How NCC changes to residential plumbing and drainage will increase liveable housing design

The national construction code (NCC) is Australia’s primary set of technical design and construction provisions for buildings, building elements, and plumbing and drainage. The latest edition of the NCC 2022 has been available since October 1, 2022, while Australian states and territories will officially adopt it on May 1, 2023. The new NCC standards will significantly impact new residential construction, with major changes to waterproofing, accessibility, and energy efficiency.

The new provisions focus on the waterproofing of wet areas and weatherproofing of external walls, as well as changes to gradient requirements for surface finishes and new requirements around pipe sizing. There is also a new requirement for lead-free plumbing products designed to improve the long-term health of all Australians. From September 1, 2025, only products WaterMark certified conforming to the lead-free provisions will be authorised for use in plumbing installations.

The NCC 2022 edition also has new provisions to ensure new Australian homes are more suitable for people with mobility issues. It’s the first time the NCC has included liveable housing provisions, essentially harmonising and including access, mobility and amenity of Australian standards AS1428 into the Australian building codes board (BCA).

Liveable housing design refers to the practice of consciously designing and building homes to meet the changing needs of all occupants, including those with a disability or who are ageing, have temporary injuries, or have young children at some point during their lifetimes. The new liveable housing design mandate is a key focus of the code, providing minimum accessibility standards for all new class 1a and class 2 buildings across the country. A liveable home is designed to:

  • be easily accessible
  • be easy to navigate
  • be capable of easy and cost-effective adaptation
  • be responsive to the changing needs of the home’s occupants.

As per the NCC 2022 requirements, all single dwellings such as houses, units, apartments, and townhouses must have at least one ground-floor accessible bathroom and shower, and at least one accessible shower (not necessarily on the ground floor) which is step-free and hobless. It also means eliminating steps wherever possible, creating more room in the bathroom, widening doorways, and making provisions for future modifications such as grab rails, threshold ramps, handrails, and more.

Maintaining proper drainage is vital in bathrooms to ensure that water is removed effectively, safely, and efficiently. It’s also important in the transition between indoor and outdoor spaces. The level threshold requirements in the NCC 2022 require careful consideration of the types of drainage systems that should be specified within liveable homes. Linear threshold drainage systems are the ideal solution for preventing water accumulating in and around the home while helping to satisfy level threshold requirements.

Threshold drainage solutions are elegant yet functional, consisting of an external linear grate that sits in front of the door track. The grate is one of the key components of an effective drainage system and is designed to prevent debris from entering the drain while still letting water pass through freely. Linear grates are available in various styles such as wedge wire and many contemporary to traditional patterns. However, they don’t always evoke the desired visual concept. It is why Stormtech developed Wave Grate, which is made from anodised aluminium and features a wave pattern previously unseen in the market that is comfortable to walk on and more aesthetically pleasing while maintaining high flow rates.

The latest edition of the NCC will significantly change how new residential builds in Australia are designed and built. Most of the NCC 2022 will come into effect on May 1, 2023, creating a great opportunity for builders, architects, and contractors to support Australians with mobility limitations to transition through different life stages in their own homes.

As it’s mandatory for builders to satisfy the requirements mentioned in the NCC, understanding the term liveable housing design and how it relates to bathrooms, plumbing, and drainage systems is critical.


About Troy Creighton, Stormtech managing director

Troy Creighton has been the Managing Director of Stormtech Pty Ltd since 2003. Stormtech was founded by Troy’s father John in 1989 and Troy has been involved in the design and functionalities of linear drains from then on. After having worked with John for some time,Troy wanted to further his career in a corporate environment and went on to hold several positions in sales and marketing in building materials companies. After re-joining Stormtech in 2003, he has developed the company to be the market leader in architectural drainage solutions in Australia and has grown extensive overseas markets.