The Building Code of Australia (“BCA”) forms part of the National Construction Code (“NCC”), a document published by the Australian Building Codes Board (“ABCB”) to provide a nationally consistent framework for the construction of buildings and structures throughout Australia.
The NCC currently comprises three volumes;
- Building Code of Australia, Volume One (Class 2 to Class 9 Buildings)
- Building Code of Australia, Volume Two (Class 1 and Class 10 Buildings)
- Plumbing Code of Australia, Volume Three
In Australia, the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (“the Constitution”) sets out the roles and responsibilities of the federal and state governments. By convention, matters not specifically addressed in the Constitution remain the power of the States and Territories.
Health, safety and amenity of people in buildings is not addressed in the Constitution. As a result, these matters has been assumed by the States and Territories, leading to an array of differing regulatory frameworks throughout Australia.
Almost 50 years ago in 1967, the complexity of Australia’s regulatory system for buildings and construction was identified as a legislative nightmare. As a result an intergovernmental committee was established by agreement between the States to pool their resources and draft a uniform technical code for building regulatory purposes. The result of their cooperation was a document first published in the early 1970’s called the Australian Model Uniform Building Code (AMUBC).
Again in the early 1980’s it was recognised that the building industry required further reform to encourage national consistency and support modern methods of construction and materials. A new committee was formed leading to the first edition of the Building Code of Australia (BCA), developed in 1988 and published in 1990.
In 1991, the Council of Australian Governments (“COAG”) accepted a recommendation to establishment a new body with the objective of once again reforming building codes throughout Australia. In 1994 the Australian Building Codes Board (“ABCB”) was established, leading to a performanced-based building code, published in 1996.
Since 2003 the ABCB has moved to a yearly amendment cycle for the BCA accommodating ongoing developments in construction related to health, safety, amenity, construction materials and methods.