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The Building Code of Australia (BCA)

What is a Building Code?

A Building Code  is a set of rules that specify the minimum acceptable level of safety for constructed objects such as Buildings and Non Building Structures. The main purpose of A Building Code is to protect public health, safety and general welfare, as well as providing specific provisions in relation to access. The Building Code becomes law of a particular jurisdiction when formally enacted by the appropriate authority.  

These requirements are usually a combination of prescriptive requirements that spell out exactly how something is to be done, and performance requirements which outline what the required level of performance is and leave it to the designer or Architect how this is achieved. Traditionally Building Codes are very reactive in that when a problem occurs the Building Codes change to ensure that the problem never happens again. In recent years there has been a move amongst most of the Building Codes to move to more prescriptive requirements and less performance requirements.  

Building Codes have a long  history in 1760 BC The Sixth Babylonian King Hammurabi enacted what is generally accepted as the first Building Code called the Code of Hammurabi which specified:  

·         229.  If a builder builds a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he has built falls in and cause the death of its owner, then that builder shall be put to death.    

·         230.  If causes the death of the son of the owner, the son of the builder shall be put to death.    

·         231 . If it causes the death of a slave of the owner of the building, then the builder shall pay the owner of the house a slave of equal value.    

·         232 . If it ruins goods, the builder shall make compensation for all that has been ruined, and in as much as he did not construct   properly this which he built and it fell in, he shall rebuild the house from his own expense.    

·         233 . If a builder builds a house for someone, even though he has not yet completed it, if then the walls seem toppling, the builder must make the walls solid from his own expense.     

Back to 2012 we have in Australia the Building Code of Australia (BCA) which is a uniform set of technical provisions for the design and construction of buildings and other structures throughout Australia. The BCA is produced and maintained by the Australian Codes Board (ABCB) on behalf of the Australian Government and each state and Territory Government and is referenced in all State and Territory building legislation. The BCA is supported by a number of reference documents. These documents provide specific detail on how to comply with the BCA and include a number of Australian Standards.  

The first edition of the Building Code of Australia was published in 1988 by the Australian Building Regulations Coordinating Council (AUBRCC). Since 1996 (BCA96) The BCA has been produced and maintained by the  Australian Building Board (ABCB)  on behalf of the Australian Government and each State and Territory Government. The BCA is a uniform set of technical provisions for the design and construction of buildings and other structures throughout Australia; it is referenced in all State and Territory building Legislation  

The National Construction Code (NCC)  is an initiative of the Council of Australia Governments (COAG) developed to incorporate all on-site constructed requirements into a single code. The NCC comprises the  Building Code of Australia (BCA), Volume one and two , and the  Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA), as Volume Three , all apply to new buildings and new building work on existing buildings.  

·     Volume One : pertains primarily to Class 2 to 9 Buildings   

·     Volume Two : pertains primarily to Class 1 and 10 Buildings   

·     Volume Three : pertains primarily to Plumbing and Drainage associated with all Classes of Buildings   

All three volumes are drafted in a performance format  allowing for a dual approach to compliance with a choice of Deemed-to-satisfy  Provisions or flexibility to develop  Alternative Solutions . The first step in using the performance-based system is to choose the means by which the proposal will achieve compliance  

·     A Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution   

·     An Alternative Solution, or   

·     A Mixture of Deemed-to-satisfy and Alternative Solution   

If compliance is achieved with the Deemed to Satisfy Provisions, a proposal is deemed to have complied with the relevant volume of the NNC   

If a practitioner wants to take an alternative approach, they have the opportunity to do so-on the understanding that their proposal must meet the relevant Performance Requirements. The nature of the Assessment Method will vary depending on the complexity of the Alternative Solution   

The DDA compliance Problem      

Concern that the technical requirements required of the   BCA were not   considered to meet the intent and   objectives of the DDA . Potential for inconsistencies between two Legislative requirements in relation to access for people with a Disability to buildings being the DDA and through State and Territory Building Law the BCA led the Australian Government to request the ABCB to develop proposals for a revised BCA to enable it to form the bases of the draft Premises Standards     

John Bedwell Obvius Access 18th November 2012    

 

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