NCC 2019 Amendment 1 update

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The National Construction Code (NCC) has been amended out-of-cycle prior to NCC 2022. This video contains information related to NCC 2019 Amendment 1 presented at the 2020 NCC Seminars.

NCC 2019 Volume One Amendment 1 is expected to be adopted by all States and Territories from 1 July 2020.


Hello, my name is Graham Moss, I'm from the Australian Building Codes Board, and this is an update as of March 2020, of what is included in NCC 2019 Amendment 1.

Amendment 1 is an out of cycle amendment to NCC 2019. The current edition right now is NCC 2019, the next edition will be NCC 2019 Amendment 1. There are a number of changes included in that amendment, perhaps most notably changes relating to childcare centres in multi-story buildings, and changes that respond to recommendations of the Building Confidence Report, also known as the Shergold Weir report.

The adoption date for NCC 2019 Amendment 1 is 1st July 2020. You can view a preview of the amendment on our website Here's what NCC 2019 Amendment 1 contains. As you can see by the icons: blue for Volume One, the red one for Volume Two and the green for Volume Three, some of these changes appear in all three volumes, there's two in Volume One and the last one there is in Volume Two.

Over the next little while I'm going to take you through the details of these changes. But before we do start, I need to point out something important. When the adoption date 1 July 2020 comes, these two changes here may be different. They might not even be in the amendment at all. That's A2.2 the Performance-based design process and the Schedule 3 Definitions: Building complexity. When we run a normal amendment to the NCC there is a set process with a critical path where one thing normally follows another and that takes time.

This particular amendment has occurred in a compressed timeframe, and because of that now, when I'm showing you these amendments, there are yet some decisions to be made for these two items. What I'm about to show you might be different, or these changes might even not go ahead. I can't tell you for sure but it's entirely possible that these will be in NCC 2019 Amendment 1 so it's a good idea to cover them today. Let me tell you the background to these changes.

Australia's building ministers commissioned an independent review of compliance and enforcement systems in the Australian building industry. They agreed, building ministers agreed with what the review said, and have agreed to implement the recommendations of the report that came out of that review. Among other things, that report found, that there was a culture of poorly documented Performance Solutions and improved oversight of building projects would be beneficial. So that led to some of changes that we are proposing for Amendment 1 including a proposed addition to the Governing Requirements, the Performance-based design process.

The Performance-based design process isn't new. For some time now we the ABCB, have been encouraging practitioners to do this every time you use performance. It's the four step process that you use when coming up with a performance solution, where step one all the people who should have a say in the Performance Solution get together and discuss the proposed solution and how it should be demonstrated if it complies or not. And then the work happens that's step two, the results are analysed, step three, and performance is or isn't demonstrated, and then the report is written step four. That's not new.

What's new is this. But like I said earlier, this is subject to a final decision that's yet to be made. A2.2 here is an existing provision in the Governing Requirements, and parts one to three are about what a Performance Solution is and how it must be verified. This new part, part four, which I have on the screen right here, is a requirement to undertake the four step process. Sub-clause (a) is step one, sub-clause (b) is step two you get the idea. And just as it's always been, this is commensurate with the complexity and the importance of the Performance Solution.

If you have a simple Performance Solution, then the final report could only be a few pages long. If it's a complex fire-engineering report involving modelling, then the report will be thicker. What the report will always do are these items listed under (d). First is going to name which Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions aren't being complied with, and what Performance Requirements the solution is proposed to comply with. It's going to tell you which Assessment Methods are being used and is going to prove that performance requirement has been met.

But before anyone writes the final report, you have to do step one, that's the Performance-based design brief. On this slide here you see the defined term for Performance-based design brief. It’s been modified in Amendment 1 to accommodate these new provisions.

What we're doing is to requiring that everyone involved agrees to the scope of performance solution and how compliance will be demonstrated and documented before the analysis takes place. And again as to do with is commensurate with the Performance Solution if it’s simple and the report only a few pages. The Performance-based design brief might only take a few emails or a conference call. For a complex Performance Solutions, we would likely involve a sit-down meeting.

Whatever it is, agreement about the proposed solution is made and documented before the analysis takes place. And that's a good idea and if this part four is adopted in NCC 2019 Amendment 1, it would be a mandatory idea. Like I said it’s yet to be shown, the final decision on this is yet to be made so please have a look at NCC 2019 Amendment 1, to see if it is in or not.

The next change to discuss is a new provision in the Governing Requirements A5.7, Labelling of Aluminium Composite Panels. This one will be in 2019 Amendment 1, and because it's part of the Governing Requirements, it will be in all Volumes of the NCC, including the PCA. The effect of the change is this. Every time the NCC applies to an Aluminium Composite Panel, then that panel must be labelled.

What's an Aluminium Composite Panel? Well that's defined as you can on the screen here. Its Aluminium sheet material produced in composite with anything else; polymer core, honeycomb core, it doesn't matter if it's aluminium sheet faced, then it’s an Aluminium Composite Panel and it needs to be labelled. And as you can see the labelling is described in a reference standard, Standards Australia Technical Specification 5344.

It was published last year it's called Permanent Labelling for Aluminium Composite Panel Products and it does exactly what it says on the cover. It tells you what an ACP label must look like and that's something like this. Now don't worry this doesn't have to be on the front of the panel and it doesn't have to be big either.

The minimum character size is 5mm so you can do all this in the size of a business card. What the label does do is that it needs to say at least what you see here on the screen. Who the manufacturer is, what model panel it is, when it was manufactured and how it can be traced such as by having a batch number.

This new requirement comes in NCC 2019 Amendment 1. Next change for NCC 2019 Amendment 1 is a new defined term, Building complexity. Like A2.2 Performance-based design process, this may or may not be included in the amendment, so when NCC 2019 Amendment 1 is adopted 1st July 2020, check to see if this part's in. But for now, it's in the draught amendment and it's in the preview of available on our website right now and it’s in Schedule 3 definitions, so it appears in all three volumes.

What is building complexity? Well in essence, it's a rating scale, which starts at 0 and goes to 5. Simple buildings like most houses, get a rating of zero, but it’s possible to have a house that's building complexity 1. I'll tell you more on that later. Large and complex buildings have higher ratings like 3 and 4. And level 5 is reserved for hazardous facility buildings, or post-disaster buildings like this hospital. Now don't take this slide literally, the hospital is definitely a level 5, but the others here it’s not so clear-cut. It's true that as buildings get larger they are likely to have a higher building complexity rating, but for levels 0 to 4 there are a number of things that contribute to complexity and those are: Complication, organisation, and the number and the vulnerability of the occupants. And how the rating system works is this.

For every one of these criteria that you see on the slide, for each of these criteria that your building triggers, you get a point. If you trigger none of these criteria then your level is 0. If you trigger all four, your level is 4. Let me show you what these criteria are. First is Complication. You get a point towards your complexity level if you trigger any of these. Your effective height exceeds 50m, then your building is complicated. Your house is in a bushfire prone area, then you get a point also. My house has a complexity level of zero it's likely that yours is too. But if you pick up and put it in a BAL flame zone, your complexity level becomes 1. Now note that even if your building is all of these things, you still only count one point towards your complexity level. You could have a 100m skyscraper with a performance solution for structural robustness located in a flame zone, and you only need to count one point for the complication criteria.

The next criteria is Organisation. This criteria is about the procurement of your building, and also any special maintenance or testing requirements. Like if you have a fire-engineered performance solution which uses a non-standard detection system which has special testing requirements, then it’s likely you scored a point on the organisation criteria.

The next criteria is the number of occupants. If you have more than 100 occupants, then that's a point. The next criteria is Vulnerability. If more than 10 of those 100 occupants are vulnerable, they need help to egress or assistance with the daily living activities, then that's a point as well. This would catch child care centres, aged care facilities and buildings like that.

So that's how the building complexity level works. Once we have a complexity level, what do we do with it? Well, at the moment, nothing. As you can see by this note provided with the definition, this term is currently not used in the NCC. There are no BCA or PCA provisions which rely on building complexity. So why are we putting it in the BCA? is the natural question that follows.

Well, I mentioned this report earlier, the Building Confidence report and that one of the findings of the report was that in some cases better oversight of buildings is a good thing. And oversight, of course, needs to be commensurate with the nature and complexity of the building. I've got a shed in my backyard, it doesn't need increased oversight. But there's buildings such as the building I'm in right now which is somewhat more complicated than my shed, and so increased oversight wouldn't go astray.

So we developed the building complexity level system to identify the complexity of buildings, and by placing it in the NCC we'll have a nationally consistent way of identifying the complexity of buildings. This definition can then be picked up by state and territory legislation, or even by future NCC provisions, in order to achieve better oversight of complex buildings.

What does that oversight looks like? We don't know yet, it hasn't been developed, but what we do have here for NCC 2019 Amendment 1 should this go ahead is a defined term which will provide a nationally consistent way of arriving at a building complexity level.

This next change, in fact all of the changes that I'll show you from here on in this presentation, have been through their processes and are in Amendment 1. This one is about the concession for Class 2 and 3 buildings so that's apartment buildings and hotel type buildings, which are three stories or less, and it’s the concession which let you use timber framing despite other requirements found in Section C.

The concession appears twice in Specification C1.1. It's in Clause 3, as you see here, for Type A buildings. It's also in Clause 4 for Type B buildings. And it's been in the NCC for some time, but what we've done for Amendment 1 is removed some ambiguity and made clear what the concession allows you to do. And in a nutshell, looking at 3.10 here, you've got a number of material requirements for Type A buildings. So you have C1.9(a) and (b) which require a number of building elements to be non-combustible, such as external walls, shafts including lift shafts and other things. You've also got C2.6 on this slide. C2.6 wants spandrels protecting external openings in Type A buildings to be non-combustible.

You've also got 3.1(d) that says a number of building elements, including load-bearing internal walls and load-bearing fire walls, have to be made out of concrete or masonry, or in certain circumstances something called fire-protected timber which is different from timber that this concession speaks of. So these are all provisions that would prevent the use of conventional timber framing if it weren't for this concession. Now I just want to focus for a moment on how this concession works. It uses this word to affect the concession, notwithstanding.

Fun fact, the word notwithstanding currently occurs 23 times in Volume One, and when used in the NCC it basically translates as 'despite what it says in'. So, despite what it says in C1.9(a) about external walls needing to be non-combustible you can use timber framing. Or, despite what it says in 3.1(d) about having to use concrete or masonry, you can use timber framing. Incidentally, because of (ii)(B), also as you can see in this concession you can use non-combustible framing in conjunction with timber framing, or non-combustible framing all on its own. But see what the word notwithstanding is doing, it's setting a boundary about how much of each provision is set aside and of course that's only as far as the provision prevents the use of conventional timber framing.

So C1.9(a) applies to everything else, and the cladding for example has to be non-combustible in the external wall even though this concession permits the framing to be timber. You'll find this clarification amendment in 2019 Amendment 1. This is another change D1.18 Egress from early childhood centres. That's another change in 2019 Amendment 1 and it’s a rather important amendment. The thing to remember as shown by this defined term that early childhood centres are defined, this new requirement isn't for primary school after-care or the creche at church, it's for licenced centres providing childcare services under the relevant legislation.

Here's the new provision for NCC 2019 Amendment 1. In short, under the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions, unless your early childhood centre is a stand-alone two storey building, then every storey has to have direct egress to outside. This is because is difficult to evacuate an early childhood centre especially when there's stairs involved. And it’s more difficult again if those stairs are shared with other building occupants.

This doesn't prevent early childhood centres on upper levels of multi-storey buildings but what it does do is make it necessary to use a Performance Solution in those circumstances, so that a fire engineer can demonstrate that all occupants can be safely evacuated. The vast majority of early childhood centres in Australia are single storey buildings located at ground level. They have direct egress, and that sort of design isn't affected by this change.

Sometimes they are a two-storey building like the first building on the left, and they are the only use in that building. Although there's stairs involved, the early childhood centre is the only use in that building so evacuation is still relatively easy to co-ordinate. You can continue to use the Deemed-to -Satisfy Provisions for these early childhood centres.

The example in the middle on the slide has the early childhood centre on the ground floor of a multi-use building. So long as that centre is wholly within that egress level, then that also is a Deemed-to-Satisfy solution. But, as soon as that early childhood centre loses direct egress, like the example on the right, then it doesn't comply with D1.18 and so a performance solution is required.

Of course, if direct egress can be provided say by the landform or maybe a ramp, or a combination of both, then this becomes Deemed-to-Satisfy solution. You'll find this change in NCC 2019 Amendment 1. The last change in 2019 Amendment 1 that I have for you today is in Volume Two, Part and it’s to do with anti-ponding boards. In case you don't know what an anti-ponding board is, you can see in the diagram here it's that board or device which is placed just above the gutter and just up from that last batten closest to the gutter.

What is does it holds up the sarking and prevents it from sagging, so that any water that gets under the roof covering continues to flow into the gutter instead of ponding upstream of the last batten. Anti-ponding boards are good idea and in Volume Two, in certain circumstances they're required. This is the relevant provision as it currently stands in NCC 2019. If you have an eave, a sarked roof and a pitch less than 20 degrees, then you need to have an anti-ponding board.

This is because at shallow roof angles ponding is more likely to happen. So that's (a)(i) in the provision. Have a look now at (a)(ii). As it's currently written, if you have no eaves overhang, you have to have an anti-ponding board, even if you don't have sarking. So you might ask why would you install a thing to hold up something that isn't there? That's a good question, and there's no good answer, so in Amendment 1, looks like this. And in the lead-in for (a), you see that the lead-in for (a) ensures that these anti-ponding board requirements only apply to roofs where sarking is installed. This is a chance that you'll find in NCC 2019 Amendment 1.

We're now up to covering some details about NCC 2019, the current edition of the NCC. However, as most of you know, when this was introduced last year, it was introduced with a transition period for energy efficiency provisions, and also a delayed adoption for the Fire Safety Verification Method. In other words, the Fire Safety Verification Method isn't a part of the NCC yet at the time of recording. And, at the moment, instead of using NCC 2019 for the energy efficiency provisions of Section J or Part 3.12, you can use the relevant parts of the previous edition of NCC 2016 Amendment 1. But all that changes very soon.

On the 1st of May 2020, you must update to the current energy efficiency provisions, because the transition period runs out on the 30th of April. And the Fire Safety Verification Method is enacted on the 1st of May. I want to talk about the Fire Safety Verification Method first. It's a Verification Method, so it's a way of creating a Performance Solution, and it's always optional, you don't have to do it. You can use the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions, or you could use a different type of Performance Solution. It's a very comprehensive Verification Method for Volume One Fire Safety provisions and it covers a very broad range of the fire safety Performance Requirements.

We're not going to go into detail about it in this presentation but we at the ABCB we very recently gave a series of webinars on the Fire Safety Verification Method. If you missed those don't worry they're available very soon and will be on our YouTube Channel, simply search up the Australian Building Codes Board on YouTube, or go through the resource library on our website Also in our resource library is a handbook on the Fire Safety Verification Method.

So if you find yourself using the Verification Method be sure to download the handbook. Similarly, I'm not going to go into detail today about the NCC 2019 Energy Efficiency provisions, which come into effect very shortly on account of the end of the transition period. But if you need to know more, last year, in association with the Property Council of Australia, we the ABCB ran briefing sessions on the commercial energy efficiency provisions.

If you go to our website resource library or our YouTube channel, search up Section J transformed and you will find a video of that briefing. Before we lay the topic of energy efficiency, I'll set through a few slides about heating and cooling load limits. Heating and cooling loads are both in both Volumes, Volume One and Two. In Volume One it's J0.2 and it applies heating and cooling load limits to Class 2 and 4 sole occupancy units. And here it is on the slide that what it looks like in Volume Two, The change is the same for both Volumes.

This provision is the provision that sets out the star rating that you must achieve if you use NatHERS software. And the 2019 version differs from the 2016 version in this way. Besides meeting the star rating, you also have to check the heating and cooling load limits separately. What does that mean? Well, you achieve your star rating like you've always done and what a star rating is, it’s a measure of how the total energy consumed by a dwelling over a year measures against a set benchmark. In moderate climates this makes sense because you more-or-less spend half your energy in winter and the other half of your energy cooling in summer.

However the star rating doesn't take into account residences in very hot or very cold climates which use practically all their energy in the heating or the cooling. So we've introduced some maximum heating and maximum cooling values that align with the Performance Requirements of the NCC. You'll find them in this standard. It's freely available on our website. Every NatHERS certificate shows the star rating, and it also shows the heating load and the cooling load. All you need to do is check that you reach six stars or whatever the NCC is requiring you to reach, and then for your climate area check the heating value, and the cooling value shown on your certificate to see if they are lower than the values shown in this standard.

Something to note, there's a lot of climate areas in this standard where instead of a limit it says N/A not applicable. If that's the case then it doesn't matter and you're good to go without checking that limit. Now this might seem like a big change but in effect it isn't. It really only affects a small number of poor performing houses in the hottest and coldest climate zones in Australia about 5% from each. And that statistic is based on an analysis of over 170,000 real-world building approvals. What we're doing is bringing those poorest performing houses into line with the Performance Requirements of the NCC.

This has been an update to NCC 2019 Amendment 1 but also an update to the end of the transition period for Energy Efficiency provisions and the enactment date for the Fire Safety Verification Method for NCC 2019. My name is Graham Moss, from the Australian Building Codes Board, thank you.

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