National Construction Code changes

A comprehensive guide for building a new home

Recent changes to the national guidelines for home building mean that new home designs now have to meet additional regulations. The updated guidelines are the biggest changes to the home building code in Australia for 25 years.

The National Construction Code (NCC) 2022 introduces new Modern Homes standards for energy efficiency and accessibility in all new homes. The standards reflect higher demand for energy-efficient housing and meet national accessibility standards.

The changes passed in late 2022 and began in Queensland on 1 May 2023. A transition period applies to allow builders time to adjust home designs before the mandatory commencement date on 1 October 2023.

Although the new code applies Australia-wide, Queensland is the only state to move ahead with all residential National Construction Code 2022 code changes in 2023.

What is the National Construction Code (NCC)?

The National Construction Code (NCC) is a document that details technical guidelines for the design, construction and performance of buildings in Australia. The code also covers plumbing and drainage systems. It's a unifying standard that creates one cohesive code.

The NCC covers minimum standards for health, safety, accessibility and sustainability for buildings. The NCC standards align with global sustainability goals by promoting energy efficient design and environmentally responsible construction.

From the design and specifications to the materials used, the NCC shapes every aspect of the building process. The NCC encompasses a wide range of residential building types including houses, townhouses and other types of single-family dwellings.

The code also covers apartments, commercial, institutional, industrial and specialised buildings including hotels, offices, hospitals and schools.

The NCC and new home construction

Learning about the key NCC changes is a good idea if you're planning to build a new home. Here's why.

  • It can be helpful when selecting suitable builders, designs and materials.
  • You can ask more informed questions of your builder and better understand any design and contract information.
  • Calculate any cost savings based on energy-efficient home features over time.
  • Build a more accessible home from the outset that adapts to your family's various needs over time.
  • Understand the impact of the changes on design, space sizes, choice of windows, fixtures, fittings etc.
  • In the future, homes that meet NCC standards may be more sought after which may improve resale values.

To learn more and read the full NCC, visit the NCC website.

Why did the NCC change?

The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) made changes to the NCC to ensure new residential home builds are energy efficient, safe and liveable for everyone. The change will increase the number of accessible homes, supporting people with disabilities as well as elderly Australians.

Many of the changes are also ideal for families and households with young children, making it easier to enter, exit and move around the home.

An updated code also ensures all people building or buying a new home will have access to the same quality building, no matter where they are in the country.

What are the key changes?

Livable housing design standard

Under the Livable Housing Design Standard, homes must be accessible for elderly people and people with disabilities or mobility issues.

A liveable home is designed with the following in mind:

  • Easy entry and navigation inside and around the house.
  • It must be easy and inexpensive to adapt.
  • It should respond to the changing needs of its owners.

These features make tasks such as carrying groceries, arranging furniture and guiding prams or wheelchairs less difficult.

Built according to the Livable Housing Design Standard, a liveable home includes some of the following features.

  • A continuous, step-free path from the street entrance or parking area to a level entrance.
  • Internal doorways with a minimum clear opening width of 820 mm.
  • Internal corridors, halls and passages connected to internal doorways must have a minimum clear width of 1000 mm.
  • Easy access to a ground floor room with a toilet such as a bathroom or powder room.
  • At least one bathroom with a hobless and step-free shower entry located on any level
  • Walls reinforced around at least one toilet and shower to allow easy installation of rails in the future

Wet area waterproofing

Improved standards also cover waterproofing in wet areas to help prevent moisture damage and mould. Changes include:

  • New requirements for waterproof and water-resistant materials as well as finishing materials.
  • New waterproofing rules for floors and walls next to baths and spas.
  • New standards for step-free showers and open showers.

New minimum standards for energy efficiency

New residential energy efficiency standards designed to cut energy use and improve efficiency also form part of the NCC 2022 changes.

The changes are designed to make homes more comfortable to live in, save households money on energy bills over the long term and reduce emissions.

There are two components to the energy efficiency requirements.

  1. Annual energy use budget, also referred to as whole-of-home (WOH)
    A new annual energy use budget based on floor area and location needs to be met by new homes. This whole-of-home (WOH) energy efficiency requirement offsets energy-using features against renewable energy features to deliver a final score of minimum 60 out of 100 (where 100 is a net zero energy home).

    The energy-using component covers fixed items including heating, cooling, hot water, lighting and swimming pool pumps. Renewable energy features include solutions such as rooftop solar panels. While solar panels and other renewable systems are not mandated, they can be used to meet the annual energy budget.
  2. Minimum 7-star rating
    In addition to the WOH budget, new homes need to have a minimum 7-star rating out of 10 or equivalent (this was previously 6). A Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) assessment is the most common way to measure this rating. According to the government's NatHERS website, "a higher star rating means the home is more comfortable to live in and cheaper to run. Lower star ratings mean a home is more costly to keep comfortable."

    NatHERS uses modelling tools to predict the amount of energy it will take to heat and cool the home for year-round comfort based on the design, materials and construction. It takes into account the home's layout, colours, orientation, roof, walls, windows, floor, construction methods, materials, shading and natural airflow.

What are the benefits of the NCC changes?

  • Improved accessibility and liveability so everyone can access more areas of the home. This means families can stay in their homes for longer as they won't need to modify as much as they age.
  • Potential savings in energy costs due to the energy use budget and 7-star NatHERS energy efficiency rating for new homes.
  • Improved waterproofing changes designed to increase the accessibility, safety and longevity of homes.By setting new minimum standards and performance requirements for energy efficiency, the NCC encourages innovative design and contributes to the global push for greener living.

How is Plantation Homes implementing the changes?

The new NCC guidelines became official in Queensland on 1 May 2023, with a transition phase to October 2023. The additional time was provided to give the building industry time to meet the new rules.

Our design team has taken almost 12 months to remodel our most popular designs. They’ve left no stone unturned to find the most cost-effective way to deliver designs that are both energy-efficient and beautiful to live in.

All our homes are 7-star energy efficient regardless of lot orientation. Our new floorplans champion the Plantation Homes reputation of luxury, sustainability, design, functionality and liveability. From the façade and orientation of your block of land to the floorplan, with every window, fan, internal inclusion and climate zone considered.

Our team of energy experts have created an energy rating calculator, which calculates the energy performance of your specific lot, taking into account the orientation, house design and façade you have chosen, location of your garage (right or left side) and of our popular structural options you’ve selected. This is not an industry calculator, this is a leading tool created by our energy expert team to give you total confidence with your 7-star quote! So, when you receive a quote from us, you will have absolute certainty on the price we quote when it comes to your home achieving 7-star compliance, regardless of the orientation of your block of land. Unlike some other builders, you won’t find ambiguous provisional sums in our quotes, which later translate to expensive upgrades once you have committed to them.

See our 7-star Home Designs

Commonly asked questions

Q: How does the NCC promote energy efficiency?

A: The NCC has established new minimum standards for energy efficiency in new homes. This aligns with global sustainability goals and encourages designs that cut energy use.

Q: When do the NCC changes take effect in Queensland?

A: Some of the National Construction Code 2022 changes, including waterproofing, took effect in Queensland on 1 May 2023. A transition period applies to the liveability and energy efficiency requirements until 1 October 2023. All new homes constructed after this time must meet the new requirements and Modern Homes standards.

Q: Is there a tool to evaluate whether my housing specifications meet the NCC requirements?

A: The Australian government is developing an app to evaluate whether a housing spec meets the whole of home NCC requirements. It's not available yet but it should be in the near future.

Q: Are all builders in Queensland complying with the new NCC changes?

A: Compliance with the transitional NCC changes will be mandatory from 1 October 2023. However, it is possible to achieve a 7-star rated home now based on the existing NatHERS tools.

Q: Where can I find more information about the changes and how they are being implemented by Plantation Homes?

A: You can explore our Reserve Collection or home designs for all new designs that achieve a 7-star rating. More information is available on the National Construction Code website. Or chat with our sales team at a display centre.

Q: How does the NCC contribute to the creation of environmentally sustainable homes?

A: The NCC requires builders to embrace building designs and features that reduce energy consumption. This performance solution will help to minimise environmental impact.

Q. What does the NCC mean for building a new home?

A: These compulsory changes mean your new home will be accessible, comfortable and energy efficient. The changes are designed to reduce household energy costs due to the implementation of an annual energy use budget and a 7-star NatHERS energy efficiency rating for new homes.

View our 7-star house designs