National Construction Code Update
The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) released the new National Construction Code (NCC) Series in March 2011.
NCC 2011 is made up of three Volumes and two supplementary documents:
- Volume One Building Code of Australia Class 2 to 9 Buildings
- Volume Two Building Code of Australia Class 1 & Class 10 Buildings
- Volume Three Plumbing Code of Australia
The supplementary documents are:
- Guide to Volume One Class 2 to 9 Buildings
- Volume One - Appendices Variations and Additions
Plumbing Code of Australia
The National Plumbing Regulators Forum (NPRF), a co-operative arrangement between State and Territory plumbing regulators, had a mission in the late 1990s to provide a more flexible framework that encouraged and assisted co-ordinated plumbing regulatory arrangements across Australia. The goal of the NPRF was to develop an acceptable standard of plumbing that provided for public health, safety and amenity, resource and environmental conservation, and sustainability. As a result the PCA was developed with the assistance of the ABCB in early 2002. The Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA) was published in 2004, however only five of the eight States and Territories adopted it, either in full or part, as a regulatory document.
In 2009, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to the development of an NCC, incorporating all on-site construction requirements into a single code. The new NCC, initially comprising building and plumbing requirements — through the BCA and PCA — will be expanded in future to also include gasfitting, electrical and telecommunications. It was decided that plumbing requirements would be the first to be included with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and PCA 2004 was the obvious starting point.
Following a review by a joint ABCB and NPRF working group in 2010 the new PCA 2011 was developed and published by the ABCB.
About the PCA
The PCA is a regulatory policy document comprised of a combination of administrative and technical sections and includes a separate appendix for each State and Territory.
Section A is possibly the most important section as it sets out the general provisions and explains the structure of the Code. Sections B to F contain the technical performance requirements for water services, sanitary plumbing and drainage systems, stormwater, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, and on-site wastewater treatment systems. Each of the sections B to F includes a Scope, Objectives, Functional Statements, Performance Requirements and Deemed-to-Satisfy (DtS) Provisions. The DtS predominantly direct the user to referenced technical documents for their technical solutions.
Section G of the Code contains the procedures for certification of plumbing and drainage products for authorised use in new installations, alterations, additions, and replacements or repairs to existing installations. It predominantly targets manufacturers and suppliers seeking to have a product or system approved under the WaterMark Certification Scheme.
The future of the PCA
The ABCB has responsibility for the ongoing maintenance and future development of the PCA on behalf of the Australian Government and each State and Territory Government. To assist the ABCB in the development of the PCA, the ABCB Board has established a new technical advisory committee, the Plumbing Code Committee (PCC). The PCC is chaired by a senior ABCB officer and secretarial support is provided by the ABCB Office.
Membership includes a nominated representative from the Australian and each State and Territory government and additional representation from the wider plumbing and building industries. Industry membership is drawn from:
- Master Plumbers Australia and Master Builders Australia
- Property Council of Australia
- Housing Industry Association
- Plumbing Products Industry Group
- Engineers Australia
- Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authority
- Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating
- Standards Australia
The committee was constituted and first convened in Canberra in March 2011. The first working meeting of the committee was held in Perth April 2011 and at that meeting a number of matters were identified for Board consideration for the future work program.
Continuing development of the PCA is proposed with improvement to consistency, clarity and alignment with the Building Code of Australia.
The National Construction Code, incorporating the Plumbing Code of Australia, will provide a flexible solution to meeting the goals of plumbing, providing a consistent and clear path to achieving quality outcomes. This will be a new era for the plumbing industry in Australia.
The States and Territories have agreed to adopt the NCC into their respective legislation by October 2012 subject to any transitional arrangements.