Section 3: Building standards

The Building Act adopts the Building Code of Australia (BCA), being Volumes One and Two of the National Construction Code series, as the primary applicable building standard for all new building work, new buildings and incidental structures. The applicable building standards apply whether or not a building permit is required. Similarly, there are applicable building standards that all demolition work must comply with as set out in the following table.

The applicable building standards are outlined in Part 4 of the Building Regulations for various circumstances including applicable building standards for private swimming pools; relocated buildings; incidental structures and demolition work as per the following table: 

Circumstance Applicable building standard Reg.
Building standards associated with building work in respect of all kinds of buildings and incidental structures where a building permit is required. [Note: except to the extent that regulations 31C, or 31D otherwise provide]
  • the BCA in effect at the time the application for a building permit is made; or
  • the BCA that was in effect 12 months prior. 
31A
Private swimming pools (please note: currently under review and applicable building standards may change) For the construction of the private swimming pool:
  • the BCA, other than performance requirements GP1.2(a) and P2.5.3; and
  • the enclosure requirements under r. 50.
31C
Relocated buildings For safety provisions (eg structural and fire safety)
set out in tables in the Building Regulations:
  • the BCA in effect at the time the application for the most recent building permit is made; or
  • the BCA that was in effect 12 months prior. 

For non-life safety provisions (eg energy efficiency and health and amenity):

  • the building standards applicable at the time the building was first assembled (ie the first application for a building permit or relevant approval/authorisation to assemble the building or incidental structure).
31D
Building work that does not require a building permit The BCA in effect at the time construction commenced. 31E
Occupancy permit for permanent change of use (s. 49(a)); or 
occupancy permit or building approval certificate for strata (s. 50)
The edition of the BCA listed in the certificate of design compliance, but if there is no applicable certificate of design compliance either:
  • the building licence or other approval that was granted for the construction of the building; or
  • the technical requirements applicable to the building at the time of its construction.
31F
Occupancy permit for change of classification (s. 49(b)); or
occupancy permit or building approval certificate for unauthorised works (s. 51)
The BCA at the time the application for an occupancy permit or building approval certificate is made. 31G
Modification of occupancy permit for additional use of a building on a temporary basis (s. 48); or
occupancy permit to replace the current occupancy permit for a building where no change of use or classification is proposed (s. 52(1)); or building approval certificate for a building with existing authorisation (s. 52(2))
The edition of the BCA listed in the certificate of design compliance, but if there is no applicable certificate of design compliance either:
  • the building licence or other approval that was granted for the construction of the building; or
  • the technical requirements applicable to the building at the time of its construction.
31H
Occupancy permit for a completed building or part of a building (s. 46) The accompanying certificate of construction compliance is required to state that the building has been completed in accordance with the plans and specifications that are specified in the applicable certificate of design compliance for each applicable building permit (s. 56(2)(a)).  
Demolition work The applicable building standards include requirements for the treatment or removal of materials displaced from the building or incidental structure being demolished; and ensuring that services to the building such as electrical, gas, telephone or water are disconnected by the service provider prior to completion of demolition work. 31I

 

 

Who is responsible for compliance?

The Building Act requires all the following parties to be responsible for ensuring compliance with the applicable building standards:

Party Relevant section
of the Building Act
Responsibility
Builder ss.29(1) & 37(1) The person named as the builder on a building permit has to ensure that on completion of the building or incidental structure  it complies with each applicable building standard, and is in accordance with the plans and specifications as specified in the applicable certificate of design compliance.
Demolition contractor ss. 29(2) & 38(1) The person named as the demolition contractor on a demolition permit has to ensure that the applicable building standards in respect of demolition work are met.
Owner ss. 37(2) & 38(2) Each owner of a building or incidental structure for which building or demolition work is done without a permit (such as works that are exempt under the Building Act and the Building Regulations), must ensure that on completion of the building or incidental structure, or demolition work, it complies with each applicable building standard.
Building surveyor ss. 19, 56 & 57

The building surveyor is responsible for certifying compliance with applicable building standards by assessing plans and specifications and carrying out relevant inspections and obtaining relevant technical documents before signing the appropriate certificate of compliance.

A building surveyor should only sign a certificate of compliance when satisfied that the building or incidental structure achieves compliance with the applicable building standards.

Permit authority Part 8 and Part 12    The permit authority is responsible for enforcement and dealing with non-compliance in relation to the applicable building standards. 

An overview of the Building Code of Australia

The BCA is Volumes One and Two of the National Construction Code series and is produced by the Australian Building Codes Board on behalf of the Australian Government and state and territory governments. The BCA is currently published each year on 1 May however from 1 May 2016 it will be published
every three years. The National Construction Code series is available free online at www.abcb.gov.au

Volume One generally deals with Class 2 to Class 9 buildings (commercial, public and certain multi residential buildings).

Volume Two deals with Class 1 and Class 10 buildings and incidental structures (houses, sheds, garages, carports, swimming pools, retaining walls etc.).

The BCA is a performance based document that:

  • allows for the innovative use of materials, forms of construction or designs;
  • permits designs to be tailored to a particular building; and
  • allows the designer flexibility in the use of materials, forms of construction or design provided while still allowing acceptable existing building practices through the deemed-to-satisfy provisions.

The responsibility for determining compliance with the BCA rests with the building surveyor signing the appropriate certificate of compliance. Contact the relevant building surveyor for more information about the compliance of a building or incidental structure.

Building classifications

Buildings are classified under the BCA by the purpose for which they are designed, constructed, or adapted to be used. A building may attract a number of classes and be described as a mixed use building. It is for the relevant building surveyor to determine the classification of the building or incidental structure for the purpose of signing a certificate of compliance. The BCA identifies the building classes. Visit the Building classes webpage for full descriptions.

NEXT – Section 4: Typical approval sequences

BACK – Section 2: Certificates of compliance

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