Standards relating to the construction of buildings in Australia should be freely available, building industry suppliers have said.

Responding to the release of an interim report of the Senate Economics Reference Committee into non-compliant building products, the Building Products Innovation Council has thrown its support behind a proposal to make Australian standards freely available online.

“BPIC has long argued that regulatory codes and especially Australian standards be free to access and use,” BPIC chief executive officer Rodger Hills said, “and now the Senate Inquiry agrees.”

The latest comments follow a recommendation from the Committee that the Commonwealth Government consider making all Australian standards available online at no charge.

Whilst the National Construction Code is freely available online, the standards which it references are not.

According to the Master Builders Association, there are more than 100 primary reference standards which are specified in the National Construction Code and several hundred more secondary referenced standards.

At an average cost of $120 per document, Master Builders says that this cost represents a barrier to compliance.

When the cost of the NCC and its Guide was reduced from more than $300 per year to zero, Master Builders points out that the number of registered users jumped from 12,000 to 140,000.

The Senate Committee agreed, saying it was ‘dismayed’ that building practitioners are expected to pay unreasonable sums of money to access the standards.

Making the standards free, it said, would help to raise NCC compliance levels and reduce the overall cost of both compliance and insurance.

In the BPIC statement, Hills acknowledged that the process of making standards free would be a significant undertaking but argued that the benefits would outweigh the costs.

He says access to free standards would help to create a well-informed cohort of educated designers, specifiers, suppliers, builders, installers and certifiers.

This was especially critical, he said, as Australia moved progressively away from Deemed-to-Satisfy solutions toward performance solutions.

  • Finally common sense!

  • Thank you, Thank you Andrew for the article.

    I have been saying to people that the law of the land should not be a secret for twenty years.
    "Ignorance of the law is not an excuse" but if you do not have the means you cross your fingers and keep going.
    That has been the way in the building industry for the last forty years when the mountains of regulations would be issued with the only information available has been a number that may be applicable to the current project.
    The very inadequate BCA is at least now available on line. I wonder if anyone has looked around the World to see a better way of doing things. We do not have to reinvent the wheel.
    Money taken out of the CSIRO is very obvious on how the building industry is functioning. When we did not have the internet we had a telephone line to the CSIRO. That was lost many decades ago.
    When Governments are not interested in Governing and skills and experience of people are not treasured; we have to re-invent the wheel time after time. People sell socks one day and run Government offices the next. How heartbreaking is it to see good people run away and even end up overseas. Australia giving away its treasure again.

  • This is a no-brainer! I just bought an Australian Standard and it cost me $450 for a PDF document! That is insane! No wonder most tradies and builders have no idea what the standards actually say! They can't even afford to read them.
    I serve on the board of an industry organisation that contributed our time and expertise to help develop and update the standard, and to have to then pay for it as well is just a complete rip-off.