Building Regulations for Balustrades
When building a new home or adding an extension, it’s crucial to consider which regulations you need to follow. Although it seems like a hassle at the time, these regulations are made with the user’s safety in mind, and are best thought about before commencing the process, rather than during or after.
In Queensland, over 20 people have died and hundreds of people have been injured between 2002 to 2012 after falling from decks or balconies. A portion of this statistic is associated with structural failure, which is why it is so important to ensure your balustrades comply with the national building regulations.
Sentrel engineers balustrades that follow the latest industry regulations and we have even made it simple for you to install them yourself. But even if the balustrade is built to industry regulations the strength of a balustrade is only as good as the substrate it is fixing to. It is recommended that occupiers of all residential dwellings with a timber deck or balcony (particularly those built before the 1940s) have them checked for structural integrity.
Other common site issues that can cause balustrades to become unsafe include poorly laid titles, electric cables or water services that are too close to the balustrade when installing. It is especially dangerous if an installer drills through the wall into electric cabling and causes the balustrade to become ‘live’.
With these common issues in mind you can now see why building regulations are so important to keep you and your family safe. Here at Sentrel we care about safety and convenience so we’ve created a simple outline to ensure your balustrades comply with the most current building regulations as at January 2016.
Building Code of Australia
The Building Code of Australia (BCA) sets building regulations for all States and Territories. It provides a consistent set of Australian building standards in the areas of health, fire, safety and sustainability. Sentrel have provided the relevant Balustrade code here and have summarised some key points below.
What is a Balustrade and Why do You Need it?
A balustrade is a fall prevention barrier which must be provided alongside any stairway or ramp, any floor, corridor, hallway, balcony, verandah, mezzanine or path of access to a building if it is not bounded by a wall or any level more than 1 m above adjoining floor or finished ground level. Many accidents happen every year due to illegally built decks and balconies, or ones that haven’t been regularly inspected and maintained. Regulated decks, balconies and balustrades help to prevent these accidents from happening.
Decks and Balconies
Balconies one metre or higher above the ground - balustrades need to be at least one metre high.
Decks more than one metre above the ground - openings in balustrades, including decorative balustrades, cannot be greater than 125 millimetres.
Decks more than four metres above the ground - balustrades cannot have any climbable elements located between 150 millimetres and 760 millimetres from the floor.
Stairs - a barrier of at least 865 millimetres high above the ‘nosing’ of the stair treads is required.
Balustrades for stairs - gaps in balustrades on stairs cannot have openings greater than 125 millimetres.
Stairs more than four metres in height - a balustrade must also not have any climbable elements, such as horizontal rails, located between 150 millimetres and 760 millimetres from the floor.
Climate is very important to consider when building or installing balustrades especially with Australia’s varying seasons. In many parts of Australia, the construction of new building and additions to existing buildings will be assessed as to whether or not it is in a bushfire-prone area. There are six different Bushfire Attack Levels for proposed construction and as the threat increases, so do the restrictions on the building materials that may be used.
In climates where applications are exposed to moisture, handrails, posts, balusters and infill should either be naturally durable Class 1 or Class 2 timber species. These include; blackbutt, spotted gum, ironbark, jarrah, merbau, or kwila with any sapwood present treated to H3 standard. Sentrel’s products are primarily made from spotted gum, as it has a Class 1 rating of 40+ years durability, is termite resistant and is the highest fire retardant timber class.
Fire isn’t the only environmental aspect to consider, decks and balconies on properties near the coast can have an even higher risk of potential failure. The corrosive effects of salt, sand and wind can affect unprotected timber and steel structures. Sentrel use 316 Marine Grade Stainless Steel Wire, which is the most corrosion-resistant material in its class and the safest option for balustrades in coastal areas.
At Sentrel, all of the balustrade specifications for our stainless steel vertical wire with Australian Hardwood rails, Stainless Steel infill, or Extruded Aluminium comply fully with all Australian Standards.This means that you can rest assured knowing your family is safe while enjoying beautifully designed balustrades built for a lifetime.
If you have any other questions, just contact Sentrel and we can help. You can reach us at 1300 658 330, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our online enquiry form.