Spotlight on: NCC 2019 – what you need to know.

As you’ve likely heard, National Construction Code (NCC) 2019 came into effect on 1 May. The NCC amendment cycle changed from yearly to three-yearly in 2016, making 2019 kind of a big deal. 

While some changes won’t necessarily affect you and your business, there will most certainly be some that do, so it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the key changes, to ensure you don’t get caught out.*

What is the NCC?

In case you didn’t know, the NCC is a performance-based code containing all Performance Requirements for the construction of buildings. 

It’s built around a hierarchy of guidance and code compliance levels, with the Performance Requirements being the minimum level that buildings, building elements, and plumbing and drainage systems must meet. 

A building, plumbing or drainage solution will comply with the NCC if it satisfies the Performance Requirements, which are the mandatory requirements of the NCC. Sounds confusing right? Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds. The NCC is effectively ‘the rule book’ for building in Australia. And it’s broken up into three volumes. 

NCC Volumes

  • NCC Volume One primarily applies to Class 2 to 9 (multi-residential, commercial, industrial and public) buildings and structures.
  • NCC Volume Two primarily applies to Class 1 (residential) and 10 (non-habitable) buildings and structures.
  • NCC Volume Three applies to plumbing and drainage for all classes of buildings.

What’s changed?

If you’ve ever tried reading the NCC, you’ll know it’s akin to watching paint dry, so here’s a breakdown of the key changes to be aware of. 

All Volumes.


Quantifying many of the NCC Performance Requirements to provide more performance-based compliance options is a key feature of NCC 2019.  

You’ll see more Performance Requirements quantified with the introduction of 20 new Verification Methods (VMs). 


The ABCB’s readability project aims to improve the NCC requirements to be more readily understood. Introducing consistent NCC Governing Requirements is the first step of this major piece of work with all three Volumes of the NCC having the same requirements from 2019. 

Significant changes have also been made to the structure of NCC Volume Three, the Plumbing Code of Australia. 

NCC Volumes One and Two.


New VM for construction in bushfire-prone areas.

Health and amenity

New condensation management provisions.


New VMs for access to and from a building and for ramps.


Energy efficiency changes are subject to a 1 year transition period from 1 May 2019, during which time, either the NCC 2016 or NCC 2019 requirements may be used.

New heating and cooling load limits for residential buildings using the NatHERS DTS compliance pathway.

NCC Volume One only.


Fire sprinklers

New DTS Provisions for fire sprinkler systems, for apartment buildings and other residential buildings (i.e. Class 2 and 3 buildings) 4 storeys and above and up to 25 metres in effective height (generally those buildings 4 to 8 storeys).

Occupiable outdoor areas

New DTS Provisions clarifying requirements for occupiable outdoor areas, such as roof-top bars and cinemas. 

Fire safety VM

A new, non-mandatory VM for fire safety introduced (NCC Schedule 7). This VM can be used for developing a Performance Solution for up to 24 Performance Requirements. Its adoption will be delayed until 1 May 2020 to allow time for training and support. 


Energy efficiency

The commercial building energy efficiency requirements (i.e. Section J) are significantly changed, including new VMs for NABERS and Green Star. This change is subject to a 1 year transition period from 1 May 2019, during which time, either the NCC 2016 or NCC 2019 requirements may be used.


Accessible adult change facilities (AACF)

AACFs are sanitary facilities with additional features to assist people with more profound or complex disabilities who are unable to independently use standard accessible facilities. New requirements mean these facilities are required in certain new or redeveloped public buildings such as shopping centres, museums, theatres, sporting venues and airports.

NCC Volume Two only.

New and improved acceptable construction practices (ACPs), including new ACPs for masonry and attachment of decks and balconies and improved ACPs for roof and wall cladding and fire safety.

NCC Volume Three only.

New and consolidated requirements for heated water temperature control, cross-connection control and rainwater harvesting and use.

‘View’ the NCC your way.

The ABCB’s digitisation project is focusing on improving and enhancing NCC access and understanding through new and refreshed technologies in order to help you to understand the Code, whilst considering the range of abilities and needs of NCC users.

To help with this, the ABCB has improved the functionality, navigation and search-ability of the online Code. This means that whether you are reading Volume One, Two or Three you can easily find what you are looking for.

Want to know more about NCC 2019?

For full details of the changes and to access the NCC, make sure your details are up to date

*We endeavour to provide accurate material for Australian businesses consistent with Australian laws and regulations; however, this material is for reference only and is not designed to be, nor should it be regarded as professional advice.

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