Many of us have lost a lot in bushfires, or been encircled by flames, and so we have bushfire feelings. Few Australians are unaffected. Does that mean we should lurk only in the cities? Certainly not, but we need to plan, and to a degree the government that we, ‘the people’ have elected has set down some rules.
Any house built in a location that has been designated as aBushfire Prone Area will need to establish a potential Bushfire Attack Level (BAL). There is a further complication in particularly high-risk areas with ‘Bushfire Overlays’ requiring additional planning approval.
A building permit in a bushfire prone area cannot be obtained without a BAL.
The BAL for your property is established by an accredited expert and at Leader build we work with known and trusted associates.
For some obscure reason the BAL ratings range is: Low, 12.5,19, 29, and flame zone.
Here is a shorthand chart (just a rough outline) to give an idea of how the BAL will affect your construction.
BAL low: No special requirements
BAL 12.5: Not hard to achieve, attention required to enclosing floor spaces, door and window specs, and fire-resistant decking
BAL 19: Similar to 12.5 with more attention to windows
BAL 29: As above adding bushfire resistant cladding.
BAL 40: Also, as above but windows much higher spec
Flame zone: Much more challenging. Windows require shutters, sub floor protection is demanding, no timber cladding, no gaps in non-combustible decking.
For an easily digestible chart go to: http://www.bal.net.au/BAL-Chart.pdf
Our experience is that BAL mostly affects windows, timber cladding, and decking choices – and adds costs accordingly although at the lower ranges not dramatically.
It might feel like an impost, but if one day a fire was approaching one might be grateful. Even if you have sensibly removed yourself to a safer place, BAL measures might give your house a greater chance of being saved.
There are many other aspects to bushfire protection. You will probably have to have a dedicated water reserve for the CFA, and it might be wise to have a fire pump, hose reel or even a sprinkler system. At Leader build the whole property approach means that we will include bushfire planning in all our design and construction thinking.
There are many great resources regarding living in a bushfire area, for example: https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/