Queensland’s better building standards

Published Tuesday, 19 September, 2023 at 05:30 PM

Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen and Minister for Public Works and Procurement
The Honourable Mick de Brenni

  • Cheaper electricity bills – average of $185 savings every year
  • Cleaner environment – lowers carbon emissions by 1.64 million tonnes
  • Increased comfort – homes will be built to cater for evolving accessibility needs

Future generations of Australians will enjoy greater comfort in their homes as well as cheaper power bills thanks to national laws delivering modern building standards.

To balance the needs of homeowners and industry, the Palaszczuk Government has agreed to a phased approach to the National Construction Code 2022, with implementation from October 1, 2023 through to May 1, 2025.

In Queensland, accessibility standards will be introduced from October 1, with generous transition time frames for certain builds, including those on smaller lots, while the iconic Queenslander will be exempt from a step-free entry, with improvements that ensure new home-builds feature enhanced accessibility.

These changes will significantly reduce or even avoid the cost of retrofitting when the mobility needs of homeowners change, and will only enhance the aesthetics of these new homes.

As the Sunshine State continues to push towards its renewable energy targets, Queensland homes will emit lower emissions thanks to the changes to energy efficiency.

These changes, to be implemented from May 1, 2024, mean new builds in Queensland will be built to energy efficiency standards that ensure homes are warmer in winter and cooler in summer, reducing energy bills by about $185 a year.

The Australian Building Codes Board expects the Modern Homes standards will collectively add just 1-2 per cent to the cost of building new homes, with costs reducing over time as industry adjust to the changes.

Households could earn back this cost over the lifetime of a home through savings on energy bills, while independent research, cited by the CSIRO claims 7 star energy efficiency will increase a home’s sale price by almost 10%.

Minister for Energy and Public Works, Mick de Brenni:

“These Modern Homes standards mean positive outcomes for Queenslanders, and will make their homes more comfortable and cheaper to run for years to come.

“We have listened to advocates, industry and the community and our phased implementation plan balances the needs of industry to transition, alongside the community’s expectations that we adopt these improved standards.

“Queensland is already well placed to meet the new 7-star energy-efficiency requirements –with the average home across  the state already reaching 6.5 stars energy efficiency.  

“With the availability of a 1-star credit for outdoor living areas, most builders won’t have any problems meeting the new requirements, and with the timeframe for compliance of energy efficiency requirements now May 1, 2024, we are allowing additional time to train in the new tools.

“We know over a third of Queensland homes already have rooftop solar to minimise their household energy consumption and save on energy bills, and Queensland has a natural advantage for solar energy, with new homeowners able to benefit from choosing rooftop solar with these building requirements.

“We expect even more savings for Queensland households, with an estimated $185 off electricity bills each year, thanks to energy efficient measures put in place as part of the NCC.”

Quote attributable to Australian Building Codes Board CEO, Gary Rake:

“It’s been over 10 years since the last residential energy-efficiency update to the National Construction Code in 2010.

“And it’s been over 10 years since the industry voluntarily promised to introduce accessibility standards with new homes.

“The homes we’re building now are supposed to be good for 50 years – we need to think about the requirements of the next two and three generations.

“Every month we delay locks people into outcomes that are below the standard they should be.”

Further information:

Accessibility requirements

The Modern Homes accessibility changes will avoid expensive retrofits, which analysis shows can be up to 10 times the cost of designing and building simple features at the time of design and construction, if it’s possible at all.

From 1 October 2023, new houses and units will need to include the following accessibility features unless exempt:

  • at least one step-free entry
  • wider internal doors (820-millimetre opening) and corridors (1000 millimetres wide)
  • step-free access into a bathroom and shower
  • toilets on ground level (or entry level) must be accessible
  • NCC 2022 also requires all floors to grade to a floor waste, not just grade to the mandatory floor waste

Residential energy-efficiency requirements

To commence from 1 May 2024, the 7-star (out of 10) energy efficiency measures are expected to save homeowners an average of $185 every year on their electricity bills.

That’s in addition to delivering a net benefit to Queensland of over $500 million and reducing the state’s carbon emissions from new homes by 1.64 million tonnes.

New houses and units will need to have a:

  • 7-star rating (out of 10) for the building shell (roof, walls, windows, and floors). Energy efficiency features may include good orientation, better insulation and window design and a lighter coloured roof.
  • whole-of-home energy use allowance that covers the energy use of the home’s major appliances and any on-site renewable energy such as a solar photovoltaic (PV) system.

While Queensland will align with the NCC 2022 energy efficiency requirements, the optional one-star credit towards the building shell for inclusion of an outdoor living area will remain (QDC 4.1) to ensure Queenslanders can take advantage of our outdoor living lifestyle and climate.

Transitioning to the new standards

The National Construction Code (NCC) provides a nationally uniform set of technical provisions for the design and construction of buildings.

To support Queensland’s adoption of the Modern Homes standards, the following arrangements have been made including an:

  • 18-month exemption (ending 31 March 2025) from the new accessibility requirements for new dwellings on narrow lots (frontage of 12.5 metres or less) and existing pre-built class 1 dwellings (55m2 or less in size) (QDC 4.5)
  • ongoing exemption where it is not practical or reasonable to apply the new standards to toilet and bathroom renovations (QDC 4.5)
  • exemption from any general repairs and maintenance (QDC 4.5)
  • exemption to provide step-free entry for new houses on steep lots or where ramping requirements can’t be met, e.g., where there is not enough space, or the ramp would be too steep or long (National Construction Code, incl reference)
  • exemption from installing an accessible toilet on entry level of a detached house if there are no habitable rooms located on that level, provided a compliant accessible toilet is installed on the first level where a habitable room is located in the house
  • seven month transitional period for the Whole-of-Home energy efficiency requirements.

For more detailed information on the Modern Homes standards, including guidance material, visit the Department of Energy and Public Works website at www.qld.gov.au/modernhomes.

For more information about the NCC 2022, visit the Australian Building Code Boards’ website at www.abcb.gov.au.


Journalist Contact
Elise Williams: 0482 503 675