ARARAT Rural City Council has urged the Building Commission to withdraw draft guidelines which require owners of large farm sheds to install extra features such as toilets and disabled access.
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Director of council services Neil Manning said the commission had not specifically directed building surveyors on how to classify farm sheds in the past.

“Building surveyors had their own way of doing things and previously, building surveyors would say it might be a big shed but it’s only a hay shed so it does not need anything else like toilets,” he said.”So they classed it as an ordinary shed.

“Now the direction is, these sheds must comply with these specific classifications. They don’t define how large is large.

“They say they should not be treated as Class 10a sheds, which are ordinary garages or farm sheds, but they should be called either warehouses or factories, which are Class 7 or 8.

“That means a whole bunch of extra things are required; they must have disabled access, potentially disabled toilets and ordinary toilets, for what could just be a hay shed.

“We are writing letters to the commission and politicians.

“We are not happy with the draft; it should be withdrawn until things are sorted out.”

A Wimmera business owner, who declined to be named, said the draft regulations would have ‘horrific implications’ for the farming community.

He said he was planning to fight the issue and hoped to seek a further ruling on the classification.

The commission sent a Draft Practice Note to industry which explains existing classification principles under the national Building Code of Australia.

A commission spokeswoman said the commission was not proposing the reclassification of farm buildings, but was clarifying classifications for farm buildings which had existed since 1990.

“The responsibility for the classification of a building falls to the building surveyor issuing the permit, either municipal or private,” she said.

“It is the responsibility of the surveyor to decide what facilities are required in the building according to the classification they have determined.

“Typically, a small hay shed would be classified as a Class 10a building and would not require toilets, exit signs or other fire safety features.

“However, some farm buildings are extremely large structures and are also workplaces, and are therefore required to comply with the classification requirements for that type of building.”

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