The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) recently gave consideration to the content of the 2019 edition of the National Construction Code (NCC) and has provided Master Builders Australia with some early advice on the key changes. Some of the key changes between the current 2016 edition and next years 2019 edition are described below: 


The most significant change to the NCC since the performance-based code was introduced in 1996, is an estimated 40% of the Code’s Performance Requirements will be quantified either directly or by a NCC Verification Method. This work stems from the Board’s increased and competent use of performance initiative (further info click here) aimed at assisting the reduction of non-compliance caused by poor application of Performance Solutions. 

It is intended that the remaining Performance Requirements will be quantified in the same manner for NCC 2022. 


The NCC has undergone significant structural change to improve access, awareness and understanding including the introduction of consistent governing requirements across all three Volumes and changes to the format and structure of NCC online. NCC Volume Three has been redrafted consistent with a new information architecture that aims to improve access and readability of the document in a digital environment, as well as in preparation for a consistent volume structure in 2022.  

Fire Safety 

A new Fire Safety Verification Method (VM) will be introduced with a delayed adoption date from 1 May 2020. The new VM, which is a voluntary tool under a Performance Solution pathway, provides for a documented process in the design of fire safety Performance Solutions, and is based on the International Fire Engineering Guidelines. 

Fire sprinklers in Class 2 & 3 buildings 

A requirement for fire sprinklers to be installed in apartment buildings and other residential buildings 4 storeys and above and up to 25 metres in effective height will be included in the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions. This means, anyone using a Deemed-to-Satisfy pathway for compliance for these types of buildings will need to install a fire sprinkler system. As part of these requirements, two new types of fire sprinkler systems have been included, as well as concessions for other fire safety features on account of the additional protection afforded by the fire sprinkler systems. 

Bonded Laminate Concession 

The ability to use a bonded laminated material with specified characteristics and controlled fire hazard properties, where a non-combustible material would otherwise be required, will remain for NCC 2019. 

Energy efficiency 

The commercial building energy efficiency provisions have undergone their first major overhaul since 2010, consistent with the COAG National Energy Productivity Plan. A package of measures for Volume One will focus on reducing energy consumption by a potential 35%, representing a step-change for commercial buildings. Additionally, new non-mandatory Verification Methods have been introduced to demonstrate compliance with the relevant Performance Requirement by way of NABERS and Green Star. 

New heating and cooling load limits for the NatHERS compliance pathway will be introduced for Volume Two.  

Energy efficiency provisions for Volume One and Volume Two will have a transition period of 12 months until 1 May 2020 during which either the new provisions or those from NCC 2016 may be used.  

Volume Two Acceptable Construction Practice 

Improvements have been made to the provisions of numerous Acceptable Construction Practices (ACPs), and new ACPs have been introduced for earth retaining structures, masonry, and attachment of decks and balconies. 

Condensation management 

Provisions to reduce the likelihood of risks associated with condensation within buildings will be introduced to help deal with potential health risks and amenity issues.  

Roof-top spaces 

New provisions clarifying the application of requirements to occupiable outdoor areas, such as occupiable roof-top spaces, will be introduced in Volume One.  

Accessible adult change facilities 

Volume One will include new requirements for accessible adult change facilities to be provided in large shopping centres, sporting venues, museums, theatres and airport terminals. 


For NCC Volume Three, in addition to the quantification and readability changes described above, heated water temperature control, cross-connection control and rainwater harvesting and use requirements will be included. Additionally, some sections of Volume Three that were only enacted in a minority of States or Territories, such as on-site wastewater systems, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, and stormwater, have been relocated to the relevant State or Territory appendix. 

Want to know more? 
Register to attend the ABCB’s 2019 NCC Seminars in your capital city. Seminars will be held through February and March 2019 to inform practitioners about important changes to NCC Volumes One and Two, the BCA at a cost of $160.00. You can register to secure place today here.

Alex Waldren

National Director - Industry Policy

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