Updates

New homes to be fit for all

Queensland Government media release

Queensland’s national advocacy on climate change and building accessibility, has today resulted in cross-government agreement for more accessible and energy efficient building design standards in new Australian homes.

It comes just a fortnight after Queensland secured an historic accord to enshrine emissions reduction objectives into laws governing Australia’s energy market.

Minister for Energy and Public Works Mick de Brenni said the changes to the National Construction Code 2022, covered making homes more accessible for people with mobility challenges, and increased the energy efficiency and electric vehicle readiness of new homes.

“This is a major win because it will ensure new home builds are safe, secure and liveable for generations to come,” said Mr de Brenni.

“From an energy efficiency perspective, it means cheaper power bills for new homes, and as we age, the ability to live with dignity in our own homes.

“This is especially important for our growing population of seniors but also for families with young children and people who suffer temporary injury or a permanent disability.

“The aged care and health system are congested with too many Australians who could otherwise be in their own homes if there were suitable, so these changes will help ease the substantial pressure on those systems.”

The accessibility changes include simple but crucial features such as at least one step-free entry into a home, wider internal doors and corridors and a toilet on ground (or entry) level.

There will be exemptions for homes on steep slopes and small lots, as well as for traditional designs like the iconic Queenslander.

Long-term building accessibility campaigner, Dr Margaret Ward, congratulated the Queensland Government on its leadership.

“Older people living in unsuitable housing face greater risk of falls, injury and immobility, and early entry into residential aged care,” Dr Ward said.

“These reforms will help thousands of ordinary Australian households for many years to come.”

Along with building accessibility changes, it was agreed that new buildings would increase from six to seven star rating. The changes include: more rooftop solar, better home insulation, better air movement, lighter coloured roofs and walls, improved ceiling fan requirements and more climate-appropriate glazing of windows.

“These energy efficiency measures will reduce emissions by 1.64 million tonnes from new homes in Queensland – another turning point in the journey toward net zero emissions,” Mr de Brenni said.

“The changes also mean more downward pressure on electricity bills, and will deliver an average yearly saving for new Queensland houses of $185 per year.

“That means cooler houses in summer, and warmer in winter.

“The reforms mean that all new apartment buildings will be built EV ready, future proofing the nation towards a low carbon economy.”

The combined cost for these changes if not already factored into a building design may be between just one and two percent of the build cost.

“To retrofit a house to make it more accessible costs tens of thousands of dollars,” Mr de Brenni said.

“Detractors will say this will keep people out of the housing market, which is simply not true, and is akin to saying cars should be built without seatbelts or air bags because of the cost.

“Homes are the largest investment most Australians will ever make, and the Queensland Government wants to make homes that Queenslanders can live in for life.”

The new construction code will commence on 1 May 2023, with the Modern Homes Package, including building accessibility and energy efficiency to commence on 1 October 2023.

“It would have been great to have introduced these measures sooner, but industry deserved adequate time to absorb the changes,” he said.

“The national construction code has also been restructured and entirely renumbered.

“The changes are substantial and we believe the extended time frame is a fair and balanced outcome.”