New Advisory Note Released | Timber Framing Concessions
29 July 2019
The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) have issued a new Advisory Note for Class 2 and 3 buildings: Concessions for use of timber framing and/or non-combustible materials.
The Advisory Note explains the intent of the concession in Specification C1.1, Clauses 3.10(a) and 4.3(a) of NCC Volume One and outlines the concessions which they say, in certain circumstances, allow for the use of timber framing where otherwise a non-combustible material is required.
The Advisory Note can be accessed from the ABCB Resource Library here.
AIBS notes that whilst the ABCB have clarified the intent of the clauses, this does not change the wording of the clauses and therefore there will remain an issue regarding the application of those clauses within industry. AIBS is concerned that building surveyors will be asked to accept literal interpretations of the concession clauses irrespective of the stated intention, potentially opening themselves to professional criticism or liability; on the other hand, if they don’t accept the literal interpretation based proposals, they might be challenged for failing to accept dts compliant design proposals.
The ABCB are not the only organisation with an opinion about how this clause should be applied.
In Western Australia, the Department of Mining Infrastructure and Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) has issued supporting documentation which can be found here.
In Victoria, the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) has issued an e-mail to registered practitioners, the content of which can be found here.
AIBS notes that the Victorian statement presumes that it is unlawful to interpret the words in the NCC BCA provisions referenced in the ABCB Advisory Note otherwise than in accordance with the ABCB’s stated intention of the clause. AIBS notes that until the meaning of the concession clauses is tested in a Court, the true legal position is unclear. The VBA’s view is simply that, another view.
Anyone with any concerns about any decision related to these provisions may wish to seek legal advice. Reliance should not be made on the information provided by the ABCB or regulators. Unless there is a change in the law, any advice from the ABCB or regulators is merely the offer of an opinion.
AIBS will not be seeking a legal opinion on behalf of members as this will not provide a definitive answer to this issue either, merely add a further opinion into the mix.