Last month, Australia’s building ministers agreed at their meeting to include minimum accessibility standards for residential housing and apartments in the 2022 National Construction Code (NCC) based on the Livable Housing Design Guidelines (LHDG) silver standards. The NCC public comment draft (stage 1) is open until Friday, 2 July, 2021.
If applied in full, the elements of the LHDG silver standards include:
- A continuous and step free path of travel from the street entrance and/or parking area to a dwelling entrance that is level
- A minimum with of entrance doors and minimum width of doors on ground/entrance level (i.e. 870 mm doors);
- A minimum width of hallways and passageways (i.e. min 1m wide);
- A toilet located on ground/entrance level and spatial requirements in front of pan;
- Step free showers and removable screens; and
- Reinforced walls to toilets, baths and shower for future installation of grab rails.
It was stated, however, in the NCC Meeting that ministers are mindful of potential impacts to the industry and each state and territory are free to determine how new provisions will be applied in order to minimise the regulatory impact on the construction sector.
Senior building officials will work with the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) to provide advice in order to support guideline implementation, including possible exclusions and transition timeframes.
While it is clear the ministers applied some discretion to the decision if the proposed accessible housing requirements to residential buildings were to be implemented it would impose significant costs ramification for future housing and would be extremely challenging to apply to all new houses and apartments and all blocks.
Don’t miss your opportunity to have your say on the new NCC. Make your comment on the ABCB stage 1 of the NCC 2022 public comment draft (PCD) on their website. This stage seeks comment on all proposed NCC amendments, except energy efficiency and condensation proposals that arise from project work. Comment submissions are open until 2 July 2021.
Please note that the 2nd stage of NCC 2022 PCD proposed content relating to energy efficiency and condensation project work will open for comment on 19 July.