Building Code of Australia and Plumbing Code of Australia Amendments

Please visit the VBA Seminar Series page to find information on amendments to the Building Code of Australia relevant to building and the Plumbing Code of Australia relevant to plumbing practitioners.

The Building Act 1993

The Building Act 1993 (the Act) governs building activity in Victoria. It sets out the legislative framework for the regulation of building construction, building standards and the maintenance of specific building safety features.

The objectives of the Act are:

  • to protect the safety and health of people who use buildings and places of public entertainment
  • to enhance the amenity of buildings
  • to promote plumbing practices which protect the safety and health of people, and the integrity of water supply and waste water systems
  • to facilitate the adoption and efficient application of national building standards and national plumbing standards
  • to facilitate the cost effective construction and maintenance of buildings and plumbing systems
  • to facilitate the construction of environmentally and energy efficient buildings; and
  • to aid the achievement of an efficient and competitive building and plumbing industry.

Part 12A of the Act sets out the legislative framework for the regulation of plumbing work in Victoria, addressing matters such as:

  • the registration and licensing of plumbing practitioners
  • requirements relating to licensees self-certifying work via compliance certificates
  • the establishment of the Victorian Building Authority and its responsibilities relating to the regulation of plumbing work
  • the powers available to the Authority's inspectors and auditors in monitoring and enforcing the compliance of plumbing work with all regulatory requirements.

You can view a copy of the Act at the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website.

Building Regulations

On Tuesday 16 February 2016, the Governor made the Subordinate Legislation (Building Regulations 2006) Extension Regulations 2016, which extends the operation of the Building Regulations 2006 until 5 June 2017.

The Government has commenced a program of reforms to the building system, including amendments to the Building Act 1993, to put in place a strengthened regulatory framework to improve domestic building consumer protection. The extension of these regulations will enable the replacement regulations to be aligned with the implementation of legislative reform.

The Building Regulations 2006 (The Regulations) are derived from the Act and contain, among other things, the requirements relating to:

  • building permits
  • building inspections
  • occupancy permits
  • enforcement of the Regulations
  • maintenance of buildings.

The Regulations adopt the Building Code of Australia as a technical reference that must be complied with.

New regulations or amendments to current regulations can be made according to the requirements of the Subordinate Legislation Act 1994. That Act sets out requirements for the preparation, making and publication of new or amending regulations and requirements for a regulatory impact statement.

If you would like to propose an amendment to the Building Regulations 2006, submissions should be made by completing the Proposed Amendment Submission.

Plumbing Regulations

The Plumbing Regulations 2008 (the Regulations) are derived from the Act and contain among other things:

  • defining scopes for the various classes of plumbing work
  • setting out qualification and experience eligibility requirements for registration and licensing
  • the fees payable for registration and licensing applications
  • the technical requirements that work performed in specified classes of plumbing must comply with.

National Construction Code (NCC)

The NCC incorporates all on-site construction requirements into a single code. The NCC comprises the Building Code of Australia (BCA), Volume One and Two; and the Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA), as Volume Three.

  • Volume One: pertains primarily to Class 2 to 9 buildings.
  • Volume Two: pertains primarily to Class 1 and 10 buildings.
  • Volume Three: pertains primarily to plumbing and drainage associated with all classes of buildings.

To download the NCC, visit the ABCB website

Building Code of Australia

The Building Code of Australia (BCA) is produced and maintained by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) which is an initiative of the Council of Australia Governments (COAG).

The BCA is updated annually and provides a uniform set of technical provisions for the design and construction of buildings and other structures.

The BCA is performance based and allows for state variations to provide additional requirements or cater for specific community expectations. This means it defines the way of achieving a specified outcome without prescribing a particular method.

Copies of the BCA (Volumes One and Two of the National Construction Code) can be purchased from the Australian Building Codes Board website.

Plumbing Code of Australia

The Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA), forming Volume 3 of the NCC, is administered and maintained by the Australian Building Code Board (ABCB). The ABCB is a joint initiative of Federal, state and local governments and reports to state, territory and Commonwealth building ministers. In Victoria, this is the Minister for Planning.

The PCA contains the technical provisions for the design, construction, installation, replacement, repair, alteration and maintenance of:

  • Water services
  • Sanitary plumbing and drainage systems
  • Stormwater drainage systems
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems
  • On-site wastewater management systems.

In addition the PCA contains a list of variations to the requirements that apply to all Victorian practitioners.

Copies of the PCA are available for free download from the Australian Building Codes Board website.

On the 1st May 2016, the PCA 2016 replaced the 2015 edition. Unlike previous editions which were updated annually, the PCA 2016 will remain in force until 1st May 2019.

The PCA 2016 contains a number of significant changes. Plumbing practitioners need to be aware of how the changes affect their work and are expected to comply with the new requirements where applicable.

To assist practitioners a summary of the changes in the PCA 2016 can be found here.

Performance (Alternative) Solutions for Plumbing

Meeting the Performance Requirements of the Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA)

The Performance Requirements of the PCA can be achieved through one of the following:

  1. Complying with the Deemed to Satisfy (DtS) provisions, such as the referenced AS/NZS 3500 Plumbing and drainage Standard(where applicable),
  2. Formulating a Performance Solution which complies with the Performance Requirements, or is demonstrated to be at least equivalent to the DtS provisions, or
  3. A combination of the above.
Deemed to Satisfy method

Most plumbing installations use the DtS method. This is achieved by following the requirements contained in the referenced Standards - such as the AS/NZS 3500 Plumbing and Drainage suite.

Performance solution method

A performance solution, previously known as an alternative solution, is another method of achieving compliance with the performance requirements of the PCA. Performance solutions provide a flexible method of meeting the requirements, and are unique for each installation. Performance solutions may be used where there is no deemed to satisfy method for a particular plumbing installation, or where a plumbing practitioner wants to use an innovative approach to an installation. A Performance Solution may be used for any installation, and must be developed prior to the work being carried out.

How to develop a performance solution

Plumbing practitioners intending to use a performance solution for their plumbing installation need to be aware of the process and requirements for this method.

For a high level summary of how to develop a performance solution, view this video.

The VBA has also developed an industry guide for Victorian practitioners outlining the expected process, documentation and requirements to be followed. The guide is available here.

In addition to the VBA's industry guide, the Australian Building Codes Board also has further information on performance solutions available at http://www.abcb.gov.au/NCC/How-it-works.

Plumbing Regulations Sunset Review

The Plumbing Regulations 2008 (the Regulations) will expire in November 2018. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is in the process of reviewing the current regulations and will develop options for new regulations to replace them. This work will be undertaken with support from the Victorian Building Authority (VBA). The VBA will also assist with targeted engagement with stakeholders as well as providing technical input as the regulator.

New regulations will be made following the preparation of and public consultation on a Regulatory Impact Statement and draft regulations.

The Plumbing Regulations Sunset Review will focus on matters that can be addressed via the regulations. The scope of matters that may be prescribed in regulations is outlined in sections 221ZZZV and 262 of the Building Act 1993.

Invitation to Comment

Stakeholders and the community are invited to make submissions on the operation and effectiveness of the current Regulations. Feedback will inform the Plumbing Regulations Sunset Review project and the creation of new regulations.

To make a submission or find out more about the Plumbing Regulations Sunset Review project, please click here.

For further information on this project, please email plumbing.review@delwp.vic.gov.au.