The adoption by Australian states and territories of the National Construction Code 2019 will see new changes that allow buildings of all classes to be constructed with timber building systems.
The changes for buildings up to 25 metres — typically 8-storeys — marks an exciting opportunity for developers looking at exploring the use of different materials in their projects.
In 2016, the NCC moved into a three-year amendment cycle, which signals significant change for residential building practice. The code’s previous amendment in 2016 permitted the construction of fire-protected timber building systems to an effective height of 25 metres, typically 8-storeys, for class 2 (apartment), 3 (hotel) and 5 (office) buildings. However, this year, these concessions have been extended to include all building classes.
Timber building systems — such as traditional lightweight timber framing, cross laminated timber (CLT), laminated veneer lumber (LVL) and glue laminated timber (glulam) – will be approved for use in a range of new buildings, including retail, aged care accommodation, schools, and hospitals.
The change has been welcomed by industry professionals, including builders, engineers and developers.
Vistek Structural and Civil Engineers business manager Robbie Svars says that although material costs may be higher for timber, the costs are made up in the time savings in the construction schedule.
“Savvy developers are looking to change their business model and capitalise on the reduction in schedule time working with timber provides – this allows them to release their working capital far more quickly and move onto the next project,” Svars said.
“For example, projects with exposure to bank interest can see over 30 per cent reduction in build program by using timber, which can equate to hundreds of thousands of cost savings.
“Mass timber is also one of the most dimensionally accurate structural systems on the market, and it produces a very high-quality build. Its precision to 5mm has flow on effects in making joinery and finishes easier to execute to a higher quality.”