The National Construction Code (NCC) including Volumes 1 and Volume 2 of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) has previously been released on an annual frequency.
The current NCC 2014 remains in place until 01 May 2015 when the new edition is released as NCC 2015.
The great news for industry is that the NCC is being released for free with online access available and the ability to download the documents. This is a great initiative with building professionals and consumers being able to get their hands on the NCC without having to fork out hundreds of dollars.
Pre-registration for the online access started late last year and those that have already registered now have access to a free preview of NCC 2015 prior to the official adoption date of 1 May 2015. To register for access to the new on-line and free NCC 2015 visit https://services.abcb.gov.au/NCCOn-line/Account/Register
To recognise that the NCC is a performance-based code, the NCC now has a new document titled the ‘Performance Requirements extracted from the National Construction Code 2015’. The purpose of this publication is to emphasise that the Performance Requirements are the only mandatory requirements of the NCC. The document summarises the Performance Requirements from all three volumes of the NCC.
Compliance with these Performance Requirements can be achieved by following the prescriptive ‘Deemed-to-Satisfy’ approach outlined within each part of the NCC, adoption of a ‘performance-based’ approach, whereby ‘Alternative Solution’ designs can be developed that provide opportunity for new technologies, materials, innovation and flexibility, or a combination of both approaches can be adopted. You can read more about the use of ‘Alternative Solutions’ here.
BCA Volume 1, applies to all Class 1b and Class 2 to 9 buildings. The access requirements for new building works are outlined throughout various sections of the NCC 2015, BCA Volume 1 and these apply to car parking, external paths to buildings, building entrances and accessibility requirements within a building (which can include accessible or ambulant toilets, passenger lifts or platform lifts, stairs, ramps, hearing augmentation, exit signs etc.).
As far as the changes to the accessibility provisions of the BCA 2015 edition, there are very few. The following is a summary:
BCA Clause D2.0 ‘Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions’ has been amended to include a new item when passenger lifts are used to assist occupants to evacuation a building:
D2.0 (c) Performance Requirement DP7 must be complied with if lifts are to be used to assist occupants to evacuate a building.
Additionally, BCA Clause D3.0 ‘Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions’ has also been amended to include a new item when passenger lifts are used to assist occupants to evacuation a building:
D3.0 (c) Performance Requirement DP7 must be complied with if lifts are to be used to assist occupants to evacuate a building.
Though not strictly an accessibility provision, it is worth considering this Clause of the BCA, given the potential for a compliant accessible handrail arrangement to form part of an edge protection system. Clause D2.16 has been amended to simply the terminology of what constitutes a barrier, which includes along the edges of stairs landings and ramps (as well as decks, balconies, verandahs, mezzanines, access bridges or the like).
There is also the addition of Table D2.16(a), which now provides a much easier format to understand the requirements for barrier heights, barrier openings, and climbability aspects (the original Tables D2.16(a), (b) and (c) are now Tables D2.16(b), (c) and (d) respectively).
BCA Clause D3.6(a)(ii) has not been amended to allow some flexibility in how the level of a building is described or detailed on a Braille and tactile sign.
Previously, this Clause only required the word “Exit” followed by the floor level number. The new amendment, coming into effect on 1 May 2015 allows options. An extract of page 199 of the new BCA Volume 1 is provided in the image below, but the following is a summary of the requirements.
BCA Clause D3.6(a)(ii) now requires the word “Exit” followed by either:
The ACT has opted to adopt some of the Premises Standards concessions and Class 1b requirements within the BCA 2015, whilst most other States and Territories have amended their building legislation to reference the concessions (such as the Regulation 116 in the Victorian Building Regulations 2006).
ACT D3.4 Exemptions
(d) an area covered by, and in the respective circumstances covered by, and to the relevant extent provided for by, ACT DP0.1, ACT DP0.2, ACT DP0.3 or ACT DP0.4.
NSW has opted to adopt an amended Table D2.16(a).
At this point, it’s also worth considering other State and Territory specific access requirements that are detailed within the Appendices and have been around post BCA 2011, but may not be so obvious to users of the BCA.
South Australia has taken a very positive step to improve the level of accessibility in Class 2 buildings by adding Table D3.1(a) which requires:
Class 2 In developments consisting of 20 or more residential sole-occupancy units
Australia access is required:
To and within one residential sole-occupancy unit or 5% of the total number of residential sole-occupancy units provided, whichever is the greater
South Australia has added Table F2.4(a)(i) requiring not less than 1 accessible unisex toilet within every sole-occupancy unit required by SA Table D3.1a to be accessible.
Furthermore, South Australia has added Table F2.4(b)(i) requiring not less than 1 accessible shower within every sole-occupancy unit required by SA Table D3.1a to be accessible.
The Appendix does not however state how or to what level of standard each sole-occupancy unit must be accessible (given there is no such standard available, other than considering the Livable Housing Guidelines or AS4299 Adaptable Housing, and neither of which are referenced within SA Table 1 of A1.3).
The design must however consider the needs of people with disability and the elderly and consider the principals of Universal Design and Universal Access for people with a disability.
Tasmania has introduced their own Performance Requirement within the Appendix – DP10, which states:
A building or part of a building must be accessible in accordance with the requirements of a Standard made under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.
Clause D3.0 has been amended to include consideration of the new Tasmanian Performance Requirement DP10:
Where a Building Solution is proposed to comply with the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions, Performance Requirements DP1 to DP6, DP8, DP9 and Tas DP10 are satisfied by complying with………..
Tasmania has created D3.13 which states:
(a) A Building Solution must comply with the Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards 2010.
(b) A Building Solution complies with Tas D3.0(a) if it complies with the applications, exceptions and concessions in the Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards 2010.
First aid rooms required by (a) must—(i) be distributed as uniformly as possible throughout the assembly building or open spectator stand; and (ii) be convenient to a public road; and (iii) be readily accessible from within and outside the arena or ground; and (iv)
have a floor area of not less than 24 m2; and (v) be provided with a suitable wash basin or sink.
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