Modern Homes standards
Important shifts in home building will enhance the liveability of new homes, making them more accessible, energy efficient and comfortable to live in.
The National Construction Code (NCC 2022) incorporates new Modern Homes standards that will introduce new requirements for accessibility and energy efficiency in new homes and better reflect community expectations for modern homes.
The NCC 2022 is given legal effect through Queensland’s Building Act 1975 and varied through amendments to the Building Regulation that adopts the Queensland Development Code (QDC).
Queensland will implement the Modern Homes standards through a new QDC 4.5— Livable dwellings and grading to floor wastes (PDF, 1135.29 KB) and amendment of the existing QDC 4.1—Sustainable Buildings (PDF, 371.03 KB). The new QDC 4.5 accessibility requirements took effect on 1 October 2023, with the QDC 4.1 energy efficiency changes to commence on 1 May 2024.
The Livable Housing and Design Standard (LHDS) will ensure new houses and units are designed and constructed to be more accessible for everyone, including older people, people with disability, families with young children and people with temporary mobility injuries.
These important changes will allow people to remain in their homes as they age, without the need for costly adaptations.
The LHDS requires:
- at least 1 step-free entry
- slightly wider internal doors and corridors
- 1 step-free access into a bathroom and shower
- an accessible toilet
- reinforcing of bathroom and toilet walls to allow handrails to be installed later.
Residential energy efficiency
The energy efficiency changes will improve the energy efficiency of the building shell, and for the first time, account for the energy usage of household appliances and equipment. It has been more than a decade since the last change to the energy efficiency requirements for homes under the NCC.
New houses and units will have a:
- 7-star rating (out of 10) for the building shell (roof, walls, windows and floors).
- Energy efficiency features may include optimal house orientation, better insulation and window design, ceiling fans and a lighter-coloured roof.
- While Queensland will align with the NCC 2022 energy efficiency requirements, the optional one-star credit towards the building shell for inclusion of an outdoor living area will be extended to take advantage of Queensland’s outdoor lifestyle and climate. However, the optional credit for installation of a solar photovoltaic (PV) energy system will cease on 30 April 2024, as it is counted in the Whole of Home energy budget.
- Whole of Home energy budget that promotes energy efficient appliances and equipment (including air-conditioners, hot water heaters and lighting) and on-site renewable energy e.g. solar photovoltaic (PV) system.
Early adoption of energy efficiency
New home builders are encouraged to speak with their builder about adopting the new energy efficiency requirements ahead of 1 May 2024 to lock in energy savings.
To facilitate this outcome, the Department of Energy and Public Works has published guidance to support adoption of the Whole of Home requirements prior to software tools being updated - Guideline for applying transitional arrangements when building requirements change (PDF, 278 KB).
Benefits and costs of the Modern Homes standards
The new residential energy efficiency standards will provide an average electricity saving of $185 per year for new homes in Queensland.
Adopting the Modern Homes energy efficiency standards is expected to provide a net benefit of $506 million to Queensland and reduce emissions by 4.63 million tonnes. It is also expected to provide a net benefit of $2,696 over the life of a detached dwelling at the household level.
Building more accessible housing now will improve the quality of life for many people. The new standard reflects community aspirations about becoming a more inclusive society.
Not only is it possible to build a compliant new home at a reasonable cost, but doing so increases the stock of houses that can improve a person’s economic and social participation in society by making their life easier.
People who are affected by the lack of suitable housing with accessible features will be able to leave hospital when they are ready, which reduces the need for care services. Additionally, they can live in their homes longer close to family and friends.
Independent expert economic analyses suggest the combined capital cost for both energy efficiency and accessibility standards for a new house in Queensland is between 1 and 2 percent of the cost of a new build.
Up-front investment in accessibility features will save homeowners about $18,821 for houses and $20,260 for units and apartments by avoiding retrofit costs.
For more information, view the NCC 2022 decision regulation impact statement (PDF, 9.6MB).
Implementation of the Modern Homes standards
On 26 August 2022, building ministers agreed that the NCC 2022 will be available from 1 October 2022 for people who want to use the Modern Homes standards voluntarily, with the Modern Homes standards formally taking effect in NCC 2022 on 1 October 2023.
In Queensland, the Modern Homes standards are being implemented through a phased approach, with:
- the phase in of the Livable Housing Design Standard commencing on 1 October 2023
- the energy efficiency standards to commence on 1 May 2024.
Commencing the energy efficiency standards in May 2024 acknowledges that commonly available compliance tools are not yet finalised and allows industry sufficient time to prepare for the changes.
In terms of the commencement of the Modern Homes changes, transitional arrangements apply to building assessment provisions under section 37 of the Building Act 1975. New homes that are already significantly designed or where construction commenced prior to 1 October 2023 are not impacted by these changes.
Further detail of Queensland's measures to support implementation of the Modern Homes standards are available online.
The ABCB and jurisdictions are working with industry to support industry implementation of NCC 2022.
The ABCB has prepared the following guidance materials to support awareness and implementation of NCC 2022 Modern Homes standards.
Residential Energy efficiency:
- ABCB Standard for Livable Housing Design
- ABCB Implementation of step-free entry provisions (PDF, 2534.69 KB)
- Case Studies (PDF, 5878.66 KB) demonstrating practical implementation of the National Construction Code 2022 provisions and exemptions
- ABCB Handbook for Livable Housing Design
- ABCB Voluntary Standard for Livable Housing Design: Beyond Minimum
- Last updated:
- 5 October 2023