Multiple Classification of Commercial & Industrial and Public Buildings for flexibility of use in accordance with the Building Code of Australia (BCA)

by Allan Johanson

For those BDA members who submit Development Applications for Commercial, Industrial and even for Public Buildings, the usual practice has been to nominate on the Development Application Form, the appropriate building "classification" in conformity with the owner/client description of the buildings' use. e.g. :

An office/workshop or office/factory complex - Classes 5 & 8

Shop tenancies - Class 6

Office tenancies - Class 5

Office/warehouse complex - Class 5 & 7

What happens down the track as properties change tenants (or owners) and the use changes, an application for "change of use" under the BCA is usually required. This costs time and money.

The planning consent side may still be required, but the BCA regulation component can be expedited as shown below.

A designer/developer may want some flexibility, or may not know beforehand whether a specific tenancy will be an office or a shop. Then the application form can nominate both classifications as long as the BCA regulations are taken into consideration for these classifications. This is not particularly onerous for closely related classifications, but do check your classes of building against BCA regulation requirements, as public buildings and buildings which include accommodation can require more specific, regulated construction.

So, an office plus large steel framed building behind can be classified as both a office/factory (5 & 8) and office warehouse (5 & 7)

A group of leased spaces can be classified as both offices (5) and shops (6)

A large sale/storage building that is flexible retail / wholesale use can be classified as both shop (6) & warehouse (7).

A large open spaced building could be classified as both meeting hall (9b) and office (5)

More than one classification can apply to "a building or part of a building".

Should you meet any disbelieving Building Certifiers or council staff, refer them to BCA Regulation A3.4 and also the "Guide to the BCA" A3.4, "Parts with more than one classification"; the intent of which is, "to permit a part of a building to have more than one classification".

Relating this back to "planning rules" consent matters, issues such as required car parking amounts vary between uses and the permitted uses within a planning zone vary, so discussion with the local council Development Officer is advised.

Building Rules Consent application fees are usually based on the class which attracts the highest fee.

Remember that in general, design for flexibility extends the useful life of a building, is beneficial to your client and is environmentally responsible.




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