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  • Writer's pictureMichael Hebiton

CLASSIFICATION OF FARM BUILDINGS AND SHEDS

The National Construction Code (NCC) 2016 introduced Part H3 Farm Buildings and Farm Sheds. This Part permits concessions for Class 7 and Class 8 buildings used for farming.


As defined in NCC 2019:

Farming means—

a) cultivating, propagating and harvesting plants or fungi or their products or parts, including seeds, spores, bulbs or the like, but does not include forestry; or

b) maintaining animals in any physical environment for the purposes of—

i. breeding them; or

ii. selling them; or

iii. acquiring and selling their bodily produce such as milk, wool, eggs or the like; or

c) a combination of a) and b) but does not include forestry or maintaining animals for sport or recreational purposes.

Farm building means a Class 7 or 8 building located on land primarily used for farming

a) that is—

i. used in connection with farming; or

ii. used primarily to store one or more farm vehicles; or

iii. a combination of i and ii; and

A. in which the total number of persons accommodated at any time does not exceed one person per 200 m² of floor area or part thereof, up to a maximum of 8 persons; and

B. with a total floor area of not more than 3500 m².

Farm shed means a single storey Class 7 or 8 building located on land primarily used for farming—

a) that is—

i. used in connection with farming; or

ii. used primarily to store one or more farm vehicles; or

iii. a combination of i and ii; and

A. occupied neither frequently nor for extended periods by people; and

B. in which the total number of persons accommodated at any time does not exceed 2; and

C. with a total floor area of more than 500 m² but not more than 2000 m².


The following information is taken from the Australian Building Codes Boards website and helps to understand the classification of buildings on farms, including whether you can still classify a shed on a farm as Class 10a.


Why was Part H3 for Farm Buildings and Farm Sheds introduced in NCC 2016?

Part H3 contains concessions for Class 7 and Class 8 buildings used for farming. Concessions from certain requirements are provided because these buildings pose a lower risk to occupants than buildings of the same class that are not used for farming.


Buildings used for farming are identified in the NCC through the new defined terms 'farming', 'farm building' and 'farm shed'. The defined term 'farming' details what is considered to be farming for the purposes of the NCC while the defined terms 'farm building' and 'farm shed' detail two different types of buildings used for 'farming'. Part H3 distinguishes requirements based on whether a building is a 'farm building' or a 'farm shed'.


The size of the building and level of occupancy are the two criteria that differentiate between a 'farm building' and a 'farm shed'. This differentiation allows further concessions to be applied to 'farm sheds', which present less hazard than 'farm buildings'.


It is important to note that the classification of a building is a separate process to identifying whether a building is a 'farm building' or a 'farm shed'.


Can you still have a Class 10a shed on a farm?

Under the BCA, a building’s classification is determined by the purpose for which it is designed, constructed or adapted to be used. Therefore, you can still have a Class 10a shed on a farm. Some judgment is required to discern the difference between a Class 10a shed and a Class 7b shed. When determining if a storage building is Class 7b or Class 10a it is necessary to consider the building’s size, purpose and the extent to which it is occupied. A storage building that presents a hazard on account of being large and used by employees in a large farming operation could be appropriately classified as Class 7b. Conversely a small storage shed that presents little hazard, such as that shown in the photograph below, could be appropriately classified as a Class 10a building.


Who is responsible for the classification of buildings?

Classification of a building is the responsibility of the appropriate authority e.g. the Building Certifier. It is a process of categorising buildings of similar risk levels based on use, hazard and occupancy.


Guide to NCC Volume One

Some of the explanatory information from this article has been drawn from the Guide to NCC Volume One. The Guide is a companion manual to Volume One and is intended to be used as a reference for people seeking clarification of Volume One provisions.

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