Mandatory requirements for the development of performance solutions could be inserted into the National Construction Code (NCC) under proposals currently under consideration to improve the accountability surrounding performance requirement processes and accountability.

The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) has released on online survey which aims to seek feedback on how performance solutions are being used at the moment and the likely effect of introducing mandatory requirements surrounding how they are prepared and developed.

The survey follows a request from the Building Ministers Forum for the ABCB to consider the inclusion of mandatory requirements in the Code for the process of developing and preparing performance solutions.

These requirements would focus areas such as consultation, analysis and documentation in respect of the performance solutions concerned.

Such requirements, the ABCB says, would align with processes outlined in the ABCB’s Guideline for the Development of Performance Solutions.

Under that guideline, the ABCB recommends that those developing performance solutions should:

  • Prepare a performance-based design brief (PBDB), which becomes the platform upon which the proposed design is constructed and which records fundamental activities and outcomes of the performance-based design process as agreed during negotiations with key stakeholders.
  • Carry out specific analysis, modelling or testing as appropriate for the particular solution in question.  
  • Collate and evaluate results according to acceptance criteria which have been agreed to in the PBDB; and
  • Prepare a final report which demonstrates that compliance with the NCC performance requirements which have been identified in the PBDB have been achieved.

The latest moves come amid criticism of performance solutions and a desire to improve the transparency and accountability surrounding how these are developed.

Amid a range of building failures of recent times, there have been concerns about performance solutions being used as a means to reduce costs – with potentially negative impacts upon building quality and safety.

In addition, the ABCB says current practise in respect of how performance solutions are being developed and documented can vary widely.

This, it says, can impact the quality of the built outcome.

In an email, the ABCB said it was seeking feedback, which would help to shape the development of the draft Code provisions.

“The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) is interested to hear the views of stakeholders on how Performance Solutions are being developed currently and how they should be developed in the future,” the ABCB said.

“The ABCB is considering the inclusion of mandatory requirements in the National Construction Code (NCC) for the development of Performance Solutions.

“To commence this process, the ABCB is seeking feedback from stakeholders to help inform the development of the draft NCC provisions for public consultation and the associated regulation impact analysis.”

Questions on which the board wants feedback include:

  • The percentage of projects on which performance solutions are used
  • The most common areas in which performance solutions are used (structural, fire, access, egress etc.)
  • The objectives behind using performance solutions
  • Whether or not better or worse outcomes are typically achieved when using performance solutions.
  • Whether or not performance solutions typically result in higher or lower costs compared with DTS solutions.
  • Whether use of performance solutions is likely to increase or decrease in the future
  • The adequacy or otherwise with which aforementioned steps currently spelled out in the aforementioned ACBC Guideline are undertaken at the moment.
  • The impact of requiring stakeholders to be consulted in the development of performance based design briefs and acceptance criteria in all cases in terms of cost effectiveness, timeliness, building solutions, building outcomes, use of performance based design and insurance premiums.
  • Whether or not using the guidelines for the development of performance based solutions would ultimately change the building solution which is ultimately adopted.
  • The elements which are currently documented to support performance solutions in most cases (applicable performance requirements; list of relevant stakeholders; acceptance criteria and how they were agreed; analysis, modelling and testing of results; reports and clear evaluation against NCC requirements).
  • The effect of preparing a performance solution using a process consistent with the guideline on professional fees.

Feedback is open until September 26.

Feedback is being sought from commercial builders, residential builders, plumbers, building surveyors and certifiers, architects and designers, engineer, disability access consultants, energy efficiency consultants, fire safety consultants, building health consultants and government officials.