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New building requirements that will impact all new home builds in Victoria

If you are considering building a new home in Victoria, this is a must read. This article will dive into the changes that the latest building requirements brings and how these updates will impact construction of your new home in Victoria.

We know that the world of construction is ever evolving and constantly shaping the way we build our homes, with advancements across the industry including technology, materials, and safety practices.

One significant influencer on this journey is the National Construction Code (NCC), a comprehensive set of guidelines and regulations that govern construction practices in Australia. Major reforms to these guidelines begun in Victoria from May 2024 and will make new homes more sustainable, accessible and cheaper to run.

These recent updates to the NCC now require that new home designs meet additional regulations. These revisions represent the most substantial changes to Australia's home building code in 25 years.

Some states have already implemented the changes as part of transitional arrangements agreed to by the government. Victoria opted for a two-stage rollout with some provisions adopted in 2023 and the remaining set to start from 1 May 2024.


Here's what you need to know if you're thinking of building a new home:


New 7 Star Rating

Under new changes introduced by the NCC all Victorian homebuilders will now be required to adopt a new minimum standard for newly constructed homes, increasing from 6 to 7 stars.

This star rating is a measure of the energy needed to heat and cool a home. The higher the rating, the more comfortable a home is to live in and cheaper to operate. It may seem like a small increase, but there’s a big difference in energy consumption between a 6 and 7-star home. A 7-star home is expected to use up to 25% less energy to run than a 6-star home! It is worth noting however that with this increase in requires comes an increase in the upfront cost to build a home.

The Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) modelling tool used to gain a star rating, forecasts the energy needed to heat and cool the home for year-round comfort and considers factors such as:

  • design and materials used
  • layout and construction methods
  • colours selected
  • orientation on the block
  • roof, walls, windows and floors
  • shading and natural airflow

Different factors will affect thermal performance ratings in warm and cool climates, for example, a lighter roof and external walls can help keep a home cooler in a warm climate.


An ‘Energy Budget’ for your home

The changes to the NCC will also introduce a new ‘Whole of Home’ approach.

Alongside the minimum 7-star rating for thermal efficiency, a new ‘energy budget’ will be applied that takes into account efficient appliances and solar, as well as your floor area and location.

The energy budget sets a maximum annual energy use for heating and cooling, hot water and lighting (and swimming pool and spa pumps where relevant). Under the new rules, new homes must achieve a minimum score of 60 out of 100, where 100 represents a net-zero energy home. While there is no obligation to install solar panels and other renewable systems, they can contribute to meeting a home's annual energy budget.


Livable housing design

Updates from May 1 2024, also include new livable housing design standards and requires that new residential buildings contain certain accessibility features. More comprehensive than any other changes in the past, these new standards cover the design and layout of the home internally such as wider hallways, wider doorways and ground floor access.

The new housing provisions are designed to ensure ease of entry and navigation both within and around the home. The aim is to enable dwellings to better meet the needs of all, including older people and those with mobility limitations. Livable housing design also supports future cost-effective adaptations to accommodate the evolving needs of occupants, meaning we are able to live in our homes for longer.

A home built in accordance with the livable housing design standard should incorporate several features, including:

•          Particular internal doorways with a minimum clear opening width of 820 mm.

•          Particular internal corridors, halls, and passages connected to internal doorways must have a minimum clear width of 1000 mm.

•          Easy access to a ground floor room with toilet facilities, such as a bathroom or powder room.

•          At least one bathroom equipped with a hobless and step-free shower entry, located on any level.

•          Walls reinforced around at least one toilet and shower to facilitate the future installation of rails.


Benefits of these changes

Ultimately, these changes set a higher standard for sustainability, accessibility and safety, meaning new homes will be more energy efficient, with increased accessibility and inclusivity.

The result will help reduce energy bills and will increase the comfort in everyday living for the long term.  Overall, Victorians will be building a more sustainable home, and one that is better for their family, community, and environment.


To summarise, these changes will offer homebuilders:

•          Enhanced accessibility and liveability, so more people can access more areas within the home

•          Major changes to liveability requirements means families can remain in their homes for extended periods without needing extensive modifications as they age

•          New energy efficiency measures and minimum 7-star rating will make homes cheaper to run

•          New homes will be more effective in the way they use and manage energy


How can we help?

The team at Bridgewood Homes are well versed in what these updates mean and how they can be implemented cost effectively in the design and build of your new home in Victoria.

We are also making changes to our current designs to ensure that they meet these new NCC standards.

If you have any questions or would like to chat further about your new home in Victoria, please feel free to reach out.

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