Making It real
My story in attempting to bring a new housing type that improves affordability, livability & community resilience
(Please note that this article is one in a series and it may make references to previous articles)
In my previous article, I described how restrictive and illogical the Australian Building code was when confronted with a multigenerational home that had two kitchens. In this article, I will outline how the planning system can influence the building code while providing yet another nonsensical scenario that the current rules create which surprisingly seems to be supported by both the building and planning authorities. First, let's look at an example where planning has influenced a build form outcome. Before we start, have a look at the images below and ask yourself, which would you think posses the greater fire risk?
A planning scheme can guide the building code as it has with Rooming Homes. Under the building code, a rooming home is considered very similar to a typical residential home bar a few minor differences. Both attract class 1 classifications with a standard residential home being a Class 1a, while a rooming home is a Class 1b. The critical difference is that a Rooming house identifies as a housing specific for the accommodation of disadvantaged people. Other than this, there are many similarities between it and a multigenerational home. To highlight this, let’s review how both the planning scheme and building code approach this type of class 1 building.
Under clause 52.23 of the Victorian planning scheme, it outlines the critical criteria needed for a home to qualify as a Rooming house. In parallel to this, the building Code has specially developed a building type, Class 1b, that aligns with the planning restrictions which state that dwelling should not:
Even though very similar to class 1a, there are some minor differences; The Building code identifies that the facilities are designed to be shared and that there must be a full DDA compliant bathroom and car park. It also requires increased fire escaping measures that are far less stringent than what a Class 2 building would need (refer to article 12). This high level of amenity in a rooming house is designed to protect disadvantaged people of our society, who generally are not related to one another. This now brings me to nonsensical restriction number 3.
Non-sensical restriction number 3
Which would you consider attracts the higher fire risk?
A) A 2-storey multigenerational home with 4-5 bedrooms, two kitchens and residents that are generally related to one another;
B) a 9-bedroom dwelling with disadvantaged strangers.
According to the Build Code, it is A)
Yes, the Multi-Gen house unbelievably is assumed to posses the greatest fire risk....
Notwithstanding the above and the fact that both the building codes and planning scheme are silent on the ability to have a second kitchen for a rooming house (class1b), this building class, subject to a few adjustments, could provide the right solution in increasing the supply of more multigenerational homes. So, what would these amendments be? I will outline this in the next article.
A property expert with over 25 years experience working across both private and public sectors, predominately within the housing space.