National Update: New Accessibility Standards

30 Apr 2021

, News

UDIA Member Alert from Simon Basheer, UDIA National President

A majority of the nation’s building ministers today agreed to include minimum accessibility provisions for residential housing and apartments in the National Construction Code (NCC) 2022 based on the Livable Housing Design Guidelines (LHDG) silver standards.

However, the decision does provide some flexibility as to how, when and what exclusions may apply to the implementation of the regime in individual jurisdictions.

UDIA National and our state divisions had argued for a more voluntary, incentive-based approach and cautioned that a mandatory regime would impose significant costs and red tape on new housing construction.

The decision of the building ministers follows a long consultative process we had engaged with, including a submission on Regulatory Impact Statements and making our case to federal and state ministers.

We are at least pleased there was some discretion applied to the decision, with the Communique issued by building ministers stating:

“Ministers are mindful of potential impacts to industry as they continue adjusting to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each state and territory will be free to determine whether and how the new provisions will be applied in their jurisdiction to minimise the regulatory impact on the construction sector.”

If applied in full, the seven elements of the LHDG silver standards currently are:

  1. A safe continuous and step free path of travel from the street entrance and / or parking area to a dwelling entrance that is level.
  2. At least one, level (step-free) entrance into the dwelling.
  3. Internal doors and corridors that facilitate comfortable and unimpeded movement between spaces.
  4. A toilet on the ground (or entry) level that provides easy access.
  5. A bathroom that contains a hobless shower recess.
  6. Reinforced walls around the toilet, shower and bath to support the safe installation of grabrails at a later date.
  7. Stairways are designed to reduce the likelihood of injury and also enable future adaptation.

Further work will now be done by building officials and the Australian Building Codes Board on how to potentially give effect to the decision, including exclusions.

UDIA National will continue to engage in the process, including the work being undertaken in each state and territory, to seek to mitigate the risks of the decisions and impacts on housing construction and homebuyers.

A full copy of the building minister’s Communique can be read here.

Simon Basheer

UDIA National President