Know your Building Code

Are you aware of the Building Code of Australia?

Last month Indesign Live in conjunction with Tappeti, published a fantastic guide on how the Australian BCA effects rug specification.

In the life of a commercial interior designer, there are many hats to wear. From the structural, electric, mechanical and hydraulic aspects of a fit out, to a deep understanding of the myriad finishes, lighting and loose furniture, it’s a case of not just jack-of-all trades, but master-of-all.

Underpinning all of this is the Building Code of Australia (BCA), the three-volume guideline that outlines the minimum standards of compliance in architecture and design in Australia. Covering all forms of structures from single dwelling homes to commercial spaces the BCA is still the comprehensive touchstone for industry standards. When it comes to flooring, for example, there are strict standards to comply with, relating primarily to safety and accessibility.

For carpets and loose-laid rugs, the BCA asks that pile height and thickness should not exceed 11mm, with a maximum thickness of 4mm for carpet backing – to ensure ease of disability access. It also requires that carpet samples be subjected to testing in AS/ISO 9239.1-2003, to determine the ‘Critical Heat Flux’, or, ‘Critical Radiant Flux’, which calculates the amount of smoke emitted when the sample is lit on fire, as well as the time it takes for the sample to self-extinguish.

Tappeti offers non-slip underlay and a reduced pile height to ensure your rug meets the BCA standard.

“There are regulations outlined in the BCA within AS1428.1 and AS 1428.2 with reference to carpets and ‘other soft floor coverings’. These specifically refer to fixed or recessed floor coverings and in particular to carpet installation,” outlines Jenny Deacon of GroupGSA. “For Government projects or public areas we may not specify a floor rug if it didn’t meet carpet compliance and prevented wheelchair access where appropriate.”

Karinna Gobbo, the director of Tappeti Fine Hand-Crafted Rugs + Carpets has ample experience at being on the other end of these discussions. As a carpet and rug supplier, she notes that, “Designers often have an assumption that when they specify a product for a commercial fit out that it meets commercial standards”. Which is not an unreasonable assumption, you might think – however, there are many products in the market that are non-compliant.

With the responsibility that comes with the trade, it’s crucial that interior designers use all the tools and resources they can. “When we specify materials we often seek guidance from a learned supplier: slip ratings for tiles, rub ratings for fabrics and textiles, acoustic ratings with cladding materials,” says Ali McShane of The Bold Collective. “We find that suppliers usually have the BCA information on hand that is relevant and up to date – that information is invaluable,” she adds.

Above: While many pile heights are possible, the BCA standard will inform which is appropriate for a specific application.

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