Queensland builders still unaware of construction code changes

Paul Eyers
By Paul Eyers
6 Min Read

Queensland builders are starting to adhere to new construction code laws, but many still need to learn about the changes.

The latest rules are designed to make homes more energy-efficient and improve accessibility in all new builds and large-scale renovations across the state.

The new laws result from alterations to the National Construction Code (NCC) and are set to be rolled out nationwide.

Most states have delayed implementation until at least May 2024, giving the industry more time to adjust and spread awareness among builders and new home buyers.

Queensland is the only state to introduce some of the changes this year, with the alterations to liveable housing provisions regarding accessibility coming into effect earlier this month.

Some builders still unaware of new laws

With more than 100,000 building industry licensees across the state, Master Builders Queensland told Build-it they are worried some are still unaware of the new rules, leaving themselves vulnerable to regulatory action.

“Master Builders has concerns that there has been a lack of sufficient education and awareness for the entire industry – all builders and tradies – as well as consumers,” Master Builders Queensland CEO Paul Bidwell said.

“There is no specific trade that is more vulnerable. It will impact all builders and tradies in the residential sector to some extent.”

Code changes under the new laws include ensuring the energy efficiency star rating of all new builds is increased from six to seven stars.

Meanwhile, home accessibility will also be improved by ensuring hallways and corridors are a minimum width, a toilet is accessible on the ground or entry level, and all front doors and showers are step-free.

Date changes leave tradies confused

When asked about the changes, a Tweed Heads-based carpenter, who wished to remain anonymous, told Build-it he was unaware of all the alterations or when they came into effect.

“The last bit of information I had was from watching the news, and I presumed it had all been put off until 2024,” he told Build-it.

Master Builders Queensland has estimated the changes could dump an extra $20,000 in costs to some homes, with some estimates as high as $45,000. However, they are also expected to save Queenslanders $185 annually in energy costs.

Queensland Energy and Public Works Minister Mick De Brenni defended introducing the accessibility requirements as initially scheduled, telling Build-it that timeframes were fair.

“We made the decision to offer generous implementation timeframes, including delaying the implementation of energy efficiency provisions until May 1, 2024, while accessibility requirements came into effect on new builds from October 1, 2023, with a phased approach until May 1, 2025,” he explained.

“This outcome will allow industry the time it needs to get up to scratch with new tools and ensure the best possible outcome for Queenslanders embarking on the journey to build a new home.”

Key facts:

  • Construction code changes will make new builds more accessible and energy efficient.
  • Disability advocates say the changes are overdue.
  • Queensland government says building costs will only increase slightly.

Mr De Brenni says changes to the NCC’s accessibility requirements were small but would make a massive difference to those it was designed to help.

“For the person, these changes are instrumental in creating a more comfortable home and a more compassionate way of living,” he explained to Build-it.

“New, simple designs will be able to delay, or perhaps even avoid, the later-in-life move to an aged care or health facility.”

Mr Bidwell told Build-it that while the construction industry welcomed a delay to the energy efficiency changes, forging ahead with the new livable housing rules would add even further pressure to building costs.

“Master Builders are disappointed that the Minister didn’t delay the liveable housing requirements,” he said.

“There is a lack of practical information available to licensed builders and trade contractors on how to implement the changes without incurring significant costs,” he said.

The changes could also add further delays to already rising home construction times.

Mr Bidwell said: “In cases where a builder or tradie completes work that doesn’t comply, the certifier won’t sign off on it.”

“This means the contractor doesn’t get paid and would be liable for rectifying the work and the client is left hanging.”

Mr Bidwell says Master Builders Queensland members would be updated with any legislative changes and member-exclusive advice.

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Paul Eyers has worked as a journalist for a range of media publishers including News Corp and Network Ten. He has also worked outside of Australia, including time spent with ABS-CBN in the Philippines. Stepping away from the media, Paul spent five years sharpening his tools in construction - building his skill set and expertise within the trade industry. His diverse experiences and unique journey have equipped him with an insider view of Australia’s construction game to dig deep into the big stories.

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