The next edition of the National Construction Code (NCC) is coming in 2022, with some important changes to its structure and format. The new look NCC will have a consistent volume structure as part of a range of improvements, to deliver a code that is user-friendly and modern. Here’s what you can expect with the code’s new consistent volume structure.
To support practitioners through these changes ahead of Public Comment Draft in May, the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) has developed a suite of resources that explain how and why the NCC is changing, and what it means in practice. Head to their dedicated resource page for all the info.
For the ABCB to continue delivering a code that is future-focussed and understood by a broad range of practitioners, one the key goals of the next round of NCC improvements has been to augment the code’s machine-readability. This opens the door to hugely beneficial digital enhancements such as the personalised filtering of content.
To achieve this, the code must have a consistent structure, with information presented in a uniform and predictable way. But because the NCC has evolved over many years – with volumes drafted in different ways for different purposes – its current structure doesn’t allow this.
Looking at the history of the code’s clause structure, for what was originally a loose-leaf print publication first released in 1996, NCC Volume Two was purposefully structured very differently to Volumes One and Three. It was developed as a stand-alone ‘housing code’, designed to mostly reflect the on-site building process, and has proven both successful and popular with the housing industry over many years.
However, its unique structure also presented a challenge for digitisation. This wasn’t an issue back in 1996, but is a critically important reform for the NCC today.
So to achieve an NCC structure that is consistent across and within all Volumes, yet preserves the approach to Volume Two as a ‘housing code’, the ABCB developed a new Information Architecture (IA) that will be introduced in NCC 2022.
What is Information Architecture?
You may have heard of IA before, but if not, a metaphor will go a long way in explaining what it means in this context. IA is to a digital product what a set of house plans are to a builder. It acts like a set of instructions for where everything needs to go and in what order, so things don’t fall apart. Strong IA lays the foundation for the rest of the NCC to be rolled-out in a logical and consistent way, so it can be used and interpreted by as many practitioners as possible (and so that software can interpret it too). After all, you can’t build a house without a clear set of plans.
How did they do this?
The ABCB began with an analysis of the various parts of the code, to understand what could change without altering the intent of it in any way.
The new IA will have very little impact on Volumes One and Three. The big change will be to Volume Two. Section 1 will remain unchanged, and Section 2 will form the basis of seven individual Parts which will each contain both Performance Requirements and Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions, just like in Volumes One and Three. However, the bulk of Section 3 will be relocated, in its existing order, into its own publication called the ‘ABCB Housing Provisions’.
The Housing Provisions will contain the Acceptable Construction Practice (ACP) content of Volume Two. The 12 Parts will each act as an ABCB Standard, but are compiled into one publication for simplicity. And just like in earlier editions of Volume Two, the Housing Provisions can be divided up as separate standards for the different trades working on-site.
The Acceptable Construction Manual (ACM) content of Volume Two however, will be unchanged. Practitioners will still have the choice of using either the ACM or ACP where both are available, but with a change in terminology. Instead of ACM and ACP, the Deemed-to-Satisfy (DtS) Provisions in each Part will, in most cases, simply refer to chapters of the Housing Provisions and/or relevant Australian Standards (or similar). And in this way, Volume Two’s DtS clauses are now structured exactly the same way as the rest of the NCC.
So what we’re left with is a Volume Two which is much smaller, but with much more targeted content. The diagram shows the reorganised NCC Volumes.
So while your new NCC may look a bit different at first, the new IA and CVS ensure the NCC is organised in a much more logical and practical way, with Volumes that are tailored towards the particular sectors.
This means the NCC will be easier to read, understand and reference, leading to greater adoption across industry. It also means new entrants to the building and plumbing industries only have to learn a single volume structure, and of course, it will be machine-readable.
What about the rest of the changes, you might ask? Check out the ABCB’s suite of resources for in-depth information on each of the key changes to NCC 2022. But if you have a question or concerns in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us NCCOnlinefirstname.lastname@example.org.