In a move that has disappointed the sustainability industry, the Victorian government has further delayed the new energy efficiency provisions of the National Construction Code (NCC) 2022 that were so enthusiastically celebrated in August last year.

This means the state joins other laggards around the country, which are, so far, even further behind.  Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia for instance have pushed back reforms by around three years.

It leaves just Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory still committed to bringing in the NCC changes by October this year.

See analysis, Forget code compliance ­ ­– we need to be so much more ambitious

Inquiries to the NSW government yielded an informal response that the new government had inherited a legacy position of delay from the previous government.

The Victorian Building Authority said on Thursday that the new liveable housing requirements and the new energy efficiency and condensation mitigation requirements will now start on 1 May next year instead of October this year.

The Fifth Estate was first alerted to this possibility though two lines midway through a long media release about the building industry released by the Premier Dan Andrews in May.

It was a subtle reference: “The government will consider providing an extended transition for some new National Construction Code requirements that are currently scheduled to commence in October.”

After several calls and emails to the ministerial media centre – with no response other than advice that a response would be forthcoming ­– a media release from the VBA was finally sent to industry leaders.

Davina Rooney, chief executive of the Green Building Council of Australia, told The Fifth Estate on Friday morning that to her knowledge the main east coast jurisdictions including the ACT always had a 12-month implementation schedule, with the balance around three years.

Denita Wawn the CEO of the Master Builders Association said in a text that she understood that Victoria, NSW and Queensland were the only states not to delay [beyond the 12 months we presume].

So why the Victorian delay?

The VBA said in the media statement that the move was “in recognition that the building industry is experiencing significant global economic challenges”.

“This will provide those builders who need it, more time to prepare, while still encouraging voluntary compliance with the standards. This extension will be implemented through changes to building regulations.”

Davina Rooney said we have “an unprecedented crises – a climate crisis a biodiversity crisis, an affordability crisis” all while more builders collapse under the weight of cost pressures that stemmed from Covid supply chain issues and extended periods of wet weather.

The right answer is to lean in with support the industry to meet our critical timelines.

But the need for reform was also urgent, she noted, citing a recent study that proved Australian homes were 10 times colder than we thought and well below World Health Organisation recommendations.

“We’re talking about one part of the affordability crisis which is how our builders cope in uncertain times of huge transformation, but how do vulnerable Australians cope with housing that don’t meet [adequate] living conditions and how are we going to retrofit these houses?”

Here we are she said, “kicking the can down the road again.” 

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  1. Disappointing Dan. Pushing back by 7 months, the requirements for condensation mitigation is a really poor decision, there’s a minimal cost to implementing that in new buildings, but a massive cost to post-construction mould remediation and prevention. We have already seen huge problems with mould in homes around Australia over the last decade, and Victoria’s relatively drier climate is still a massive risk to homeowners. At least with the BADS guidelines, cross ventilation helps somewhat, but about 40,000 more dwellings will be built in those 7 months, most of them project homes without any cross-ventilation or other mould mitigation design.

  2. It’s never a good time to change regulations according to industry lobbyists. The Livable Housing Design Standard has no impact on the operation or survival of the industry. It’s just a level entry and a slight rearrangement of space. One day the lobbyists and the builders will themselves need these features.