Building Codes

The Building Codes of Australia (BCA) shape the building permits around the country. The whole purpose of the building permit is actually to enforce building codes into the construction environment. There are multiple standards, each referring to the specific type of the construction process. These standards are revised and rewritten to constantly improve the quality of the building practices.

Building Codes and Building Classes

The Building Codes of Australia classify buildings by their use. It is important to classify your structure to ensure that it follows appropriate building codes. The building codes of Australia identifies 10 building classes:

  • Class 1 is for the single dwelling or attached dwelling where each dwelling is separated by a fire wall
  • Calss1b refers to one or more buildings that constitute a boarding house, hostel or a guest house
  • Class 2 is for a building containing 2 or more dwellings
  • Class 3 applies to a residential building for a number of people (large scale boarding house, hostel, school, etc)
  • Class 4 is a standard for a dwelling being part of the commercial building
  • Class 5 refers to office buildings
  • Class 6 provides standards for shops and other retailing structures
  • Class 7a applies to a car park building
  • Class 7b is for building operating a wholesale
  • Class 8 is used for buildings used for processing (laboratory, factory)
  • Class 9a is for clinics and hospitals
  • Class 9b refers to assembly buildings
  • Class 9c is used exclusively for the aged care facilities
  • Class 10a applies to non-habitable buildings (garages, sheds, etc)
  • Class 10b is dedicated for structures such as fences, walls, swimming pools

The building codes are divided into 2 volumes. The first one applies to the classes 2 to 9. The second volume deals with classes 1 and 10. This volume is also referred as the Housing Provisions

Volume One of Building Codes

The volume one of the building codes is split into 9 sections. The first section deals with administrative provisions. The rest is dedicated to the technical analysis. Each technical section deals with:

  • Objectives - how community will accept the project
  • Functional Statements - how to achieve the objectives
  • Performance requirements - the minimum standards required from the construction
  • Building solutions - the way the level of performance will be met.

Volume Two of Building Codes

The volume two is split into three sections. The first section deals general provisions. This part of the building codes has an administrative angle and refers to:

  • Building classification
  • Documents of Australian Standards
  • Definitions

The section two of the volume two applies to performance provisions. The final section three provides a guideline for an acceptable construction.

How To Find Building Codes?

The cheapest is to go to the local library and request the access. However, most libraries will not allow to print more than 10% of the document. Another option is to go online. The Australian Building Codes Board website (abcb.gov.au) is an authority on the building standards. They offer the service and updates about the building codes requirements. You can contact your local council to find out if you need to adhere to building codes and what requirements are needed for your structure.