The focus of this video is the purpose, structure and contents of the NCC.


Understanding the NCC. NCC Tutor Series. 

This course is best viewed with a copy of the NCC on hand – to access the NCC, visit and register or log in to access it freely. 

In this module you will learn: 

  • What the NCC is and what it contains. 

  • How the NCC is organized. 

  • Important terms used in the NCC. 

  • Contents of common sections of the NCC’s three volumes. 

  • How the NCC is maintained and the role of the ABCB. 

  • And other useful resources. 

What is the National Construction Code or NCC? 

The development of a national regulatory code for building and construction was an initiative of the Council of Australian Governments or COAG. COAG is comprised of all State and Territory governments and the Australian government all working in cooperation with the construction industry.  

Specifically, the first nationally consistent Building Code of Australia or BCA was published in 1992.  

The performance-based BCA was released in 1996.  

The Plumbing Code of Australia or PCA was introduced in 2011. 

So, the full three Volume National Construction Code has been in existence since 2011, but parts of it were established in 1992 and it took on a performance-based nature from 1996. 

The aim of the NCC is to make compliant building and construction simpler by gathering most of the minimum on-site requirements into one place and increasing consistency across the country. 

The NCC covers not just structural but any other safety issues as well as health and safety, amenity, accessibility and sustainability, such as energy and water efficiency. 

Why do we regulate building and plumbing work in Australia?  

The primary purpose of this is to protect people. Regulating building and plumbing work helps protect the occupants inside a building as well as people outside a building during its construction, its operational life and even its demolition. 

Regulating building and plumbing work can help mitigate risks to: 

  • Life safety. For example, when regulation of building work prevents the structural collapse of a building, or the risk of fire in a building.  

  • It can be used to protect health, amenity and accessibility. For example, managing issues such as dampness, lighting, ventilation and sound transmission, through to sanitation and appropriate access to and within a building. 

  • Energy and water security through minimum sustainability requirements through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency improvements, and through the conservation of water in buildings. 

Regulation can also be used to increase the resilience of buildings to extreme weather events. 

Regulation also aids governments in facilitating acceptable levels of risk. Societal cost‐versus‐benefit analysis can be used to determine whether regulation is necessary to address risks or issues. 

Where appropriate, regulation can also be used to establish minimum necessary standards. 

The way building regulation works in Australia. 

The Australian constitution gives the States and Territories general responsibility for regulating building and plumbing activities within each jurisdiction. 

Each State and Territory enacts legislation and regulations to regulate building and construction in that State or Territory. The result is eight separate systems through the country, although it’s worth noting that all eight are quite similar in many ways. 

Typically, each State or Territory has at least one Act relating to building and construction. These Acts also have regulations that contain the arrangements for different matters. A key difference, for example, between a Regulation and Act is that an Act may only be changed through a vote of parliament or a legislative body, while generally the appropriate Minister can make changes to regulations. So the distinction between the Act and the Regulations is a legal one that makes it easier and quicker to change elements of the administration of the law when it’s necessary. 

Now there are a number of different aspects in relation to regulation. 

Regulatory systems are generally made up of two types of regulation – both administrative and technical. 

Administrative regulations are essential for the running of any efficient regulatory system.  They might include considerations such as: 

  • the powers and responsibilities of the parties involved  

  • assessment procedures 

  • referrals, objections and appeals 

  • the inspection and certification process 

  • offences and penalties 

  • registration and licensing of certain categories of practitioners, and  

  • the formal adoption of the NCC as the source of technical regulation.  

Technical regulations generally cover two areas: 

  • Firstly, Building site requirements which include issues such as the protection of an adjoining property, hoardings to protect the public, signage for hazardous materials, buildings health and safety, waste management, and environmental controls on building sites. 

  • The second is, Design and construction requirements. These apply directly to buildings and structures themselves. These requirements are brought into legal force by the relevant State and Territory legislation, but each State and Territory has adopted the NCC as the primary reference document for design and construction requirements. So, this means that rather than legislating all the individual requirements for design and construction in separate legislation, each State or Territory has an Act that adopts the NCC as the regulatory document for building and construction in that jurisdiction. 

There are other regulations that can also apply to building projects, including those relating to planning processes including heritage concerns, environmental controls, workplace health and safety, noise management and hazardous materials storage and use. 

The NCC volumes. 

The NCC comprises three Volumes: 

Volume One covers primarily Class 2 to 9 buildings. These are mostly used by the commercial building sector. In some of the provisions of Volume One are also applicable to certain Class 1 buildings. 

Volume Two covers primarily Class 1 and Class 10 buildings. These are known as the ‘Housing Provisions’ and are mostly used by the domestic building, or housing sector.  

Volumes One and Two together are also referred to as the Building Code of Australia or BCA. 

Volume Three covers plumbing and drainage requirements for all classes of buildings. It is also referred to as the Plumbing Code of Australia or PCA. 

The requirements of the NCC typically apply to each of the State or Territories and specifically  applies to: 

  • construction of new buildings 

  • new building work within existing buildings 

  • change of use of a building, for example an office block converted to apartments, or perhaps an old fire station that is converted to a B&B, or residence perhaps that is converted to a restaurant. 

Lastly, plumbing and drainage work in new and existing buildings is also covered. 

There is also a number of referenced documents within the NCC. The NCC references documents, such as various Australian Standards.  

When a document is referred to in the NCC, it has the same legal force as the NCC itself, so these referenced documents become regulatory documents themselves.  

So, for example, not all Australian Standards are mandatory standards that must always be complied with. But if an Australian Standard is referenced in the NCC, then compliance with that standard becomes mandatory, because it is required under the NCC. 

Let's look at the NCC compliance option graphic shown here and discuss the terms used here.  The top two levels of this graphic are found in Part A2 of the Governing Requirements. 

There are a number of key terms used in the NCC. 

The first is performance requirements. 

Performance Requirements specify a level to which some aspect of the design, construction or installation of the building, its plumbing or drainage must perform in order to be compliant.  

For example the building structure must be able to resist winds up to a certain force. A cold water service must avoid failure or uncontrolled discharge. The building envelope must minimise energy use to retain a comfortable temperature for the climate in which it is built. The building elements must resist the passage of smoke, heat and gases for a minimum period of time so that people can evacuate in a fire. 

The next term is a Performance Solution. 

A Performance Solution means a method of complying with the Performance Requirements other than by a Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution. A builder can use a solution other than a DTS Solution, but then must demonstrate how the Performance Solution complies with the relevant Performance Requirements.  

The next is Deemed-to-Satisfy or DTS Solutions. 

Deemed-to-Satisfy Solutions specify acceptable ways of meeting the Performance Requirements. In the law, to deem means to consider something as having certain characteristics. So, the DTS Solution is considered to meet the Performance Requirements, however it must be assessed using an Assessment Method. The DTS Solutions given in the NCC often reference Australian Standards or other standards and make use of common and well accepted building practices. 

The next is Assessment Methods.  

Assessment Methods are methods that can be used for determining that a Performance Solution or Deemed-to-Satisfy, or DTS Solution, complies with the Performance Requirements. Acceptable Assessment Methods are: 

  • Evidence of suitability 

  • Verification Methods, including methods described in the NCC Volumes and other acceptable methods. So, there are some Verification Methods included after the Performance Requirements in each of the different volumes and Sections of the NCC. 

  • The next is Expert Judgement 

  • And finally, comparison with DTS Provisions. 

Next is explanatory information. 

Explanatory information is non-mandatory information provided for guidance purposes only. It should be read in conjunction with the technical provisions of the NCC. It is not called up in State and Territory legislation, and never overrides the NCC provisions.  It appears in shaded boxes in the NCC with a heading that says “Explanatory information”, so that it is clear that these explanations are not part of the mandatory provisions. 

How are the volumes of the NCC organised? 

The first Section in  all three Volumes of the NCC contain the Governing Requirements, which are the same in all three volumes.  In Volume One and Volume Three the Governing Requirements are “Section A”, while in Volume Two this section is “Section 1”. But the information contained within the Governing Requirements is exactly the same across the three volumes. This includes information on building classifications and the status of referenced documents. 

The Governing Requirements are mandatory. This means that to design and build in compliance with the NCC’s requirements, you must apply and comply with the Governing Requirements, as well as the relevant requirements in other sections of the relevant volumes. 

Most of the text in the Schedules is identical across the three Volumes, but there are some differences relating to State and Territory specific requirements.  

The rest of this module looks at the contents of the Governing Requirements and the Schedules in more detail, because these are both more or less the same across all three volumes. 

The other sections of the NCC (besides the Governing Requirements) contain the various provisions that must be met when building in Australia. These provisions cover many different aspects of building, from the structure, to design of spaces, to the materials used, to the fittings and services installed in buildings. 

The three volumes of the NCC have varying numbers of other sections: 

  • Volume One has eight other Sections. 

  • Volume Two has two other Sections. 

  • Volume Three has four other Sections. 

The information in these Sections is organised differently across these volumes. 

The structure of Volume One is similar to the structure of Volume Three, with the Performance Requirements, Verification Methods and DTS Provisions grouped across different sections.  

Volume Two has a different structure, with Performance Requirements and Verification Methods compiled together in one section and the DTS Provisions in a separate section.  

The details of the contents of the various other sections of the three Volumes, are discussed in other training modules. 

So, this module focuses on understanding the structure and purpose of the NCC and on using and interpreting the content that is common across the three volumes of the NCC. 

What do the governing requirements contain? 

The Governing Requirements provide the rules and instructions for using and complying with the NCC. Its content is considered mandatory. 

Compliance with the NCC includes compliance with the Governing Requirements. These represent over-arching requirements that apply to all buildings and all types of construction. 

It is therefore important to understand the content of the Governing Requirements and to refer to it when necessary, to check that you are applying the requirements of the NCC correctly. 

Part A1 Interpreting the NCC.  

Part A1 explains important concepts for interpreting and applying the NCC, including distinguishing between mandatory and non-mandatory or informative content, interpreting defined terms, understanding Application, Limitation and Exemption statements in the NCC, 

Understanding references to buildings generally and to buildings of particular classifications. 

Part A2 Compliance with the NCC 

There are multiple ways of complying with the requirements of the NCC, which are: 

  • using a Performance Solution 

  • using a Deemed-to-Satisfy or DTS Solution 

  • using a combination of a Performance Solution and a DTS Solution. 

Part A2 explains these different methods for complying with the NCC. 

Part A3 Application of the NCC in States and Territories 

The NCC has legal force throughout Australia, and through references in relevant State and Territory building and plumbing legislation. 

In some situations, a State or Territory enforces a variation, addition or deletion to the NCC. 

Part A3 explains the legal status of the NCC and State and Territory variations, additions or deletions. 

Variations are flagged in the text and in Schedule 1 of each volume. 

Part A4 NCC Referenced documents 

The NCC references other technical documents extensively. 

Examples are Australian Standards, ABCB Protocols, ABCB Standards and other publications. 

Part A4 explains the status of these documents, for example: 

  • where to find edition information 

  • what to do when there are differences between referenced documents and the NCC 

  • adoption and compliance with referenced documents. 

Part A5 Documentation of design and construction 

It may be necessary to demonstrate that a particular material, product, form of construction or design meets the NCC requirements and is fit for purpose. 

Evidence can include certificates, reports, Product Technical Statements, a WaterMark Licence, calculations and other documentation. 

Part A5 describes the particular forms that evidence of suitability can take for the different Volumes of the NCC. 

Part A6 Building classification 

Building classification determines which requirements must be complied with, and which volumes of the NCC must be referenced.  

Classification depends on the building’s intended use and characteristics. 

Part A6: Defines all the NCC building classifications and sub-classifications, includes explanatory information and helpful diagrams to illustrate the defining characteristics of different building classifications. 

Part A7 United buildings 

Multiple buildings may be treated as united buildings if they are: 

  • connected through openings in the walls dividing them, and 

  • used as a single building. 

Together they must comply with all the requirements of the NCC as though they are a single building. 

This has implications for a range of Performance Requirements, in particular around fire safety, access and egress, and health and amenity. 

Part A7 provides discussion of united buildings and examples of different treatments. 

This is not included in NCC Volume Two. 

Let's test our knowledge of some key terms in Part A1 to their meanings. Four terms are given here: Exemption, Limitation, Note and Application. Which meaning on the left applies to each of these? 

Match each term from Part A1 to its meaning. 

True or False? According to the  Governing Requirements, the NCC is the paramount building and plumbing legislation in all Australian States and Territories, and cannot be overridden by any other legislation. 

Which takes precedence – the NCC or a referenced document, if there is a difference? 

Click on the blue diamond you believe is the correct answer. 

According to the Governing Requirements, the allowable evidence of the suitability for Volumes One and Two is different. 

What do the schedules contain? 

Schedule 1 State and Territory Additions and Variations 

Schedule 1 contains the details of additions and variations to the provisions within the NCC. 

There is a section for each State or Territory. 

Details of changes are given, including additions, deletions, and changes to wording. 

In Volumes One and Three, the body of the document provides a reference to the variations in Schedule 1, but does not contain the actual text of the variation. 

In Volume Two, the details of variations are given in the body of the document, as well as in Schedule 1.  

Schedule 2 Abbreviations and symbols 

Schedule 2 contains a list of the abbreviations and symbols used in the NCC with their meanings. The list is exactly the same in all three Volumes. 

Schedule 3 Definitions 

Schedule 3 contains a list of defined terms, and their definitions. A defined term has a precise meaning in the NCC, which may not be exactly the same as what it means when used for other purposes. 

Defined terms are italicised in the text of the NCC. 

This includes maps and tables of alpine areas, climate zones and wind classes, and some illustrative diagrams. 

The list of defined terms and definitions is exactly the same in all three Volumes. 

Schedule 4 Referenced documents 

Schedule 4 contains a table that lists: All the Australian Standards, ABCB Protocols, ABCB Standards and other documents referenced in the NCC. It also contains lists where each document is referenced in the three Volumes of the NCC. 

Referenced Documents in Schedule 4 contains documents listed in the following order: 

  • Australian/New Zealand/ISO Standards, in number order 

  • other referenced documents, in alphabetical order. 

The list of referenced documents is exactly the same in all three Volumes. 

Schedule 5 Fire-resistance of building elements 

Schedule 5 contains procedures for calculating the fire-resistance level (or FRL) of building elements. 

The content of this Schedule is exactly the same in all three Volumes. 

Schedule 6 Fire hazard properties 

Schedule 6 sets out the procedures for determining the fire hazard properties of assemblies tested to AS/NZS 1530.3  and AS/NZS 1530.4. 

The content of this Schedule is exactly the same in all three Volumes. 

Schedule 7 Fire Safety Verification Method 

Schedule 7 can be used to verify that a Performance Solution achieves the requirements of the relevant fire safety Performance Requirements for Volume One. It covers multiple Performance Requirements for fire safety.

Its use is not mandatory and it may not be suitable in some situations. 

The content of this Schedule is exactly the same in all three Volumes. 

Interpreting the NCC schedules. 

Let's have a go at using the NCC Schedules by answering the following questions. After reading the question, pause this presentation and see if you can find the answer in the relevant NCC schedule. Write down the answers, then resume the presentation to find out the answer. 

Question 1  

In NCC Volume One, Clause C-1.1, Type of construction required describes the type of construction required in different types of buildings. In which State or Territory are there variations to this clause and where would you find the details of these variations? 


Question 2 

What do the following abbreviations mean, when they are used within the NCC: 

  • AS 

  • HS 

  • RSET  

  • SHGC 


Question 3   

In which States or Territories can you find areas designated as alpine areas according to the NCC? 


Question 4   

What is the difference between the terms waterproof and water resistant, as they are used within the NCC? 


Question 5 

In which Volumes of the NCC are the following Australian Standards referenced: 

  • AS/NZS4600 Cold-form steel structures? 

  • AS2049 Roof tiles? 

  • AS/NZS 3500 Part 4 Plumbing and drainage, heated water services? 


Question 6   

What can the Fire Safety Verification Method in Schedule 7 be used for, and who is qualified to use it? 


Match the Part in the Governing Requirements to its contents… 

True or False? Compliance with the provisions within the Governing Requirements is mandatory. 

Match the Schedules to their contents… 

How is the NCC maintained? 

The NCC is amended and reissued on a regular schedule to provide certainty for users who rely upon it.  

The regular schedule is 3 years but since starting this schedule, minor amendments have been made within this schedule to respond to Ministerial priorities. 

In the past, the NCC was amended every 6 months, and then annually. But industry considered this too frequent; as it did not give them sufficient time to prepare for the changes before they were introduced. 

In 2015, the nine Governments (that being the State and Territory Governments and the Australian (Federal) Government) agreed to extend the amendment cycle to every three years to give industry appropriate lead time to find out about and prepare for the new NCC before it was introduced. 

There is provision for the NCC to be amended outside of this regular cycle to address urgent issues. This only occurs in rare circumstances and only if the justification for the amendment meets strict criteria. When this occurs, it is known as an ‘out of cycle amendment’. 

The role of the ABCB 

The ABCB of Australian Building Codes Board, like the NCC, was formed under the initiative of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).  

Its role is to maintain and issue the NCC and to support the States and Territories and practitioners in using the NCC. 

The ABCB website describes its aims and mission and provides access to all the materials it produces, including the NCC itself. 

Other useful references. 

ABCB Standards are mandatory once they are referenced in the NCC. 

The Handbooks are not mandatory. They provide guidance and examples  and explanatory text but nothing in them needs to be complied with in order to comply the with NCC. 

The supporting materials are also non-mandatory, but may be useful.  

The Key Points form this Module. 

Governing Requirements: 

  • are mandatory 

  • and it is the same content across all three volumes. 



  • same across all three Volumes 

  • State and Territory appendices, definitions and referenced documents. 


Other Sections: 

  • mandatory Performance Requirements 

  • Verification Methods 

  • DTS Provisions. 


They are maintained by the ABCB and re-issued on a regular basis. Access or downloads are available from the ABCB website. 

This brings us to the end of this presentation.  Thank you for viewing this NCC Tutor module. Check out the other NCC Tutor modules available to build your understanding of the NCC.