The National Construction Code (NCC) constitutes the requirements and regulations for all new building work in Australia. This was created for the safety and performance of new buildings and newly added design and construction in old buildings.
In summary, these must be followed:
- A continuous barrier should be constructed in areas where someone can fall at least one meter down. The height should be as needed to prevent accidents.
- Even with a barrier in position, it is still necessary to construct a balustrade to avoid people accidentally stumbling through the barrier.
- The balustrade should be able to prevent children from passing through.
- The balustrade should be strong enough to handle everyday events and any action related to its function, such as static pressure and impact of people.
- Minimum height of 1000mm and a minimum of 865mm on stairs.
- Maximum of 125mm sphere through the opening.
- If floors are more than four meters above the surface beneath it, any element from 150mm to 760mm high must not aid climbing.
- Glazing in balustrades must adhere to requirements in AS1288
Balustrade Glass Selection
Various Types of glass are approved for balustrade installations as per AS1288 which can include but not limited to -:
Heat Soaked Toughened (Cheapest Option)
This glass is non-structural and therefore requires balustrade stanchions and a connection top rail to the glass panels.
There is a minimal risk of this glass exploding due to the possibility of nickel sulphide inclusion or impact
Laminated Glass with PVB Interlayer
This glass is non-structural and therefore requires Balustrade stanchions and connecting top rail to the glass panels.
There is a minimal risk of breakage due to the possibility of nickel sulphide inclusion or breakage.
Because a laminate has been selected the broken panel will stay in place until a replacement panel can be sourced.
The broken panel is not structural.
A metal capping is recommended to be fitted to the top of the glass panels to reduce the risk of De-Lamination.
Laminate Glass with SGP Interlayer (The Most Expensive Option) Structural
This glass is structural and therefore does not require stanchions or a connecting top rail to the glass panels.
Naturally SGP Interlayer Glazing can also be installed with stanchions and connecting top rail should be the design intent.
Should this glazing be affected by nickle sulphide inclusion or breakage the glass panel will remain structural sound because of the SGP interlayer unit a replacement panel is sourced.
If SGP Glass is installed without stanchions or a connecting top rail to the glass panels then the glass is the structural component.
In this instance the QBCC require installation by a licenced glazier.
The Standard states that Grade A Safety Glass shall be used (Toughened or Laminated) and that the Min Thickness of glass derived from wind loads but is typically 10mm for infill panels and 15mm for frameless.
The glass treatments that we should consider: – Heat Strengthened, and Tempered (Toughened)
DID YOU KNOW
All Balustrade regardless of the design selected have to have structural engineers Form 15-Design & Form 16 Inspection.
The Form 15 (Design) has to calculate the structural integrity of the design and the associated wind pressures exerted on the glass panels.
These certifications are not generic and are required for all individual projects.
Existing Balustrades and Repairs
Repairs to existing balustrades can be performed and the balustrades are compliant with the standard of that time.
If the existing balustrades are removed and new balustrades are installed, then these balustrades need to comply with the current standards AS 1170 D5-16 of today. Along with structural engineer’s design and certification.
BCA Balustrade Requirements
The Building Code of Australia (BCA) outlines requirements that building works must comply with. For balcony balustrades, they must have the following characteristics
- The uppermost part of the railing must be 1000mm from the ground (or higher).
- Any gap must be able to prevent a child’s head from passing through. This being a 125mm sphere, the vertical components must be less than 125mm apart.
- The distance between the bottom rail and the surface of the balcony must be 100mm or lower.
- For high balconies (fall height of more than four meters), elements between 150mm and 760mm above the ground should not encourage or aid climbing. This includes any horizontal or near horizontal elements.