Australian Construction Code (NCC) Could Allow For Taller Timber Buildings


Australian developers and architects may be able to build taller timber buildings, if Forest and Wood Products Australia’s (FWPA) proposal is approved by the

Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB).

The proposal aims to include a deemed-to-satisfy requirement in the

National Construction Code (NCC) for the use of wood up to 25-metres.

ABCB’s current codes do not specifically restrict the use of wood in high buildings, but make it difficult and costly to do so. One of the reasons is the need for extensive fire engineering.

Ric Sinclair, Managing Director of FWPA, said the proposal is designed to be conservative and to ensure occupant safety whilst being commercially viable.

“What we want to do is take lightweight timber construction, which can be used for up to three storeys for both Class 2 and Class 3 buildings much higher, but also introduce mass timber construction like Cross Laminated Timber [into the building code],” Mr Sinclair said.

“One of the advantaged of this proposal is it’s element of deregulation.

“A deemed-to-satisfy requirement allows a safe harbour – if you meet the criteria, then it’s accepted by the building inspectors.”

The change could have a significant impact on the construction industry. The code would decrease the cost for constructing tall timber buildings.

FWPA is currently in talks with a range of industry professionals to ensure the industry is aware of the proposal and possible changes.

Sinclair added that they are undertaking a ‘Monte Carlo’ analysis, whereby what if’ scenarios are recognised and addressed to ensure people are able to get out of timber buildings safely, in the unlikely chance of the sprinklers failing.

The proposal will be submitted on February 1, 2015, and if approved will be implemented in 2016.

Image via Fire Safety Systems

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