We are having a deck built and I am enquiring as to whether we are able to have horizontal tensioned wire around the area. The maximum height of the finished deck is about 1.5 metres at the highest coming down to ground level. The builder we are looking to use said that we can only have vertical below the handrail with no climbable elements. Can you please let me know about the regulations.

Question by:
Karen Ruddy's picture
Karen Ruddy

Hi Karen,

Good question - there was talk of amendments to the regulations regarding climbable elements on decks and incorporating some stuff about 'non-climbable zones' into the National Construction Code (NCC).

We hinted about those at the end of our article about decking handrails (which was written when potential amendments were being discussed), but to date we can't see any evidence that those amendments have made it into the construction code.

Our understanding is that the only relevant restrictions on horizontal / climbable elements for decks below 4m is on the spacing between those horizontal elements (needs to be no greater than 125mm to prevent things falling through).

Here's a great visual guide that shows the basic requirements for handrails and balustrades courtesy of Tyrrell's Property Inspections - note the 'sphere test' in the middle, and the balustrade bit on the right.

Definitely worth asking the builder to elaborate on why he or she believes that horizontal / climbable elements aren't allowed - maybe the builder knows something we don't about the situation of your deck.

Hope this helps,
The BUILD team


With thanks to:

Jerry Tyrrell,
Architect, Building and Timber Pest Consultant | Tyrrells Property Inspections


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