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


Slide 1:

Welcome to Understanding the NCC.

Slide 2:

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

Slide 3:

This is what you’ll learn about in this presentation. 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. Other useful resources

Slide 4:

What is the National Construction Code (NCC)? The development of a national regulatory code for building and construction was an initiative of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG – the group of state/territory leaders and the Prime Minister), working in cooperation with the construction industry. 

Specifically the first nationally consistent Building Code of Australia (BCA) was published in 1992. The performance-based BCA (i.e. the introduction of the overarching Performance Requirements) was released in October 1996. The Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA) was introduced in 2011. So, the full 3 volume NCC has been in existence since 2011, but parts of it were established in 1992 and it took on a performance-based nature from 1996. Aim 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. Covers not just structural and other safety issues but also health and amenity, accessibility (e.g. disabled access) and sustainability (e.g. energy and water efficiency).

Slide 5:

Why do we regulate building and plumbing work in Australia?  The primary purpose 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. 

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, and through the conservation of water in buildings.

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

Regulation also aids governments in facilitating acceptable levels of risk. Societal cost‐versus‐benefit analyses 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 8 separate systems throughout the country, although it’s worth noting that all 8 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 related Regulations that contain the arrangements for different matters. (A key difference between an Act and Regulations is that an Act can only be changed with a vote of the relevant Parliament/legislative body, while generally the appropriate Minister has the authority to change the arrangements in the 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 necessary.)

Different aspects of regulation. Regulatory systems are generally made up of 2 types of regulation - 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, the formal adoption of the NCC as the source of technical regulation. 

Technical regulations cover 2 areas. Building site requirements include issues such as the protection of an adjoining property, hoardings to protect the public, signage for hazardous materials, buildings site health and safety, waste management, and environmental controls on building sites.

Design and construction requirements 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 buildings 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.

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How is the NCC organised? The NCC Volumes. The NCC comprises 3 volumes. 

Volume One covers primarily Class 2-9 buildings. These are mostly used by the commercial building sector. Note 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 and includes the ABCB Housing Provisions Standard which represent the DTS Provisions for Volume Two. This Volume is mostly used by the domestic building sector, 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 (exact application depends on the legislation in the particular state or territory). Construction of new buildings, new building work within existing buildings, change of use of a building, e.g. office block converted to apartments, old fire station converted to a B&B, or residence converted to a restaurant, plumbing and drainage work in new and existing buildings.

Referenced documents. The NCC references other documents, such as various Australian Standards. When a document is referenced in the NCC, it has the same legal force as the NCC. So these reference 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 it becomes mandatory, as required under the NCC.

Slide 7:

Key terms used in the NCC. 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.

Assessment Methods are methods that can be used for determining that a Performance Solution 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 the different volumes and Sections of the NCC), Expert Judgement, Comparison with DTS Provisions.

A Performance Solution means a method of complying with the Performance Requirements other than by a DTS 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. 

Deemed-to-Satisfy (DTS) 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.

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.

Slide 8:

How are the Volumes of the NCC organised? The first section in all volumes of the NCC is the Governing Requirements, which are the same across all 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 volume/s.

Most of the text in the Schedules is identical across all 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 the 3 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 3 volumes of the NCC have different numbers of sections.

The information in the Sections is also organised differently across the different 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 slightly different structure. Again, the Performance Requirements, Verification Methods and DTS Provisions are grouped across different sections, however there are additional DTS Provisions which can be found in the ABCB Housing Provisions Standard. 

The details of the contents of the other sections of each volume, are discussed in other training modules. (Specifically, Using NCC Volume One, Using NCC Volume Two and Using NCC Volume Three).

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.

Slide 9:

What do the Governing Requirements contain? The Governing Requirements are mandatory and provide the rules and instructions for using and complying with the NCC. 

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 they are applying the requirements of the NCC correctly.

The contents of the Governing Requirements are the same across all volumes of the NCC. If they are familiar with the content of this Section from Volume One, then they are familiar with the content in the other Volumes.

The details of defined terms, State and Territory variations and referenced documents are in the Schedules, which are discussed later in this module.

A state and territory may vary requirements to take account of differences in geography, climate or policy or for other technical reasons. For example, Victoria requires compliance with special provisions for safety barriers at motor vehicle race tracks. 

State and Territory variations and additions are identified in each volume of the NCC. They are always highlighted in some way. All state and Territory variations/additions are contained in Schedules 4 to 11.

Slide 10:

Match each term from Part A1 to its meaning. Specifies a restricted set of circumstances in which a requirement or provision applies equals ‘Limitation’. Provides additional instructions for a requirement or provision equals ‘Note’. Specifies when and where a requirement or provision applies equals ‘Application’.

Specifies circumstances in which a requirement or provision does not apply equals ‘Exemption’.

Slide 11:

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.

If you chose False, Yes, that’s right. The NCC provides nationally consistent building and plumbing codes which have effect through legislation in each of the states and territories, but it can be overridden by other State or Territory legislation.

Slide 12:

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

The NCC always takes precedence over a referenced document. The NCC sometimes take precedence, depending on the circumstances. The referenced document always takes precedence over the NCC. You need to get an expert opinion to work out which one takes precedence. If you chose Option 1, yes, that’s right. The NCC always overrules any referenced document, if there is a difference between them.

Slide 13:

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

If you chose False, yes, that’s correct. The same kind of documentation can be used to provide evidence of suitability for NCC Volume One and NCC Volume Two (the BCA). 

However, evidence of suitability for NCC Volume Three (the PCA) requires different documentation.

Slide 14:

What do the Schedules contain? Schedule 1, contains the definitions of defined terms and contains a list of abbreviations and symbols used in the NCC with their meanings

 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. Includes maps and tables of alpine area, climate zones and wind classes and some illustrative diagrams.

The list of defined terms and definitions is exactly the same in all volumes. Schedule 2, contains a list of referenced documents.

Schedule 2 contains a table that lists all the Australian Standards, ABCB Protocols, ABCB Standards and other documents referenced in the NCC.

Documents are 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 volumes.

Schedule 3, contains Commonwealth of Australia advice.

This Schedule outlines a number of Commonwealth legislative instruments that practitioners may need to be aware of.

These instruments include Acts, regulations, codes and standards that may affect the design, construction and/or performance of buildings. The content of this Schedule is the same in all volumes. Schedule 4-11, contains State and Territory variations.

These Schedules contain the details of additions and variations to the provisions within the NCC. There is a schedule for each State or Territory.

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

In all volumes, the body of the document provides a reference to the variations or additions but does not contain the actual text of the variation or addition. In the ABCB Housing Provisions Standard, the above also applies.

Slide 15:

Interpreting the NCC Schedules

Question 1: In NCC Volume One, clause C2D2 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 will you find the details of the variations?

Schedule 8 South Australia? Section C Fire resistance? Clause SA C2D2(1), (3) and (4)?

Question 2: What do the following abbreviations mean, when they are used within the NCC:


Schedule 1 Definitions. AS equals Australian Standard, HS equals Horizontal fire spread, RSET equals Required Safe Egress Time, SHGC equals Solar Heat Gain Coefficient.

Question 3: In which states or territories can you find areas designated as alpine areas according to the NCC?

Schedule 1 Definitions. Alpine area, Figure 1 Alpine areas. Table 1 Alpine areas where snow loads are significant. New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

Question 4: What is the difference between the terms waterproof and water resistant, as they are used within the NCC?

Schedule 3 Definitions. Waterproof means the property of a material that does not allow water to penetrate through it’ Water resistant means the property of a system or material that restricts water movement and will not degrade under conditions of water.

Question 5: In which volumes of the NCC are the following Australian Standards referenced:

AS/NZS 4600 Cold-formed steel structures? AS 2049 Roof tiles? AS/NZS 3500 Part 4 Plumbing and drainage – Heated water services?

Schedule 2 Reference documents. AS/NZS 4600 equals Volume One, B1D4, Volume Two H1D6; Housing Provisions 5.3.3, 6.3.6.

AS 2049 equals Volume One, F3D2; Volume Two, H1D7. AS/NZS 3500 Part 4 equals Volume Three, B2D2, B2D6, B2D7, B2D8, B2D9, B2D11.

Slide 16:

Where would you look for information about…

…what the acronym FRL means and how you can work out the FRL of a building element?

Schedule 1 Definitions explains that the acronym FRL stands for fire-resistance level and provides the definition of fire-resistance level (FRL)

Specification 1 Fire-resistance of building elements, Governing Requirements, explains the procedures for determining the FRL of building elements.

Slide 17:

Match the Part in the Governing Requirements to its contents…

Part A1 equals ‘Interpreting the NCC’. Part A2 equals ‘Compliance with the NCC’. Part A3 equals ‘Application of the NCC in States and Territories’. Part A4 equals ‘Referenced documents’ Part A5 equals ‘Documentation of design and construction’. Part A6 equals Building classification.

Slide 18:

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

If you chose True, yes, that’s right. All buildings must comply with both the Governing Requirements, and relevant Performance Requirements from other Sections of the NCC. 

Slide 19:

Match the Schedules to their contents. Tasmania equals Schedule 9. Referenced documents equals Schedule 2. Australian Capital Territory equals Schedule 4. Definitions equals  Schedule 1. South Australia equals Schedule 8.

Slide 20:

How is the NCC maintained? Amendment of the NCC. The NCC is amended and reissued on a regular schedule, to provide certainty for users who rely on 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; it did not give them sufficient time to prepare for changes before they were introduced.

In 2015, the nine Governments (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 an ‘out of cycle amendment’.

The role of the ABCB. The ABCB, 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.

Slide 21:

Other useful resources. The 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 with the NCC. The supporting materials are also not mandatory, but may be useful.

Slide 22:

Summary. NCC Volume One. Section A Governing Requirements. Other Sections –provisions for Class 2-9 buildings. Schedules

NCC Volume Two. Section A Governing Requirements. Section H – Class 1 and 10 buildings. ABCB Housing Provisions Standard. Schedules. NCC Volume Three. Section A Governing Requirements. Other Sections - plumbing and drainage provisions for all building classes. Schedules.

Slide 23:

Key Points. Governing Requirements are mandatory. Same content across all three Volumes. Schedules. Same across all three Volumes. State and Territory appendices, definitions, referenced documents. Other Sections. Mandatory Performance Requirements. Verification Methods. DTS Provisions. Maintained by the ABCB. Re-issued regularly. Access or download from the ABCB website

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Thank you for your time. That brings our presentation on understanding the NCC to a close. If you’d like more information please visit