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NSW Building Compliance 101

A summary of the legal requirements and standards set by the NSW government

Moving into a new home is an exciting phase. The thrill of new beginnings and an empty nest to fill with new things and memories can bring joy like nothing else.

Of course, whether it’s an existing property or a new build, the house must comply with the guidelines set by the government and relevant governing bodies. However, compliance is more than just rules set for everyone to follow. It is more than paying the required fees – compliance is about ensuring the safety and health of the community and the surroundings.

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 sets the approvals that every construction and building work in NSW must abide by. It also states that every building and development work must comply with the requirements set by the Building Code of Australia, under the National Construction Code.

What is the National Construction Code?

What is the National Construction Code?

The National Construction Code (NCC) is a set of technical requirements for the design, erection, and performance of structures in Australia. It contains the minimum requirements for the health, safety, accessibility, and sustainability of buildings. The NCC is made up of three volumes, divided into the following:

  • The Building Code of Australia makes up Volumes One and Two of the code. Volume One is for commercial structures, while Volume Two is for residential buildings.
  • The Plumbing Code of Australia is the third volume.

The NCC covers different aspects of construction, such as structural safety, fire safety, accessibility, and amenity of the building. New buildings and plumbing systems must abide by the NCC. They can comply through a Performance Solution, Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution, or both.

Complying with the NCC through a performance solution

Complying with the NCC through a performance solution

In order to comply with the NCC, you must pass a Performance Solution, which means satisfying relevant Performance Requirements in either of the following assessment methods:

  • Evidence of suitability, such that the materials, design, construction, and plumbing meet the design and construction requirements of the code.
  • Passing the verification method, whether the method provided by the NCC or that of an appropriate authority.
  • An expert judgment by a person who has the necessary qualifications and experience to judge the suitability of building, plumbing, and drainage solutions.
  • Meeting the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions.

Those who plan to meet the performance requirements through a performance solution must take the following steps:

  • Set a performance-based design brief.
  • Assess the design using one or more of the assessment methods provided.
  • Evaluate the assessment results and compare them with passing criteria declared in the design brief.
  • Prepare documentation report which includes the following:
    • All Performance Requirements and Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions applicable to the construction project.
    • The assessment methods used.
    • Details on the design brief, assessment, and evaluation of results.
    • Confirmation of meeting the Performance Requirements
    • Any relevant limitations and conditions to the design.
Complying with the NCC through a “Deemed-to-Satisfy” solution

Complying with the NCC through a “Deemed-to-Satisfy” solution

Solutions that meet the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions are assumed to have met the Performance Requirements. To meet the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions, the following assessment methods are used.

  • Evidence of suitability, such that the materials, design, construction, and plumbing meet the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions of the code.
  • An expert judgment by a person who has the necessary qualifications and experience to judge the suitability of building, plumbing, and drainage solutions.
  • The appropriate and acceptable construction practice or manual for residential buildings must be followed.

Of course, some may choose to comply with both requirements. A separate assessment must be done for the performance requirements and deemed-to-satisfy provisions in such cases.

Compliance with the Development Certification and Fire Safety

Compliance with the Development Certification and Fire Safety

The Development Certification and Fire Safety effectively replaced the provisions stated in the EP&A Regulation of 2000 last January 1, 2022. The regulation covers the following requirements:

  • Construction Certificates
  • Occupation Certificates
  • Fire Safety Requirements
  • Combustible Cladding
  • Subdivision Matters
  • Inspection Requirements.

A fire safety certification is issued when new building work is completed. The certificate means that fire safety measures listed in the fire safety schedule are all implemented. It also means that a qualified expert checked these safety measures as well.

A fire safety statement is issued to establish that an accredited and qualified professional inspected and validated the effectiveness of implementing each fire safety measure. It means that a multi-dwelling or commercial property has the necessary fire safety measures, which include:

  • Fire Detection and Alarm Systems (FDAS)
  • Fire Doors
  • Sprinkler Systems
  • Emergency Lighting
  • Exit Signs
  • Fire Hose Reels, Portable Fire Extinguishers, and Fire Hydrants
  • Evacuation Signs.

Fire safety statements can be annual or supplemental. An annual fire safety statement covers the essential fire safety measures and is issued yearly. A supplementary fire statement covers critical fire safety measures.

For homes, the law requires that every floor needs to have at least one smoke alarm. In addition, there must be a smoke alarm in sections of the house where the bedrooms are. Homeowners are also encouraged to install residential fire sprinklers and establish a fire escape plan along with their smoke alarm systems.

Compliance for electrical works

Compliance for electrical works

After an electrical installation, the performing electrician must submit a Certificate of Compliance of Electrical Works within 7 days. The electrician must furnish copies for the NSW Fair Trading, the customer, and the electricity provider or distributor for new installations.

If an electrical installation has been de-energised for at least 6 months, a qualified electrician must perform an electrical installation safety inspection before re-energising the property.

Homebuyers planning to purchase homes that were constructed before 1980 should also have the house inspected for aged or faulty electrical wirings. Houses built before 2000 are likely to have no safety switches installed, so hiring an electrician to check is recommended as well.

These ensure that electrical installations are safe for the occupants of the house, given that 40% of house fires in NSW are due to electrical problems.

Safety, safety, safety

Compliance is all about ensuring the safety of the community. Some requirements may be rigid, but it is only because the risk is also serious. Poor design, construction, installation, and maintenance and substandard materials can lead to accidents, injuries, and even death. Before purchasing a property, hiring a reputable building inspector will help in the decision-making and negotiation process.

Contact Exceptional Building Inspections now for more information!

Robert Taylor, Exceptional Building Inspections’ building consultant, has over 4 decades of industry experience. Our company provides clients with a building inspection report that identifies any safety issues and major defects found in the property.

Its inspection process is compliant with the Australian Standard, so you have the peace of mind that all the essential areas of the house are covered.

Call us today at 49504197 or 0412188199 to book an inspection in Newcastle, today. Alternatively, click here to send us an online message and we will get back to you as soon as possible.