Introduction of silver standards for accessible residential housing and apartments
Following the Building Ministers’ Meeting (BMM) that took place on 30 April 2021, a consensus to include minimum accessibility provisions in the National Construction Code (NCC) 2022, was reached. The regulation will be based on the Livable Housing Design Guidelines (LHDG) silver standards and will be applicable to all residential housing and apartments. The LHDG silver standards emphasise structural and spatial design areas that are considered of widespread benefit and are adaptable and flexible to future home occupants. The 7 core design elements include:
- A safe continuous and step-free path of travel from the street entrance and/or parking area to a dwelling entrance that is level.
- At least one, level (step-free) entrance into the dwelling.
- Internal doors and corridors that facilitate comfortable and unimpeded movement between spaces.
- A toilet on the ground (or entry) level that provides easy access.
- A bathroom that contains a hobless shower recess.
- Reinforced walls around the toilet, shower and bath to support the safe installation of grabrails at a later date.
- Stairways are designed to reduce the likelihood of injury and also enable future adaptation.
This decision was reached after assessing findings from the Decision Regulation Impact Statement (RIS), as well as feedback from a number of key stakeholders, including community members who shared their personal experiences concerning the scarcity of accessible housing. In addition to these provisions, the ministers also agreed to the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) including a clause for voluntary adoption of the LHDG gold standards.
Adoption of the new standards
To minimise disruption in a COVID-19-recovering construction sector, the Ministers have clarified that each state and territory will have the flexibility to implement (or not implement) the new guidelines in whatever means they deem fit for their jurisdiction.
To learn more about next steps and other discussion points from the BMM, keep an eye out for the publication of the Building Ministers’ Meeting communiqués.