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What is the National Construction Code (NCC)? 

An Overview on the National Construction Code

The National Construction Code comprises the Building Code of Australia (BCA) Volume One and Two, and the Plumbing Code of Australia, Volume Three. Generally, the purpose of building regulations is aimed at protecting people and environment, and includes protecting people during a building’s life, and building risks such as structural collapse, fires, amenities, sanitation, lighting and insulation. It is also intended to protect the environment by ensuring efficient use of energy in buildings.

The National Construction Code provides national consistency by being the base technical document for the design and construction of buildings, and setting the minimum technical standards for safety, health, amenity and sustainability.

In this article, we address the frequently asked questions regarding the application and how the National Construction Code affects buildings, including:

What is the National Construction Code (NCC)?

The National Construction Code is formally described by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) as a performance-based building code that sets minimum building standards and requirements:

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

What are the objectives when the National Construction Code is drafted by the Australian Building Codes Board?

When preparing or drafting the National Construction Code (NCC), the Australian Building Codes Board (ACBC) take into consideration the following regulatory objectives that are thematically summarised and listed:

ObjectivesSummary of Objectives
Rigorous TestingEnsure requirements have a rigorously tested rationale.
ProportionalityEffectively and proportionally address applicable issues.
BenefitCreate benefits to society that outweigh costs.
AlternativesConsider non-regulatory alternatives.
EffectConsider the competitive effects of regulation.
Not Unnecessary RestrictiveNot be unnecessarily restrictive.

At the same time, the National Construction Code is prepared for an intended audience as its primary users. Those primary users, include: architects, builders, plumbers, building surveyors, hydraulic consultants, engineers, and other buildings and plumbing related professions and trades.

What building classifications are assessed in the National Construction Code (NCC)?

In summary, the National Construction Code assesses ten different classes of buildings from Class 1 to Class 10 buildings. The ten classes of building are separated by their classifications and purpose that it is designed, constructed or adapted to be used.  Otherwise, the ten types of building classes may be summarily classed in general and broad terms as follows:

Building ClassesSummary
Class 1 buildingsClass 1 buildings have two sub-classifications.

The sub-classifications are Class 1a buildings and Class 1b buildings. Class 1a buildings may be characterised as single dwellings or houses, and Class 1b buildings are typically characterised as small guest or boarding houses.
Class 2 buildingsClass 2 buildings may be characterised as dwellings or apartments.
Class 3 buildingsClass 3 buildings may be characterised as hotels or motels.
Class 4 buildingsClass 4 buildings may be characterised as a single dwelling in a Class 5 to Class 9.
Class 5 buildingsClass 5 buildings may be characterised as offices.
Class 6 buildingsClass 6 buildings may be characterised as retail shops.
Class 7 buildingsThere are two sub-classifications in Class 7 buildings.

The sub-classifications are Class 7a buildings and Class 7b buildings.

Class 7a buildings may be characterised as carparks, and Class 7b buildings may be characterised as storage or display warehouses.
Class 8 buildingsA Class 8 building may be characterised as a laboratory or factory.
Class 9 buildingsClass 9 buildings have three sub-classifications.

The sub-classifications are Class 9a buildings, Class 9b buildings, and Class 9c buildings.

Class 9a buildings may be characterised as health-care buildings, Class 9b buildings may be characterised as assembly buildings and Class 9c buildings may be characterised as aged care buildings.
Class 10 buildingsThe sub-classifications are Class 10a buildings, Class 10b buildings, and Class 10c buildings.

Class 10a buildings may be characterised as non-habitable buildings, Class 10b buildings may be characterised as structures, and Class 10c buildings may be characterised as private bushfire shelters.

Read More: For further information about building classes, “What are building classes?”, provides an overview of the ten building classes prescribed in the National Construction Code (NCC).

What type of construction is required?

In Volume One of the National Construction Code, certain types of fire-resisting construction are prescribed for building classes 2 to 9. There are three types of construction: Type A, Type B and Type C. In general terms and having regard to any applicable exceptions, the minimum type of fire-resisting construction may be determined based on the National Construction Code’s Table C2D2 (Type of construction required):

Rise in StoreysBuilding Class 2, 3, 9Building Class 5, 6, 7, 8
4 or moreAA
3AB
2BC
1CC

What is Volume One, Volume Two and Volume Three of the National Construction Code (NCC)?

The National Construction Code (NCC) is divided into three Volumes, and prescribes the following summaries for Volume One, Volume Two and Volume Three:

VolumesSummary
Volume OneVolume One is intended to cover the design and construction of multi-residential, commercial, industrial and public assembly buildings and associated structures.
Volume TwoVolume Two is intended to cover the design and construction of smaller scale buildings, including: houses, small sheds, carports and associated structures.
Volume ThreeVolume Three is intended to cover the design, construction, maintenance of plumbing, and drainage systems in new and existing buildings.

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Volume One of the National Construction Code

In Volume One, the overall layout of that Volume lists nine sections, with the first section, Section A (Governing Requirements), setting out the administrative requirements.

After section A (Governing Requirements), the other eight sections in Volume One describe the technical construction requirements. In summary, these sections are thematically set out below:

SectionsSummary
Section BStructure
Section CFire Resistance
Section DAccess and Egress
Section EServices and Equipment
Section GHealth and Amenity
Section IAncillary Provisions
Section JSpecial Use Buildings

In each section relating to technical construction requirements, the section is further divided into the following parts: Objectives, Functional Statements, Performance Requirements, Verification Methods, and Deemed to Satisfy Provisions.

Volume Two of the National Construction Code

In Volume Two, the structure of the layout is different to Volume One with the overall layout of Volume 2 listing only two sections. In summary, the two sections contained in Volume Two, are:

SectionsSummary
Section AGoverning Requirements
Section HClass 1 and 10 buildings

In each sub-section of Section H, the layout of a section is generally divided into parts: Objectives, Functional Statements, Performance Requirements, Verification Methods, Deemed to Satisfy Provisions.

Volume Three of the National Construction Code

In Volume Three of the National Construction Code, the structure of the layout is different to Volume One and Volume Two. In summary, there are five sections contained in Volume Three, and they are:

SectionsSummary
Section AGoverning Requirements
Section BWater Services
Section CSanitary Plumbing and Drainage Systems
Section DExcessive Noise
Section EFacilities and Ancillary Additions

In each sub-section of sections, A to E, the layout of a section is generally divided into parts: Objectives, Functional Statements, Performance Requirements, Verification Methods, Deemed to Satisfy Provisions

As a performance-based code, the National Construction Code (NCC) prescribes minimum level of standards that must be met, however, also has flexibility if compliance can be otherwise demonstrated.

For further information about the Building Code of Australia, and the National Construction Code:

How is compliance achieved with the National Construction Code (NCC)?

To comply with the National Construction Code, this can be achieved by complying with both, the Governing Requirements and Performance Requirements. In summary, Performance Requirements are technical requirements that must be complied with. Performance Requirements may be complied with either innovative Performance Solutions, prescriptive Deemed to Satisfy Solutions, or a combination of both.

The compliance structure of the Performance Requirement is shown by the below diagram demonstrating that compliance solutions is obtainable either by Performance Solution, Deemed to Satisfy Solution, or both:

NCC Compliance Structure

The sections in Volume One and Volume Two of the National Construction Code (NCC) that describe the requirements for complying with Performance Requirements are set out as follows:

VolumesSections
Volume OneSections B to J
Volume TwoSection H
Volume ThreeSections B to E

In summary, Volume One and Volume Two of the National Construction Code (NCC) are intended to address the technical requirements across the different ten classes of buildings, with Volume One generally for residential builds, and Volume Two, generally for commercial builds. Volume Three addresses the technical requirements for plumbing and drainage systems.

Read More: For further information relating to minimum compliance requirements prescribed in the National Construction Code (NCC), “What are performance requirements in construction?” provides an overview on Performance Requirements.

Notes and Further Information

For further information on Victoria’s building legislative and regulatory framework, other topics that are explored include:

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

If you are looking for legal expertise and have any questions, connect with an author or a member of our building and construction team.

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

You can also connect with us by filling out your details and telling us about your information for legal advice below:

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

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