Several industry and consumer organisations have called upon the Western Australian Government to reconsider the decision to delay the implementation of the National Construction Code (NCC) 2019 by a further 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fifteen organisations representing affected WA manufacturers, fabricators, professional service providers and members of the community, including Australian Institute of Architects, Property Council of Australia and Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) have raised concerns over the Government’s decision to delay the implementation of the updated code, given the impact it will have on several building projects and their future occupants.

NCC 2019 introduced significant enhancements to fire safety, condensation risk management, engineering and energy efficiency, which will now be delayed for two years in total including the 12 months provided for transition.

The updated code ushered in a new era for energy efficiency of buildings in Australia, referencing thermal bridging for the first time in the local construction industry’s history and setting tougher standards for thermal compliance. Furthermore, NCC 2019 introduced new building requirements for fire safety, including in bushfire prone areas. All of these benefits will be denied to local homeowners due to the delayed implementation of NCC 2019 in WA.

Kingspan Insulation regional MD and current chair of Insulation Australasia, Scott Gibson has joined a coalition of organisations calling for the WA Government to reconsider its position, given that the installation of up to two million square metres of insulation is at stake, along with the associated employment and value it brings to the industry.

“While some builders have lobbied for this to delay the costs associated with complying to NCC 2019, First Home Buyers of houses or apartments would be alarmed to hear that their building would not be built to the most recent building standards; neither would they like to learn of the associated long-term impact it would have on safety, insurance, energy efficiency and resale value,” Gibson observed.

This decision comes at a time when recent research by ASBEC and ClimateWorks showed how better energy standards for new buildings in Western Australia could reduce energy costs by up to $4 billion, delivering at least 10 million tonnes of cumulative emissions savings and saving households up to $1,000 per year in energy bills by 2050.

Western Australia is the only state in Australia not to have transitioned to NCC 2019. Some of the changes introduced in NCC 2019, in fact, aimed to close a loophole that allowed homes to be built below the national 6-Star minimum standard with many taking advantage of the verification method using a reference building (VURB), rather than building to a specific energy star rating.