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What are building classes?

An Overview on Building Classes

The classification of building classes is guided by the National Construction Code. In Victoria, the Building Act 1993 (Vic) is a statutory regime that regulates building works (including, building classes) and building standards. Building regulations are generally characterised by two forms of regulatory conduct, administrative regulation and technical regulation.

As part of Victoria’s building regulation, Building Regulations 2018 (Vic) adopts Volume One and Volume Two of the National Construction Code (also known as the Building Code of Australia) for the assessment of building classes. Specifically, regulation 12 of the Building Regulations 2018 (Vic) states:

“For the purposes of these Regulations, buildings must be classified as set out in the BCA.”

In this article, we address the frequently asked questions that developers, builders, and owners may have regarding the topic of building classes:

What is the National Construction Code?

The National Construction Code (NCC) is a performance-based building code that is made up of three volumes: Volume One, Volume Two and Volume Three. It sets mandatory levels of performance, however, has flexibility for design solutions to promote innovation and productivity within the built industry. Relevantly, the National Construction Code is defined by the Australian Building Codes Board, as:

“Australia’s primary set of technical design and construction provisions for buildings. As a performance-based code, it sets the minimum required level for the safety, health, amenity, accessibility, and sustainability of certain buildings.”

The three volumes that form the National Construction Code may be separated as follows.

VolumeSummary
Volume OneVolume One sets out the building requirements for building classes, Class 2 to 9 buildings, with carve-ins for specific kinds of buildings and structures.
Volume TwoVolume Two volume sets out the building requirements for building classes, Class 1 and 10 buildings, with carve-outs for specific kinds of buildings and structures.
Volume ThreeVolume Three sets out the technical and design requirements for plumbing and drainage systems, more particularly known as the Plumbing Code of Australia. 

For further information on the National Construction Code (NCC), our related topics, include:

What are the building classes in the National Construction Code?

The National Construction Code (NCC) defines ten different building classes: Class 1 to Class 10. The different classifications of buildings acknowledges that buildings may have different uses, and associated risks with different types of activities that may be performed within a building. The classifications determine the required building requirements for particular building uses.

How is the classification of a building determined?

When building surveyors assess a building, a building surveyor must classify the building. If there is any doubt to a classification, a building surveyor must classify a building as belonging to a building class it most closely resembles.

When classifying, the National Construction Code sets out relevant classifications to determine the purpose that a building may be designed, constructed or adapted to be used, in accordance with the requirements of its classification. Each part of a building must also be properly classified to comply with its required classifications.

What is a Class 1 building?

Class 1 buildings may be categorised into two separate sub-classifications of building classes: Class 1a and Class 1b buildings.

What is a Class 1a and Class 1b building?

Building ClassificationSummary
Class 1a buildingsA Class 1a classification are typically buildings that are dwelling. This type of classification may include a detached house, or alternatively, a group of two more attached dwelling, each building, separated by a fire-resisting wall, that includes: a row house, terrace house, town house or villa unit.
Class 1b buildingsA Class 1b classification are typically buildings that are characterised as: a boarding house, guest house, hostel, or of similar nature, that would ordinarily accommodate not more than twelve (12) people, and have a total area of all floors, not more than 300 metre squared, or alternatively, four or more single dwellings located on an allotment and used for short-term holiday accommodation.

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What is a Class 2 building?

A Class 2 buildings is a building that contains two or more sole-occupancy units, however, each sole occupancy unit in a Class 2 building must be a separate dwelling.

What is a Class 3 building?

A Class 3 building is a residential building that provides long-term or transient accommodation for unrelated people. Examples of Class 3 buildings may include a boarding house, a guest house, hostel, or backpacker accommodation.

What is a Class 4 building?

A Class 4 building is a dwelling located within a Class 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 building if it is the only dwelling in the building.

What is a Class 5 building?

A Class 5 building is an office building that is used for professional or commercial purposes. Examples of a Class 5 building generally include professional chamber or suite, lawyers’ office, government office, advertising agency and accountants’ office.

What is a Class 6 building?

A Class 6 building is a building used for the sale of goods by retail or supply of services direct to the public. Examples of Class 6 buildings may include, restaurants, a hairdresser’s shop, public laundry, café, a supermarket, and service station.

What is a Class 7 building?

A Class 7 building may be categorised into two separate sub-classifications of building classes: class 7a and class 7b building. However, a class 7 building is generally regarded as a storage-type building.

What is a Class 7a and 7b building?

A Class 7a building is a carpark, and a Class 7b building is a building used for storage, or display goods or produce for sale by wholesale.

What is a Class 8 building?

A Class 8 building is a process-type building. Examples of a Class 8 building may include: a laboratory, or alternatively, a building that involves production, assembling, altering, repairing, packing, fishing, or cleaning of goods or produce for sale takes place.

What is a Class 9 building?

A Class 9 building may be categorised into three sub-classifications of build classes: class 9a, class 9b, and class 9c building. However, a Class 9 building is generally regarded as a building of a public nature.

What is a Class 9a, Class 9b and Class 9c building?

In further detail, the three sub-classifications are:

Building ClassificationSummary
Class 9a buildingA Class 9a building is a health care building and include any parts of its building set aside as laboratories.
Class 9b buildingA Class 9b building is an assembly building. Examples of a class 9b building may include: a trade workshop, or a laboratory in a primary or secondary school. 
Class 9c buildingA Class 9c building is a residential care building.

What is a Class 10 building?

Class 10 buildings may be categorised into three sub-classifications of building classes: class 10a building, class 10b building, and class 10c building. However, they are generally regarded as non-habitable buildings or structures.

What is a Class 10a, Class 10b and Class 10c building?

In further detail, the three sub-classifications are:

Building ClassificationSummary
Class 10a buildingA Class 10a building is a non-habitable building, and may include: private garage, carport, and shed.
Class 10b buildingA Class 10b building is a structure that may include fence, mast, antenna, retaining wall, free-standing wall, and swimming pool.
Class 10c buildingA Class 10c building is a private bushfire shelter.

National Construction Code (NCC): Overview | National Construction Code (NCC): Format and Layout | Performance Requirements | Building Code of Australia (BCA)

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Do you need legal advice? Call us on (03) 5331 1244 to get in touch and arrange an appointment with one of our lawyers.

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Authored by:
Ben Franklin, Managing Partner (LIV Accredited Specialist – Property Law), &
Matthew Tran, Lawyer.

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