National Construction Code

ABCB Readability Project

28/07/2017
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In 2015, the ABCB set about implementing a major building regulatory reform program that was agreed by governments.

Key aspects of the suite of reforms included providing the NCC free online and the move to a three year NCC amendment cycle.

Another major reform is to improve the NCC’s useability. There are several components to the concept of improved NCC useability, broadly involving:

  • digitisation of the NCC, including improved accessibility of the NCC for various digital platforms including PC, tablets and smart phones; enhanced NCC educational and guidance materials to improve understanding and use; and
  • improved readability of NCC content,  including language, structure and format.

While all of these components will provide significant benefits to practitioners, improved readability is particularly critical in helping to ensure that the code is understood by all users.

So what is readability and why is it important?

Readability is the concept that a document can be comprehended by anyone, whether you have a high school certificate or Master’s degree. The NCC is considered by some to be a complex document that is difficult to interpret, whether they are regular or newer users such as students, product manufacturers, or home owners. Improving the NCC’s readability is intended to ensure that its requirements are as easy as possible to understand no matter who you are, or how regularly you use it.

To ensure we get the intended improvements right, the ABCB has been working with a communications specialist, the BBS Communications Group. BBS has evaluated the current readability of the Code and provided advice on how it could be improved. Their recommendations fall under five key themes:

  1. improved general structure, format and flow of the Code;
  2. removal of ‘clutter’ (such as deleted sections like Section I and clauses with *****);
  3. greater use of plain language;
  4. improved location and visual display of information; and  
  5. meeting web document accessibility (i.e. WCAG 2.0) obligations.

These themes will be gradually implemented into the NCC in 2019 and 2022. In 2019, the majority of the changes will affect Volume Three. Some changes will occur in Volume One and Two for 2019, however, due to the scale of the project the majority of changes will take place in 2022.

The improved readability project will not affect the legal intent of the NCC, but rather communicate it in a simpler and clearer way. And rest assured, changes made as part of the project will be subject to the ABCB’s NCC amendment process.

Would you like to have your say?

The ABCB will be undertaking significant stakeholder consultation on the proposed readability changes.  Keep an eye on the ABCB website for further information or sign up to our email alerts through your NCC registration.

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