When you need to achieve compliance with the National Construction Code, including the Building Code of Australia, Volume 1, it can be quite complex and overwhelming if you are not working in this area.
For the average business owner, this process can be confusing, unclear and unnecessarily costly without knowing the facts.
The following are some common definitions used in building certification:
Accessible: Used in provisions regarding access for people with a disability, these are outlined in Parts D3, E3.6, F2.4 and H2 of the NCC / BCA Volume 1.
Accessway: A path of travel suitable for use by people with a disability. It is an abbreviation from AS 1428.1-2009 which defines the term “continuous accessible path of travel” as an uninterrupted path of travel providing access to all accessible facilities.
Alternative Solution: Has the same meaning as Performance Solution. Prior to May 2016, it was described as “a building solution that complies with BCA performance requirements, other than by reason of satisfying the Deemed-to-Satisfy provisions.” A Performance Solution now means “a method of complying with the Performance Requirements other than by a Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution.”
Assessment Method: The following Assessment Methods, or any combination of them, can be used to verify that a Performance Solution or a Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution complies with the Performance Requirements:
- Evidence to support that the use of a material or product, form of construction or design meets a Performance Requirement or a Deemed-to-Satisfy Provision as described in Clause A2.2 (Evidence of suitability).
- Verification Methods such as—
(i) the Verification Methods in the NCC; or
(ii) such other Verification Methods as the appropriate authority accepts for determining compliance with the Performance Requirements.
- Expert Judgement.
- Comparison with the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions.
Building Classification: The use of a building determines its own classification. The use is determined on the basis of its design, construction or occupation/adaptation. Classification is a process of understanding risks in a building or part, according to its use. It must be correctly undertaken to achieve BCA aims as appropriate to each building in each circumstance. It is possible for a single building to have parts with different classifications and parts of a building to have more than one classification.
Building Solution: The term Building Solution used in the NCC prior to 1 May 2016 has been replaced with the terms Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution and Performance Solution in NCC 2016. The defined term has been retained as some jurisdictions may still reference the term in their legislation.
Compliance with the NCC: To comply with the NCC, a solution must achieve compliance with the Performance Requirements. It’s as simple as that. A compliant solution could be partly a Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution and partly a Performance Solution, or a combination of the two. However, whatever method is adopted, building proponents need to always meet the Performance Requirements of the NCC.
D3.4 Exemptions: Some buildings or parts of buildings many not be required to be accessible under the BCA. D3.4 details exemptions to the requirements for access to certain areas within buildings where providing access would be inappropriate because of the nature of the area or the tasks undertaken. These areas could include rigging lofts, waste containment areas, foundry floors, loading docks, fire lookouts, Class 8 electricity network substations, plant and equipment rooms and other similar areas. Assessment of these areas is on a case-by-case basis.
Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions: The Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions make up the prescriptive content of the NCC. These are the ‘black and white’ solutions to compliant, i.e. follow these and you will comply. The Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions are deemed to satisfy the Performance Requirements.
Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution: Means a solution which uses the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions to demonstrate compliance with the Performance Requirements.
- A Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution which complies with the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions is deemed to comply with the Performance Requirements.
- A Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution may be assessed according to one or more of the Assessment Methods, as appropriate.
Equivalent: A Performance Solution may achieve compliance with the Performance Requirements by achieving equivalence with the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions.
Evidence of suitability: This is evidence to support that the use of a material, form of construction or design meets a Performance Requirement or a Deemed-to-Satisfy Provision. It may be in the form of one or a combination of the following:
- A report issued by a Registered Testing Authority, showing that the material or form of construction has been submitted to the tests listed in the report, and setting out the results of those tests and any other relevant information that demonstrates its suitability for use in the building.
- A current Certificate of Conformity or a current Certificate of Accreditation.
- A certificate from a professional engineer or other appropriately qualified person which:
- certifies that a material, design, or form of construction complies with the requirements of the BCA; and
- sets out the basis on which it is given and the extent to which relevant specifications, rules, codes of practice or other publications have been relied upon.
- A current certificate issued by a product certification body that has been accredited by the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ).
- Any other form of documentary evidence that correctly describes the properties and performance of the material or form of construction and adequately demonstrates its suitability for use in the building.
Expert Judgement: Expert judgement may be used to assess a Performance Solution or Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution against the relevant Performance Requirements, or against the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions if use is being made of an equivalence Assessment Method.
Extent of access within buildings: The extent of access required depends on the classification of the building. Buildings and parts of buildings must be accessible as set out in Table D3.1 unless exempted by D3.4.
Flight: A flight is the part of a stairway that has a continuous slope created by the nosing line of the stair treads. Quarter or half landings are not considered part of a flight. However, winders are considered to be part of a flight.
Floor area: When applied to a building or storey, the floor area includes all the space capable of being used. It includes any roofed area, canopy, verandah or covered walkway, etc. Floor area is used in a number of different contexts in the NCC. It is therefore necessary to define each of these contexts:
- In relation to a building—the sum of the areas of all storeys.
- In relation to a storey—the floor area of the storey includes any enclosing walls.
- Where there is no enclosing wall in a part of a storey, those areas which may be used for storage, or other purposes, by occupants must be included as appropriate. It therefore includes any roofed area, including a canopy, verandah or covered way if it contributes to the functioning of the building. Internal walls, columns, shafts, stairways, ramps or the like are not deducted.
- In relation to a room—the bounding walls determine the limits of the floor area. Internal walls, columns, stairways, ramps or the like are not deducted.
- In relation to a fire compartment—the fire compartment may not be bounded by walls in all places. If this is the case and a roofed area contributes to the fire load, it should be considered as part of the floor area.
Functional Statement: Is a term not used within Volume One, however Functional Statements are used in this Guide as an aid to the interpretation of the NCC and not for determining compliance. Functional Statements are statements which describe how buildings and building elements achieve the Objectives.
Glazing on an accessway: On an accessway, where there is no chair rail, handrail or transom, all frameless or fully glazed doors, sidelights and any glazing capable of being mistaken for a doorway or opening, must be clearly marked with visual markings as per AS 1428.1.
Luminance contrast: This term is used in provisions for access for people with a disability. Luminance contrast is the measurement of the amount of light reflected from one surface or component, compared to the amount of light reflected from the background or surrounding surfaces. The majority of people who are blind or vision impaired have some vision. The provision of sufficient luminance contrast between components or surfaces and their backgrounds assists in their identification and use.
Meeting the Performance Requirements: Performance Requirements outline the levels of accomplishment different buildings must attain. The Performance Requirements are the only NCC hierarchy levels that must be satisfied. There are three options to comply with the Performance Requirements: Deemed-to-Satisfy Solutions, Performance Solutions or a combination of both.
Mezzanine: A “mezzanine” must be part of a room. If it is an intermediate floor or level that is enclosed by a wall it is no longer within another room (i.e. it is another room) and is therefore no longer a mezzanine. Such rooms are sometimes incorrectly called a “mezzanine”.
Objective: Is a term no longer used within Volume One since NCC 2016. An Objective prior to 1 May 2016 in Volume 1 meant a statement which was considered to reflect community expectations.
Part of a Building: When the NCC refers to a building, that reference can be to the whole building or any part of the building. Whether this provision applies depends on the circumstances of that case and the circumstances in which the reference is made. Generally, a reference to a building is a reference to the whole building, regardless of classification. However, when a provision is applicable to a specific class or classes of building, that reference to a building may be a reference to the whole building or part of the building depending on how the building is classified.
Performance Requirement: No NCC provision can be considered in isolation. Any departure from the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions for a Performance Solution (Alternative Solution) needs to be assessed against the relevant Performance Requirements within the relevant NCC Section or Part. Additionally, the proposed Performance Solution (Alternative Solution) may also impact on other Performance Requirements in other Sections or Parts. Thus, these additional Performance Requirements need to be considered in relation to the subject Performance Solution (Alternative Solution).
Performance Solution: Has the same meaning as Alternative Solution, which prior to May 2016 was described as “a building solution that complies with BCA performance requirements, other than by reason of satisfying the Deemed-to-Satisfy provisions.” But now it means “a method of complying with the Performance Requirements other than by a Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution.”
- A building proponent may decide to meet the Performance Requirements via a route which is not included in a Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution.
- This is referred to as a Performance Solution (Alternative Solution). A Performance Solution only complies with the NCC when the Assessment Method used satisfactorily demonstrates compliance with the Performance Requirements.
- If a Performance Solution is demonstrated to be at least equivalent to a Deemed-to-Satisfy Provision, the Performance Solution is deemed to have achieved compliance with the relevant Performance Requirement.
- Options are available for people wishing to use a Performance Solution (Alternative Solution) to meet a Performance Requirement.
A Performance Solution must comply with the Performance Requirements; or be at least equivalent to the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions, and be assessed according to one or more of the Assessment Methods.A Performance Solution will only comply with the NCC when the Assessment Methods used satisfactorily demonstrate compliance with the Performance Requirements.
Performance Solution wills only comply with the NCC when the Assessment Methods used satisfactorily demonstrate compliance with the Performance Requirements.
Required: When used in the Performance Requirements, the term means required to meet the Performance Requirement. When used in the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions, it means required to meet those provisions.
Sole-occupancy unit: A sole-occupancy unit is an area within a building for the exclusive use of the owner or occupier. It is irrelevant if the area is occupied by an individual, a number of people, or by a company. Exclusivity of use is the key factor in determining whether an area or room is a sole-occupancy unit.
Stairway: By definition, a stairway must include at least one flight. A flight must include not less than 2 risers and not more than 18 risers in each flight.
Storey: A storey extends from the floor level of the subject area to the floor level above, or, if the storey is at the top of the building, to the ceiling or roof.
Tactile Indicators: Warning Tactile Ground Surface Indicators (TGSIs) are intended only to be used for specific hazard identification in those areas identified within D3.8. This includes: at the top and bottom of stairways, escalators and ramps except those only leading to areas exempted under D3.4; and where there is an overhead obstruction less than 2 m above the floor along the pathway, in the absence of a suitable barrier that would prevent a person from hitting the overhead obstruction.
Unified Buildings: It is not unusual for authorities to receive plans proposing the joining of two or more buildings. Joining of buildings could be achieved by breaking openings through walls, or by joining the buildings by a tunnel, bridge or covered walkway. When joined, if the buildings jointly comply with all the requirements of the BCA applying as if they were a single building, they become a united building.
Verification Method: means a test, inspection, calculation or other method that determines whether a Performance Solution complies with the relevant Performance Requirements.