Building rules, regulations and information

Upgrading existing buildings and structures

Under some circumstances the safety and health requirements for existing buildings must be upgraded under provisions in the Development Act 1993 and the Development Regulations 2008.

When upgrading is mandatory

In some circumstances, property owners are legally required to upgrade specific aspects of their property prior to, or after the transfer of the property title.

Smoke alarms

Purchasers of dwellings have 6 months from the date of transfer of the property to upgrade the existing smoke alarms to the current Australian Standard. Smoke alarms in an extension to a dwelling may be required to be interconnected to the smoke alarms in the existing dwelling.

Swimming pools and spa pools

All swimming pools or spa pools must have a continuous safety barrier maintained by the pool owner that restricts access by young children to the pool.

If you are selling your property with a swimming pool or spa pool built before July 1993 you must upgrade the safety barriers to meet the requirements of Minister’s Specification SA 76D (298.1 KB PDF).

When upgrading is discretionary

In some circumstances, a relevant authority ie the Development Assessment Commission, Council or a private certifier, may require part or all of an existing building to be upgraded. Circumstances include:

Applications for alterations to existing buildings

If an application is made to alter a building constructed before 1 January 2002, the relevant authority may require that building work be carried out to ensure that the building is safe and conforms to proper structural and health standards.

Applications for change of use or reclassification

If an application is made for a change of use or change of building classification, additional work may be required to ensure that the building is appropriate to its present or intended use.

Council Building Fire Safety Committees

If a Council Building Fire Safety Committee is not satisfied that the fire safety of an existing building is adequate, they can require the building owner to carry out work to fix that.

Dwellings in bushfire prone areas

If an application is made for an alteration to a dwelling in a bushfire prone area and the total floor area of the dwelling would increase by at least 50% in size as it existed three years before the date of the application, then the relevant authority may require the entire building to conform with the Building Rules for bushfire protection.

Upgrading access and facilities for persons with a disability

The Commonwealth Disability (Access to Premises-Building) Standard 2010 (Premises Standard) was adopted under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 on 1 May 2011 and contains improved access provisions for both new and existing buildings.

From 1 October 2012, when an existing building is being altered or added to and the new work is such that it requires assessment against the provisions of the National Construction Code, the Council or private certifier undertaking the building rules assessment can require that an ‘affected part’ must also be upgraded to make it accessible.

There are some circumstances under which an ‘affected part’ of a building cannot be required to be upgraded including if it would cause ‘unjustifiable hardship’ to require the work to be carried out or if the part of the building being altered is being undertaken by a lessee (other than where the whole building is being leased by the same person). Concessions to the access requirements also apply for existing lifts and sanitary facilities in some instances.

Adaptive reuse of existing buildings

Small arts venues

From 1 May 2016, state variations included in the National Construction Code provide a number of concessions for buildings defined as small arts venues ie buildings or parts of buildings that provide cultural activities including live music, visual arts displays, dancing, poetry and spoken word performances for the public.

Less onerous construction requirements apply if the whole or part of a small arts venue has a rise of not more than two storeys, the floor area does not exceed 300 square metres and there are no pyrotechnics or theatrical smoke used.

This initiative was in response to recommendations made by the Music Industry Council report Enhancing Live Music in South Australia - Recommendations - March 2015.

Minister’s Code

Two working groups were established by the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure to consider the National Construction Code provisions as they relate to existing buildings and whether any concessions or exemptions are appropriate.

A draft Minister's Code was developed and was released for public consultation in November 2016. Consultation closed on 6 January 2017.

Related information


Development Act 1993
Development Regulations 2008

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Page last updated 24 May 2017

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