, wind loads for housing, waterproofing
- Commenced 1 October 2023 – Livable housing, condensation, and electric vehicle charging.
- Commencing 1 May 2024 – Energy efficiency.
- Commencing 1 September 2026 – Lead in plumbing products.
There are transitional arrangements for projects underway as to whether the new requirements apply. These are detailed in a government guide.
NCC 2022 changes - navigate
Click on the titles below to get quick access information on that topic.
BUSHFIRE PROTECTION | CONDENSATION | EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTRES | ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING | ENERGY EFFICIENCY | FACE MOUNTED BALUSTRADE | FALLS TO FLOOR WASTE | LIVABLE HOUSING | LEAD IN PLUMBING PRODUCTS | QUANTIFICATION | WIND LOADS FOR HOUSING | WATERPROOFING
As part of the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) plan to provide an NCC that is user-friendly, NCC 2022 comes with major changes to its structure and format.
The focus is on the digitisation of the Code and improve its readability.
The changes cover two broad categories:
- Consistent volume structure
- New layout introducing - Sections, Parts, Types, and Clauses known as the new (SPTC) referencing system.
For those who use Building Code Volume 2 for Class 1 and 10 structures, you will notice significant changes to the layout.
All of Section 3 containing the acceptable construction manuals and practices has been moved into a separate document called the ABCB Housing Provisions.
Commenced 1 May 2023.
Bushfire protection for vulnerable occupants in buildings such as residential care is also addressed. The proposed changes are due to the findings of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.
A new performance requirement, verification method and deemed to satisfy (DTS) are included to provide additional protection to those buildings used by occupants where evacuation is unsafe.
Compliance however does not guarantee the safety of the occupants which is consistent with the scope of AS 3959 Construction of Buildings in Bushfire Prone Areas.
Commenced 1 October 2023.
Zone 5 (Toowoomba region) where a pliable building membrane, sarking-type material or insulation layer is installed on the exterior side of the primary insulation layer of an external wall it must have a vapour permeance of not less than 0.143 μg/N.s. This will assist in condensation mitigation.
Exhaust systems (Housing Provisions Part 10.8.2)
All kitchen, bathroom, sanitary and laundry exhaust systems must have a minimum flow rate (25 L/s bathroom, sanitary compartment or 40L/s kitchen, laundry) and discharge directly via a shaft or duct to outdoor air. They can no longer be discharged into a ventilated roof space.
If rooms do not have natural ventilation (as per ventilation requirements in Housing Provisions Part 10.6.2(a)) they must have make up air. One option to provide make up air for the minimum flow rates is a 20 mm undercut on a 700 mm door. If the door is wider the gap will be less.
If the exhaust flowrates exceed the minimum flowrates of 10.8.2(1), additional make-up air openings may be required for the correct operation of the exhaust system.
In a non-ventilated bathroom or sanitary compartment, the exhaust must be interlocked with the light switch and have a run-on timer (if not already running continuously).
If a venting clothes dryer is installed, it must discharge directly via a shaft or duct to outdoor air.
Early childhood centres
Commenced 1 May 2023.
Volume 1 includes revised DTS provisions to address situations where an early childhood centre is located on upper levels of a multi-storey building.
High-rise buildings are increasingly being built as mixed-use retail, offices and car parking. Childhood centres are being included as an incentive for owners and tenants.
As children are the most vulnerable occupants of buildings, the changes are intended to protect them through fire compartmentation that will provide occupants with a safe refuge area before they are evacuated from the building.
Electric vehicle charging
Commenced 1 October 2023.
Class 2, 3, 5, 6 7b, 8 and 9 buildings with at least 9 carparking spaces will need to include electrical distribution boards to facilitate the later installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging in buildings.
The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) have issued a position statement and advised that the electrical installations for EV's and allocation of car park spaces within a building is a 'special hazard' and a safety concern for firefighter intervention.
Their concern is that a lithium battery failure has the potential to lead to a thermal runaway event causing toxic smoke and a rapid rate of fire spread.
QFES have requested that Building Certifiers consider the installation of EV charging stations in buildings and EV in car parks as a special hazard when they are assessing a building development application.
Government has advised that the installation of the distribution board alone does not trigger the ‘special hazard’.
The following matters are some of the design requirements that will require consultation between electrical, mechanical and fire engineers.
- Emergency shutdown controls
- Block plans of EV charging stations
- Vehicle impact protection
- Fire detection
- Smoke Management
- Review the suitability of the deemed to satisfy solution provisions.
Commencing 1 May 2024, announced on 19 September 2023.
There will be significant costs and technical challenges to achieve the new requirements for energy efficiency in the NCC 2022. Before agreeing to a fixed price after 1 May 2024 ensures a National Construction Code 2022 compliant energy assessment been undertaken.
Class 1 buildings thermal performance will increase from 6 to 7 stars under the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS). Class 2 buildings will require the thermal performance to meet an average of 7 stars with no sole occupancy unit being less than 6 stars.
The DTS elemental table requirements for housing have also been increased and the new tables are extensive. It is very likely that ceiling fans will be required to all habitable rooms throughout Queensland.
The NCC 2022 includes a 1 star credit for an outdoor living area with a ceiling fan in climate zones 1 and 2 (Queensland coast and far north). [This is only applicable if using an energy rating software tool and not the elemental tables.] Master Buildings is continuing to talk to government about the credit being extended to all Queensland climate zones.
The NCC 2022 also includes a new sperate requirement with the introduction of a “Whole of Home, annual energy usage budget”. It applies to the energy use of the home’s heating and cooling equipment which includes air conditioning, heated water systems, lighting, and swimming pool and spa pumps.
This approach enables renewable energy system to offset the energy use or by choosing a more efficient heating and cooling equipment to meeting the energy usage allowed. It cannot be used to offset any requirements for the thermal performance of the building (star rating).
Master Builders continues to maintain that now is not the time to be implementing these changes.
We have a prepared a Consumer Guide to help explain the changes to your clients.
Face mounted balustrade
Commenced 1 May 2023.
The gap between the face of a trafficable surface and the balustrade is now limited to a maximum 40 mm.
The ABCB noted the inconsistent application of the Code to face-mounted balustrades where some designers have allowed a gap up to 125 mm which was considered hazardous.
Falls to floor wastes
Commenced 1 May 2023.
The Housing Provisions have changed to require that surface finishes grade to every drain waste (that is any hole in the floor) in a wet area.
This applies regardless of whether the floor waste was required to be installed as a requirement of NCC 2022, or if the floor waste was installed voluntarily.
Queensland specific rules override the Housing Provisions Queensland Development Code (QDC) Mandatory Part (MP) 4.5 Livable dwellings and grading to floor wastes and states that:
- The wet area floor gradient to non-mandatory floor waste is now required to be between 1:80 and 1:00, overriding the NCC provision of a gradient between 1:50 and 1:80.
- However, the floor does not need to be graded to the non-mandatory floor waste if:
- All vessels have in-built overflow protection, and flood stop safety valves are fitted to all flexible hose assemblies in the wet area; or
- Each entrance to the wet area has a linear drain across the full entrance; or
- Each entrance to the wet area has a weir extending across the entrance at least 10mm above the height of the floor waste and maximum gradient of 1:8 within the door jamb/ 100mm of door jamb.
[Refer to A5 of QDC MP4.5 for detailed requirements]
- The floor does not need to be graded if there is no floor waste.
- If an area of the floor is separated from the entrance by a graded area, that separated area does not have to be graded [refer figure A5(5) of QDC MP4.5].
Commenced 1 October 2023.
There are major changes to include livable (accessible) housing provisions for all new homes (houses, units etc. regardless of size) and major renovations in the NCC 2022.
The changes are intended to increase the number of houses suitable for people with a mobility disability.
Master Builders continues to advocate that this is not enough time for industry to prepare and that there is still more work that needs to be done to make the requirements practical and affordable.
The provisions include:
- Step-free path from the site boundary or parking area
- An exemption will be available where there is no suitable location to provide a compliant path
- Landing at the entrance (unless exempt from the step-free path or access is through the attached parking area)
- Where the step-free path is via the parking area, the parking space must be a minimum of 3200 mm wide and 5400 mm long
- Step-free threshold (a small ramped threshold or small sill is allowed)
- Addressing weatherproofing and termite prevention is going to be a challenge
- Entrance door with an 820 mm clear opening (generally achieved with an 870 mm door leaf)
- Internal doors on the entry level have 820 mm clear openings and level thresholds (again a small ramped threshold is allowed)
- Corridors are 1000 mm minimum wide on the ground (or entry) level
- Ensure that the distance is measured between the finished walls and not the frame as is industry practice
- Toilet on the ground (or entry) level with a minimum 900 mm by 1200 mm clear distance in front of the pan (free of the vanity and the swing of the door)
- Hobless and step-free shower
- This shower does not need to be on the ground (or entry) level. If located on another level the requirements for the internal doors and corridors will extend to that level
- It will be important to ensure that the bathroom falls are carefully managed in light of the additional new requirement of falls to floor waste
- It will likely require the whole bathroom to be waterproofed as it will be a challenge to achieve an 'enclosed shower'
- Reinforced walls around the accessible shower, toilet and bath (if provided)
- Reinforced with 12 mm structural ply, 25 mm timber noggings or light gauge steel framing noggings.
Following advocacy by Master Builders, the Queensland Government has provided a small number of amendments to livable housing requirements.
- Transition to 31 March 2025 has been provided for narrow lots (frontage of 12.5m or less) where the lot was:
- (a) created prior to 1 October 2023; or
- (b) created after 1 October 2023 and on or before 31 March 2025 provided:
- a properly made application for a development permit for reconfiguring of a lot to create the lot is made prior to 1 October 2023; or
- the lot is identified in a disclosure plan under the Land Sales Act 1984 prior to 1 October 2023.
- Transition to 31 March 2025 for prefabricated small modular dwellings provided the dwelling is 55m2 or less, manufactured off-site and completed prior to 1 October 2023, and installed prior to 31 March 2025.
- Alternative options for an enclosed shower that is also an accessible (step-free, hobless) shower are provided, permitting:
- a 5 mm waterbar or 5 mm step-down provided the shower screen has a deflector
- shower with a linear drain at entry if the shower screen door positioned in one of the two required positions.
- An option to provide the compliant accessible toilet on the first level where a habitable room is located if there are no habitable rooms on entry level (e.g. internal garage, laundry or stairs on entry level).
The details can found in the QDC MP 4.5 Livable dwellings and grading to floor wastes.
Lead in plumbing products
Commencing 1 September 2026.
Lead is currently used in the manufacture of plumbing products such as taps, mixers and appliances for the delivery of drinking water. The exact lead content of products varies by component, though some products in contact with drinking water can contain up to 6% lead as a proportion of raw material.
The changes require all new copper alloy plumbing products in contact with drinking water to have a weighted average lead content of no more than 0.25%, in accordance with the following options:
- Option 1: A test report provided by an Accredited Testing Laboratory, in accordance with NSF/ANSI 372 ‘Drinking Water System Components – Lead Content’
- Option 2: A WaterMark licence, provided it includes compliance with NSF/ANSI 372.
As it will take some time for manufacturers to change the manufacturing process and retest products the requirement will be introduced over a three-year transition period. There is also information regarding plumbing and drainage systems within this new edition.
New wind loads for housing standard
Commenced 1 May 2023.
The new edition of AS 4055: 2021 Wind Loads for Housing is now a referenced document in the 2022 version. The new standard includes clarity on dimensional limits. Previously it was unclear how to calculate the maximum height of the house on a sloping site.
The slope is now calculated for retaining walls and batters to a maximum height of 3 metres as a reference line mid height of the retaining walls and batters. The house at any section should not exceed 8.5 metres in height.
The wind region map has been changed due to a review of the weather records. Thunderstorm records in South East Queensland and northern New South Wales have exceeded the wind speeds for wind Region A.
For this reason, wind Region B has been extended 200 km west between Bundaberg and just north of Coffs Harbour. That will mean an increase in construction detailing and costs for those dwellings captured within the extended wind region.
Commenced 1 May 2023.
Included is new quantified performance requirements to provide a practical approach to meet the performance requirements within the Code.
They do not change any of the current DTS pathways or verification methods.
The intention is to provide clarity on the level of performance required when developing a performance solution for construction requirements such as structural reliability, glass at risk of human impact, bushfire-prone areas, fire safety, noise isolation, fire detection and early warning, flow rate and pressure, water efficiency and microbial growth.
Commenced 1 May 2023.
New Waterproofing Standard in NCC 2022
AS 3740: 2021 Water Proofing of Domestic Wet Areas is now referenced in Volume 1 & 2 of the NCC.
What are the main changes to waterproofing in NCC 2022?
- Water proofing required to all of the shower wall
- Gradient requirements changed for surface finishes
- Waterproof membranes now need to be graded to the drain waste puddle flange
- You can avoid grading the membrane in housing if you only use the NCC (Part 10.2 Housing Provisions) and not the new AS 3740:2021
- All commercial wet areas must have graded membranes and surface finishes to a drain waste.
Waterproof Shower Walls
New requirement for the entire water-resistant wall lining to a shower area must be waterproofed to a minimum height of 1800 mm above the finished floor level or 50 mm above the shower rose, whichever is the higher.
Wet Area floors – Gradients
Where a floor waste is installed:
- (a) the minimum continuous fall of a floor plane to the waste must be 1:80, and
- (b) the maximum continuous fall of a floor plane to the waste must be 1:50.
Membrane – Gradients
New requirement that where the surface finish (e.g. tiles) is required to drain to a floor waste, then the waterproof membrane wherever placed below those finishes must also be graded
Are graded membranes required in every wet area?
Membrane grading requirements can be applied differently between AS 3740 & NCC Volume 1 & 2.
In Volume 2 residential you can choose to disregard AS 3740 entirely and use all of Section 10.2 that does not require graded membranes to a drain waste. For Volume 1, commercial buildings and units there is no opting out of the graded membrane requirements in any wet area with a drain waste.
Resources & guides
We’ve developed two guides for consumers and industry that will assist in understanding the requirements for livable housing and energy efficiency, supporting implementation to meet the performance requirements.
Explains the changes that are coming and what to expect when building a home in Queensland with these added requirements.
Documentation Guide & Checklist
Steps the industry through each stage of the design and certification process and helps to ensure new dwellings meet the ABCB Livable Housing Design standard, created in conjunction with the Building Designers Association of Australia (BDAA) and the Australian Institute of Building Surveyors (AIBS). Members can download or print this guide to support their own quoting and contractual documentation for customers who will be impacted by the new requirements.
It covers building development approval, recommended inclusions for construction drawings (covering step-free access, slip resistance, dwelling entrances and doors, weatherproofing, level thresholds, corridor widths, toilet pans, hobless step free showers and wall reinforcing), through to aspect inspections and the final building certification/certificate of occupancy.
ABCB Handbook for Livable Housing Design
The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) has also released a Handbook to help with the implementation of livable housing provisions. The Handbook contains guidance material made up of diagrams, tables and examples to help with the understanding and application of the livable housing provisions.
ABCB information on key changes
Download NCC 2022
You can download this edition of the NCC online.
Are small,prefabricated homes exempt from livable housing requirements?
No. Master Builders requested for an exemption for small dwellings but this was not agreed to. Instead, the QDC has an 'exemption' for prefabricated homes under 55m2 already built and sitting off site before 1 October. These would likely be exempt anyway under existing ‘substantial design’ transition arrangements.
Are all homes builton narrow lots are exempt from livable housing requirements until 31 March 2025?
No. It is only lots with a frontage of 12.5m or less, where one of the following has already occurred PRIOR to 1 October 2023:
- lot created (i.e. titled), or
- a properly made application for a development permit for reconfiguring the lot is made, and the lot is created prior to 1 April 2025; or
- the lot is identified in a disclosure plan under the Land Sales Act 1984 and the lot is created prior to 1 April 2025.
What are theadditional costs of building to comply with 'Modern Homes Standards'?
It depends. Builders - the people who actually build, order and pay for supplies, pay for certifiers and assessors, pay for trades and labour - say the costs will be up to $20,000 - $30,000 a home, on average around the State, for both energy efficiency and livable housing changes.
Single storey slab on ground construction with easy flat access and a good orientation should have lower compliance costs. High set platform construction homes may cost more. Prefabricated homes will also have an increased cost, and if an access ramp is required this will add to the cost.
Are Queenslander-stylehomes exempt from livable housing requirements?
No. Where it is not feasible to achieve a step-free access path from either the property boundary or carparking space to the home entry – such that it is not possible to comply with a certain length and gradient of path – then there is an exemption from the step-free access path requirement. However, all other livable housing requirements apply including step-free entry into the home.
Builders are telling us that when it comes to the energy efficiency requirements, it will be particularly challenging (that is expensive) to meet the new 7 star requirements with houses like Queenslanders that are built raised off the ground. This is because of the additional underfloor insulation that is required. This will be more pronounced in colder climates such as Toowoomba and the Darling Downs.
Do I need to make thebathroom accessible when I’m renovating just the bathroom?
Yes. The Queensland Development Code requires that you make the bathroom accessible if there is not already a bathroom with the accessible elements. That is if you have 2 bathrooms, neither is accessible and are only renovating one, the renovated bathroom must be made accessible.
There some exemptions to this:
- You are permitted a step into the bathroom. You don’t need to meet the level threshold requirement.
- If you are not changing entrance doorway you do not need to provide one with 820 mm clearance.
- If you are not increasing the size of the room, you do not need to have the 1200 mm x 900 mm space in front of the toilet. Note: That is any change in the size. If you are increasing the size of the room by any amount you will need to provide the clearance. Even if it is not sufficient to provide the additional space.
- If you are not exposing the relevant part wall frame you do not need to provide the wall noggings for future grabrails if of the wall is being exposed as part of the renovation.
The other NCC requirements, such as grading the floor to the waste will also need to be addressed.
It should be noted a ‘repair’ is not required to comply. A ‘repair’ is ‘returning an item to an acceptable condition by the renewal, replacement or mending of worn, damaged or degraded parts.
A building certifier will continue to have a discretion to require building work to comply with:
- earlier building assessment provisions in accordance with section 61 of the Building Act 1975, for example where general safety and structural standards would not be at risk; and
- the Livable Housing Design Standard in accordance with section 81 of the Building Act 1975, for example where the renovations represent more than half the total volume of the existing building or structure.
However, a building certifier may not be required for a bathroom renovation that does not include structural alterations.
The above is a summary and does not contain all the essential information required. Keep an eye on our events and member communications for information, and we have a comprehensive detailed Waterproofing Building Information sheet available should you require it.
NCC compliance is a statutory requirement, and you should always review and check that your work complies with the applicable sections of the Code.
Need more information?
If you haven’t found the answer to your questions on our website, give us a call or email us.