This past weekend, when I was relaxing in front of the television, firefighters were out battling bush fires across the state and across the country. Homes were being lost and lives uprooted. To prevent, or at least reduce the likelihood of this becoming an all too common sight Australia, and the State of NSW have implemented new building codes in bushfire prone areas. Of course, we’re building in one of these areas…
The State of NSW has a ranking system from zero to three – three being the highest and an area most likely area to encounter a bushfire. Additional building requirements are ammended to your plans whenever you try to build in these areas, and the more fire prone you are, the more expensive it gets.
The methodology for determining a given building’s construction requirements are:
- Determine whether the building is in a designated bushfire prone area.
- Using the site classification procedure, determine the bushfire attack level (BAL)
- Select the appropriate construction solutions for the BAL level
The site assessment procedure is based on scientific data. The site classification process now includes a fire danger index (FDI) as well as factoring in more realistic slope aspects such as:
- the slope under the vegetation as well as the subject building;
- whether there is an upslope or downslope; and
- distance from the building to the vegetation.
Depending on these factors, you will be required to add additional protection feature to your home when building. We fell into level one, which required screens across all the weepholes in the brickwork, screens on all our gutters, and additional framing for the sarking within our roof.
Since we were only listed as zone 1, our additional costs were around $5,000. I’ve heard that zone three carries a price tag upwards of $15,000 in upgrades. It may seem like a lot but when you think about it, it’s trivial in the grand scheme of things. It’s a small price to pay to help protect your home from the vicious Australian bushfires.