The 2015 National Construction Code (NCC) and future editions will be made available online and for free.

A forum of State and Federal Government building ministers on Friday agreed in principle to eliminating the NCC’s purchase price of almost $400, improving small business’ access to the NCC, and increasing the number of building and plumbing practitioners able to access using the NCC from 12,000 to around 200,000 across Australia.

 Registered users will be able to view the free NCC 2015 online in a web browser or download a PDF file. To get access to the free online NCC 2015, you will be able to preā€register from December 1, 2014 by visiting the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) website.

Details are to be finalised in the coming months.

Ministers also agreed to measures limiting variations to the NCC which are expected to lead to greater consistency in building regulations across the states and territories.

The Australian Institute of Building (AIB) welcomed the decision, which it has been seeking for several years, including campaign in the early 2000s called "Set the BCA free".

AIB chief executive officer Robert Hunt said it “will go a long way to improving the uptake and the adherence rates to the National Construction Code.”

“Removing the $400 cost to purchase the National Construction Code will result in better quality, safer and more affordable construction, and will help to build Australia’s productivity.”

“Measures to ensure greater consistency in building regulations across the states and territories, by limiting variations to the NCC will also assist professional builders.”

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry Bob Baldwin said the Government is working with industry to ensure that regulations for the building sector are both effective and efficient. He added that the Government would work “methodically and consistently” on reforms to build productivity.

“Agreeing to eliminate costs associated with buying the code will make it more accessible to the industry and mean that the building and construction sector can keep abreast of the latest changes.”

The NCC provides model regulations for buildings and plumbing and is given effect through state and territory legislation. It sets minimum requirements for the design, construction and performance of buildings throughout Australia.

The ABCB has published a frequently asked questions document on the Free National Construction Code (NCC) which you can here access below.