Australian Building Codes Board Survey: Performance Solutions in Access

Accessible Car Parking in a basement car park, with two spaces and a central shared area between each space

Australian Building Codes Board LogoThe Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) is undertaking a project in relation to the Increased Use and Quantification of Performance. This forms part of the project attempting to create an enabling environment for the increased use and acceptance of Performance Solutions.

As a part of this project the ABCB are examining the use of Performance Solutions as a means of showing compliance with the NCC Performance Requirements in the area of disability access.

While the use of performance-based design provides the opportunity to deliver tailored, cost effective building solutions, there is generally heavy reliance on the use of the prescriptive Deemed-to-Satisfy (DtS) provisions.
ABCB Performance Solutions in Access Survey Question 1The purpose of this survey is to gather information on the use of Performance Solutions relating to disability access and egress and inform options to further support their use.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WVNN82L
Lady in wheelchair using passenger liftThis survey is directed at industry practitioners who may be involved in the development or assessment of performance-based designs for access and egress of occupants with disability. is specifically directed at building surveyors and designers and access consultants.

The survey is specifically directed at building surveyors, designers and access consultants.

The survey is anticipated to take 10 to 15 minutes to complete depending on the level of information provided.

The survey closes on 20 December and everyone involved in construction and refurbishment projects is encouraged to participate.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WVNN82L

New Video describing the Access Peer Review process and benefits

Access Peer Review StampHi, I am pleased to announce that the first of my YouTube videos has been uploaded. In this video, we describe the peer review process, discuss access consultants, the benefits of a peer review and measures to ensure compliance and mitigate risk. It’s only a short video, so grab a cup of tea and enjoy.

Closed captioning is available, just click the button on the bottom right hand side, next to the ‘cog’, after the video starts to play to bring up the sub-titles.

Thank you

Lee Wilson, Disability Access Consultant

Victorian ‘Red Tape Commissioner’, Building Surveyor Functions & Peer Reviews

Access Peer Review StampI just read an interesting article by Justin Cotton from Lovegrove, Smith & Cotton Lawyers on the latest reforms to the Victorian building industry. I’d encourage everyone to read the article.

There will soon be reforms to who can be a building surveyor on a project and issue the building permit(s), as well as other functions of the relevant building surveyor. This essentially allows the functions of a building surveyor to move from the ‘individual’ to the ‘corporation’ so that the business issuing the permit can continue to work on the project without the inefficiencies of having to discharge and transfer responsibilities between staff. It is a practical solution to staff absences, annual leave and building surveyors changing companies.

This will mean a building surveying practice can register as a building surveyor, as well as individual building surveyors.

Justin also comments on the Victorian Building Authority (VBA), which was established last year to replace the old Building Commission. The VBA has been conducting extensive audits of building permits issued by both Council and private building surveyors and disciplinary action, including de-registration, has taken place.

Justin discussed the issue of Alternative Solutions used in the building certification process in Victoria and highlights VBA’s concerns over the use of fire engineering to satisfy the performance requirements of the BCA.  It’s no surprise that the VBA wants all fire engineered Alternative Solutions to be independently peer reviewed and certified as being compliant by another fire engineer or performance qualified registered building surveyor. I’m sure it won’t be long before the spotlight turns to the use of Alternative Solutions for ‘access’ provisions of the BCA.

The VBA have also reinforced the requirement for the relevant building surveyor to be totally independent of the design of the building and that they should not cross the line of giving their client advice to designing the solution (i.e. designing the Alternative Solution).

Please also read my pages on ‘Access Peer Reviews‘,

AS1428 Suite of Standards

The Australian Standard 1428 suite of standards are the main accessibility standards used within the built environment in Australia.

Rialto Towers, 525 Collins Street MelbourneThe standards provide guidance on the requirements for people with disabilities.

There are five parts to the suite, though it is important to note that only Part 1 and Part 4 have been referenced within the BCA, the remaining three parts are considered best practice under the DDA:

  • AS 1428.1-2009
Design for access and mobility – General requirements for access – New building work
  • AS 1428.2-1992
Design for access and mobility – Enhanced and additional requirements – Buildings and facilities
  • AS 1428.3-1992
Design for access and mobility – Requirements for children and adolescents with physical disabilities
  • AS/NZS 1428.4.1:2009
Design for access and mobility – Means to assist the orientation of people with vision impairment – Tactile ground surface indicators
  • AS 1428.5-2010
Design for access and mobility – Communication for people who are deaf or hearing impaired

The objectives of the standards are to provide guidance to industry on the minimum design requirements for new building work to enable access for people with disabilities.

By Lee Wilson, Disability Access / DDA Consultant, Melbourne, Victoria

Building Code of Australia Objectives

What are the Building Code of Australia’s Objectives?

Eureka Tower, Southbank, MelbourneThe objectives of the BCA are to ‘enable the achievement of nationally consistent, minimum standards of relevant, health, safety (including structural safety and safety from fire), amenity and sustainability objectives efficiently’ (ABCB 2013).

By Lee Wilson, Disability Access / DDA Consultant, Melbourne, Victoria

The National Construction Code

The National Construction Code (NCC) ‘is an initiative of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) developed to incorporate all on-site construction requirements into a single code’ (ABCB 2013).

The NCC comprises the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and the Plumbing Code of Australia:

  • Volume One: BCA (primarily Class 2 to 9 buildings)
  • Volume Two: BCA (primarily to Class 1 and 10 buildings)
  • Volume Three: Plumbing Code of Australia

The BCA is published by the Australian Building Codes Board and has been updated and published on an annual basis since 1996.  The BCA is adopted by reference into each State or Territories building legislation.

By Lee Wilson, Disability Access / DDA Consultant, Melbourne, Victoria