Domestic Building Code Review Group

The Minister for Lands and Planning established the Domestic Building Code Review Group in August 2015 to review the operation of the National Construction Code (NCC) in the Northern Territory (NT) in relation to residential construction.

The group is made up of building professionals nominated by representative industry associations.

It is an independent, non-statutory advisory body.

It will report to the minister by early June 2016.

Consultation

In addition to members of the group making representations on behalf of their industry associations, the group made direct contact with authorities and relevant experts.  

It is also heard from the community throughout the NT, and individuals with particular experiences, relating to the group’s terms of reference.

Newspaper advertising encouraged community input, with responses received through an online feedback form sent directly to the group.

Terms of reference

The terms of reference, as set by the NT government, are to:

  • analyse the comments received and recommend suggested amendments to the application of the NCC for residential buildings in the Northern Territory, having regard to the national regulatory framework
  • recommend variations that allow design flexibility in the varying climatic regions of the NT
  • remove unnecessary additions to the code that increase residential building costs for no valid reason
  • recommend ways to streamline or improve related NT government administrative processes.

The group will therefore broadly consider NCC-related issues throughout the NT, taking a regional approach.  

The advice to the minister will consider how better-fitting and more easily delivered housing can be delivered in the Territory, under the following broad topics.

Climatically responsive, energy efficient housing

As a part of Australia’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the NCC includes provisions for energy efficiency.  

A national methodology for calculating the energy efficiency of a building has been created to support these provisions. The methodology measures the likely heating and cooling loads required if you wanted to maintain the building within a certain temperature range.  

Local data is used to account for Australia’s diverse climates. In the NT, a 5-star rating (out of 10 possible stars) is considered the minimum requirement for houses to be approved for construction.

There are differing views in the community and amongst building professionals about whether this national methodology fully describes the most energy efficient, or regionally appropriate, housing, particularly in relation to tropical housing. 

The group will explore these views and propose any improvements to the NCC to provide for more inclusive minimum requirements for energy efficiency in NT housing.

Housing affordability

The group will identify any detail within the NCC which, in the opinion of the group, unnecessarily adds to the cost of residential building in the NT. 

Without compromising the NCC’s purpose of delivering 'safety, health, amenity and sustainability in design and construction,' the group will consider whether the NCC provisions are appropriate for the NT’s unique environmental and social contexts.

Administration

The NCC is the primary control tool in the development and construction industries.  

The group will therefore identify any areas for improvement in the administration of the NCC, including building approval, construction administration, regulation and auditing processes in the Territory. 

Membership and nominating organisation 

  • Phil Harris (chair), Troppo Architects
  • Ray Fogolyan, Association of Building Sustainability Assessors (energy assessor)
  • Christopher Lovewell, Association of NT Building Certifiers
  • Joanna Best, Australian Institute of Architects
  • Darron Lyons, Building Design Association of the NT
  • Edward Zajc, Building Designers Association of Victoria (energy assessor)
  • Adam James, Engineers Australia
  • Justin Gill, Housing Industry Association (residential builder)
  • Paul Nowland, Master Builders Association
  • Michael Watt, self-nominated

Contact

Building Advisory Services
Department of Lands, Planning and the Environment
bas.policy@nt.gov.au

Last updated: 03 May 2016