Performance Based Building Codes and the Premises Standards

The Commonwealth Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards (or the ‘Premises Standards’) were enacted on 1 May 2011 under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. Initially there was a little confusion within the building industry as to whether the Premises Standards allowed the use of ‘Alternative Solutions’ to achieve compliance. Well, the answer is “Yes, Alternative Solutions can be used for access issues”.

Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces, with missing pieceThe Building Code of Australia and the Premises Standards allow the use of ‘Alternative Solutions’ by using the ‘Performance Requirements’ within these documents in lieu of the prescriptive ‘Deemed-to-Satisfy’ provisions.

This is confirmed in the Guidelines to the Premises Standards (version 2):

“The Premises Standards allow for innovative solutions to meet the Performance Requirements of the Access Code through the development of new technologies and through the use of alternative approaches, so long as the proposed solution satisfies the Performance Requirements of the Access Code”.

The Access Code within the Premises Standards is essentially aligned with the access provisions of the Building Code of Australia (with a few minor differences here and there) and the two documents are generally consistent. Both documents include a number of Performance Requirements and Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions, which reference specific access standards.

The Performance Requirements can be satisfied by compliance with the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions, by the development and acceptance of a suitable alternative approach (in other words the ‘Alternative Solution’) or a combination of both.

See for the Performance Based Building Codes page more details.

Read on about the risks of accepting an ‘Alternative Solution’ for an access provision of the Premises Standards, using ‘Expert Judgement’ only.

By Lee Wilson, Disability Access Consultant / DDA Consultant, Melbourne, Victoria. Lee is an Accredited Member of the Association of Consultants in Access, Australia Inc.

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