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Construction code reform to save costs and improve safety

Federal and State Building Ministers have today signed off on a project to improve the National Construction Code which could reduce the cost of buildings in Australia without compromise on safety.

The project will be driven by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB).

The existing construction code contains the technical building and plumbing standards for the design and construction of all buildings and plumbing systems in Australia.

ABCB Chair John Thwaites says while the National Construction Code is already performance based the project will enhance the performance requirements to quantify them and make them measurable.

“This will provide greater certainty for the construction industry and make it easier and more cost effective for designers, builders and plumbers to meet the Code,” he says.

A recent report from the Centre for International Economics into the Benefits of Building Regulation Reform estimated benefits of approximately $1.1 billion a year accruing to the Australian economy due to the suite of reforms to building regulations, of which the performance based Code contributed around $780 million a year.

The Report further identified that the net benefits could double if certain system constraints were addressed, such as quantifying the performance requirements.

On top of reducing building and plumbing costs, the project also aim to reduce the risk to building occupants by making it easier to assess compliance with the Code and achieving the necessary levels of safety.

“Making performance requirements measures will reduce the risk of mistakes and provide a greater certainty that the necessary safety levels for the community are going to be achieved,” Thwaites adds.

ABCB General Manager Neil Savery says the project is a win-win situation for all.

“It allows economies in the design and construction of buildings and plumbing systems and at the same time gives greater comfort to governments that occupants in buildings are safe,” he says.

ABCB adds the bulk of the reforms are estimated to take around three years to achieve.

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