What is the National Construction Code?

If you’re in the market for a new home and have been chatting to builders or seeing any recent media surrounding the recent NCC changes, you’re not alone. This blog post will help get you across what those changes are and why they’re important, so, you’ll be well equipped when you’re in conversations with builders when you’re designing your new home.

What is the National Construction Code?

The National Construction Code (NCC) serves as the cornerstone of regulations governing Australia’s construction industry. Updated periodically, the recent revisions, that came into effect on May 01st, continue to refine standards across various aspects of construction. The recent revisions were created in 2022, but delayed coming into effect until this year, 2024.

What impact will the NCC 2022 updates have on my build?

The NCC 2022 changes include updates to the building code surrounding structural requirements, waterproofing and dampness control, health and amenity standards, accessibility criteria, energy efficiency measures, ancillary provisions, and guidelines for designing livable housing.

While these updates mark significant strides towards enhancing the quality and sustainability of residential builds, they also present financial considerations, necessitating careful planning and potential revisions for those with limited budgets.

Increases to the Energy Ratings of New Homes

The latest update of the NCC 2022, introduces required enhancements in residential energy efficiency. Key among these are requirements aimed at achieving a minimum 7-Star energy rating for new homes, (up from a minimum 6-Star energy rating previously). These increases in energy efficiency, measured under the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS), promises heightened comfort for occupants, increased efficiency to heat and cool dwellings (equating to savings on energy bills), while also imposing a new energy usage budget to be met annually by each dwelling.

What is an Annual Energy Usage Budget?

The annual energy use budget covers all of the heating and cooling equipment, appliances, and on-site renewable energy (e.g. rooftop solar) you use in your home. The total amount of energy used by these appliances, minus any energy generated on site must be less than or equal to the annual energy use budget.

This approach means NCC 2022 provides a mix of practical solutions for homes that can be customised to the climate and location of each build.

Embracing renewable energy sources like rooftop solar panels, increasing insulation requirements, and the use of thermally efficient windows like double glazing or thermally broken double-glazed windows remains optional but will help home owners improve the energy rating of their new homes, to  help them align with the annual energy usage budget.

What is Livable Housing?

The latest NCC 2022 updates also includes new requirements for Livable Housing Design Guidelines. These new provisions will improve the suitability of new Australian homes for people with reduced mobility. Livable Housing Design Guidelines focuses on changing the way we design homes to make them easier to use and more adaptable to the changing needs of occupants as they age.

The Livable Housing Design Guideline updates represents a significant pivot to how we’ve traditionally designed housing in Australia.

In practice, this means reducing steps where possible, allowing for more space in the bathroom, wider doorways, and reinforcing walls to allow for potential grabrail installations down the track.

The NCC 2022 changes usher in a new era of construction standards, prioritising not only structural integrity but also increased new home energy efficiency, with 7-star energy ratings and accessibility. While these changes may pose challenges for budget-conscious builders and individuals, they ultimately contribute to the creation of more sustainable, inclusive, and comfortable living environments for all Australians.