Tech Information: BCA & Design

Posted on December 07, 2018

How does a new edition of the BCA apply to a project that is currently being designed?                                                        

Since 2016, the Building Code of Australia (BCA) has moved to a three-year amendment cycle.  This change in policy replaced annual amendments to the BCA, which were the norm for some time.  As such, the 2016 edition of the BCA will remain in force until the adoption of the 2019 edition of the BCA, which is expected to occur in May 2019.

In the period leading up to and following the adoption of a new BCA, Knisco’s client often ask:

How does this new BCA apply to my project that is currently being designed? 

Am I required to change the design so that it complies with the new BCA?

In short, the answer to these questions are – it depends!

Generally speaking, Queensland building legislation states that a design must comply with the BCA that is in force when the work is approved.  However, it is important to note that the Queensland building legislation include provisions, which acknowledge—

  • Building codes and other relevant building legislation are constantly changing
  • The design process for a new building can take a long time
  • It is not practical to constantly update a design to maintain compliance with newly adopted building codes, standards, etc.

As such, the Queensland Building Act 1975 (Section 37) provides the following concessions, which detail the circumstances in which a Building Approval can be issued for a design that does not comply with the BCA in force at the time.  These circumstances are as follows—

(a) The work is lawfully commenced before the BCA is amended; or

(b) The Building Approval was given before the BCA is amended, but the work does not start before the amendment commences (e.g. the new BCA comes into force); or

(c) An application for a Building Approval is made before the BCA is amended, but the application for the Building Approval is not decided before the amendment commences; or

(d) Planning for carrying out the work started before the BCA is amended and the building certifier for the Building Approval certifies in writing that:

   (i) Substantial progress was made on the design of the building, or the design was completed, before the amendment; and

   (ii) The design would need to be changed to comply with the amended provision; and

   (iii) The changes needed under subparagraph (ii) are not minor changes, having regard to the amendment and the nature of the       building work.

Typically, the stage of a project which causes client’s most concern or confusion is where substantial design work has been undertaken; however, a Building Approval is yet to be issued.  Thankfully, Item (d) is able to be applied in many instances. 

NOTE: For simplicity, this article paraphrases the Queensland Building Act 1975 to assist readers understand this topic.  This article should not be relied upon to determine the application of the BCA to a specific project.  Instead, if you are unsure, please contact our office directly on (07) 3852 2080.


If you would like any information regarding this, please get in touch with our certification team on (07) 3852 2080.

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