Updated building code to provide many benefits


Perth buyers could soon benefit from a new wave of home construction guarantees with important updates to the National Building Code expected, allowing them to live longer in their homes.

The code, which is revised every three years, will likely see the most significant changes in more than a decade and is expected to be implemented in September 2022.

Among the big winners will be older Australians, who will benefit from a wide range of mandatory accessibility features that make aging in place much easier.

The proposed accessibility standards will come in handy for Western Australia, which currently has a population of 555,028 and recorded the country’s second-largest increase in the 65-and-over cohort last year. .

Nicola Willand, professor at the RMIT University School of Property, Construction and Project Management, said the updates would also benefit people with disabilities and increase the supply of accommodation suitable for people with reduced mobility.

She added that senior-friendly housing would reduce the national health bill, with fewer people likely to need taxpayer-funded home modifications.

“The standard includes requirements for hallways and sanitary areas in homes to be wide enough to accommodate walking aids and structural reinforcements in bathroom walls that allow for future mobility aid installations. and lifting, ”said Dr. Willand.

“These features will make housing safer for everyone and raise awareness of the need for universal design to accommodate people of varying abilities.

“It also promises to have economic benefits for households.

“Having minimum accessibility requirements built during the construction phase – around $ 4,000 for a new single-family home – eliminates the need to find suitable housing if one is injured or developed. impairments as they age. “

The proposed new building requirements will likely be met by an additional set of environmentally friendly building design codes aimed at reducing energy costs.

Builders expect the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme’s minimum performance requirement to increase from six to seven stars, which is the code’s first jump since 2010.

Over the past 12 months, WA in particular has recorded an average energy rating of 6.3 stars for 6,902 new homes, with metal roofs, hollow brick walls and concrete slab floors.

Trivess Moore, senior professor in the Sustainable Construction Innovation Lab at RMIT University School of Property, Construction and Project Management, said establishing a foundation for a seven-star benchmark would be a milestone in the race for carbon neutral housing and would result in an average 24% reduction in energy for heating and cooling nationwide.

He said the housing below was still 40% lower than other developed countries facing climates similar to Australia, and there was much more work to be done in the housing sector. construction to fill the gap.

“Research at RMIT University found that over 80% of new homes in Australia are only built to the minimum six-star standard, with less than 1.5% built to the optimum environmental and economic performance of 7. , 5 stars, demonstrating the need to improve minimum regulatory requirements, ”said Dr. Moore.

“Raising the minimum number of stars will not be enough on its own. “

Read about the National Building Code here at ncc.abcb.gov.au.

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