More Accessible and Energy Efficient Queensland Homes

Brisbane real estate agent

There’s a bit of a shakeup heading the way of the residential construction industry, with changes to the National Construction Code coming into place at the start of October in Queensland. These changes are designed to make new builds easier to access for disabled people, as well as making them more energy efficient.  

We want to break them down for you in a bit of a question and answer session. Of course, if what you want to know isn’t covered here, please get in touch with The Henry Wong Team® and we can have a chat about it. 

What is the NCC (National Construction Code)?

decline in construction approvalsEvery home built in Australia has to meet a set of minimum requirements. The NCC is a performance based code that contains these compliance requirements as well as offering guidance information. It’s designed by the Australian Building Codes Board, on behalf of the Federal Government and each state and territory government. If you’re building a new home anywhere in the country, you want to make sure it’s on the right side of the NCC, especially as it gets updated every three years. 

What are the Latest Changes to the NCC?

Let’s look at this in two parts, because there are more than two changes, these are the major ones we want to talk about today.

Part 1: Embracing Energy Efficiency

Australia is committed to a greener future, which is clearly evident in the role housing efficiency has played in the updated NCC. More sustainable homes and lower power bills will be the result! Two points stand out: 

  • The minimum star rating of the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NHERS) is being raised from 6 stars to 7 stars. 
  • There will also be an annual energy usage budget in place that new build homes have to meet. 

Meeting the two above stipulations will require changes in the design and build of new homes which you will need to talk to your builder about. 

Part 2: Liveable Housing Design Requirements

According to the Queensland Government, these changes will “ensure that new houses and units are designed and constructed to be more accessible for everyone including older people, people with disability, families with young children and people with temporary mobility injuries”.

Some of the changes include: 

  • Having at least one step-free entry into a home.
  • Designing wider internal doors and corridors for easier movement through a home.
  • One step-free access into a bathroom and shower.
  • Having at least one accessible toilet, i.e. a ground floor toilet in a two storey home. 
  • Bathroom and toilet walls to be strengthened for installation of handrails down the track.

These changes will help usher in a new era of liveability in Australian homes, where homes are more comfortable and adaptable for people of all abilities. 

When Do the NCC Changes Come Into Place?

The raft of changes are part of what’s referred to as NC 2022, because they were decided on by the states and territories in 2022. Queensland is actually the first state to start implementing the changes, and they started getting phased in on October 1 2023. Most other states and territories have committed to 2024 phasing in.

Will the Cost of New Builds Go Up?

The cost of building a new home is likely to go up slightly, with ballpark figures putting the rate at between 1 and 2%. Energy efficient measures such as solar panels and better insulation will cost more initially, but the good news is you’ll save money over time. In fact, according to Queensland Minister for Energy Mick de Brenni, “new home owners could save an average of $185 per year on electricity bills due to solar panels and better insulation.Building approvals down

Do the NCC Changes Apply to Existing Buildings?

No, they do not. They only apply to contracts signed after the NCC 2022 changes come into effect. If you’re contract was signed before they came into effect, the changes don’t apply even if construction hasn’t commenced on your home. 

Are There Any Exemptions to the Code Changes?

There are some exemptions. The one that is particularly interesting to residents of Brisbane is that the step free entry requirements aren’t applicable to iconic Queenslander style homes. There’s also an exemption from installing an accessible bathroom on a lower level if it doesn’t have a habitable room there. Your builder will definitely be able to go over any exemptions that may apply to your build with you.

Will The Changes Have Any Effect on the Real Estate Market?

It’s unlikely to have a major effect on the prices of existing properties coming onto the market for sale. 

When buying or selling a home, you need to do what’s right for your family at the time. If that’s building a new, accessible home with improved energy efficiency because that fits in with your life plan, then these NCC changes will be great for you! 

As always, if you have any questions about the real estate market, or would like an appraisal of your current home, give Henry a call on 0412 471 588.