Out with the old and in with the new – 2019 National Construction Code now in force!

As of 1 May 2019, the new edition of the National Construction Code (Code) (excluding the transitional and delayed adoption provisions) will apply to all contracts entered into for construction and/or design work across Australia.

The National Construction Code incorporates all on-site building and plumbing requirements, setting out the minimum requirements for the design, construction and performance of buildings throughout Australia. You can download a copy of the National Construction Code 2019 here.

The key amendments to the Code include:

Specific and quantified performance requirements

Simplification of the assessment of compliance with the Code by introducing new verification methods which will quantify or measure approximately 40% of the Code’s performance requirements. By shifting the focus from deemed-to-satisfy provisions to verification methods builders and developers have more flexibility to come up with their own building solution and use relevant verification methods to demonstrate compliance with the Code’s requirements.

Fire Safety in mid-rise apartments

To increase safety, the Code makes it mandatory for all units in buildings between four storeys and up to 25 metres in effective height to have sprinkler systems. Previously sprinklers were only required for buildings greater than 25 metres.

The Code now allows fire-protected timber to be used as a deemed-to-satisfy solution in buildings up to 25 metres. This offers developers a quicker and more cost-effective process to gain approval and provides greater flexibility in utilising progressive materials and sustainable designs.

Energy efficiency

The energy efficiency provisions will have a transition period of one year, until 1 May 2020. In this period, developers and building owners subject to the energy efficiency requirements can adopt either the current 2016 provisions or the new provisions but cannot mix and match between the two.

The Code introduces new verification methods to demonstrate compliance with the relevant performance requirement by way of NABERS and green star.

Under the new Code, the assessment of building fabric and glazing under section J – “wall-glazing construction” will be measured together rather than assessing it separately as fabric and glazing components, in short, a window is now a wall.

Other changes

Other notable changes include:

  • construction of separate accessible adult change facilities (requiring peninsula toilet suite with drop down grabrails, an adult size changing table, hand basin, a ceiling hoist, sufficient circulation space) in public buildings including shopping centres and public assembly buildings;
  • new deemed-to-satisfy provisions to prevent condensation in buildings including the installation of water control membranes, the discharge of exhaust systems and the ventilation of roof spaces;
  • occupiable outdoor areas (i.e. rooftop carparks, balconies) can only be used where the floor surface of the rooftop or balcony is not more than three metres above the supporting footing, unless the method of attachment to the building is designed by a professional engineer.


Any application for building and development approval that is lodged with the relevant council on or after 1 May 2019 will be assessed against the new Code. If you are currently planning for a new building design, development, or construction, we strongly recommend that you consider whether any of the new standards will affect the various technical design and construction aspects of your project and if applicable, account for these new provisions prior to application for approval. If you are not working with the right version of the Code, you will be in breach of your statutory and contractual obligations.

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader’s specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.

Key contacts:

Stephen Pyman – Director | Principal
Christopher Rowden – Principal


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