Prefabricated construction focus of National Building Ministers meeting

Quarterly National Building Ministers meeting highlights regulatory support for prefabricated construction methods and innovation in the sector.

On 21 June 2024, the Building Ministers Meeting convened to set the priorities for the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) for the upcoming year. The ABCB is responsible for creating and maintaining national standards for building design, construction, and performance in Australia. At last month’s meeting, a spotlight was on prefabricated construction methods.

According to the meeting’s communiqué, the ABCB is keen to address regulatory challenges associated with prefabricated construction, a development that the construction industry welcomes. Prefabricated methods, including modular, panelised, and 3D-printed buildings, offer numerous benefits. Supporting the construction sector through enhanced housing supply, affordability, innovation, productivity, safety, and performance is also a key priority for the ABCB. Delivering an updated and evidence-based National Construction Code (NCC) remains a central focus. Promoting the uptake of prefabricated construction methods is becoming increasingly important due to their growing popularity and clear advantages.

The ministers also recognised the need to make Australian buildings more resilient to extreme weather events driven by climate change. From 2025, climate resilience will be a specific objective of the ABCB. This decision is a response to recommendations from the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements. The ABCB aims to develop NCC requirements that reduce the impact of natural disasters on housing and other critical facilities.

Building Ministers are also committed to improving the quality of the building sector. They discussed implementing a national scheme to support the safety and reliability of building products, which could generate an economic benefit of up to $2.4 billion per year.

Regarding prefabricated construction, “Ministers received an update on joint work being undertaken by the ABCB and the Building 4.0 Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) to support growth in the use of prefabricated and modular construction. The ABCB reported on development of a new handbook to clarify existing regulatory pathways. Ministers noted the ongoing engagement the ABCB and the BMM chair are having with industry to support greater use of prefabricated and modular construction methods in Australia to support the National Housing Accord’s commitment of 1.2 million new homes by 2029.”

The current state of the construction sector, including measures to boost skilled workers announced in the 2024-25 Australian Government budget, was also discussed. The ABCB will prioritise activities that support faster housing delivery, including reducing red tape to enable the increased use of compliant prefabricated and modular construction methods.

Ministers agreed in principle to a draft version of the 2025-2030 Intergovernmental Agreement, which includes funding to secure the future operations and strategic direction of the ABCB. 

They also endorsed the ABCB Business Plan for 2024-2025, focusing on preparing for the next iteration of the NCC. This plan includes addressing condensation management, waterproofing, water shedding, and changes to evidence of suitability requirements.


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