building-in-a-bushfire-zone-what-do-you-need-to-know

Building in a Bushfire Zone – what do you need to know?

If the recent bushfire season in Australia has taught us anything, it’s how quickly fire events can take hold and the devastating results when they do. Our Australian bush is one of the most beautiful environments in which to live, but if you’re building in a bushfire zone you’ll want to take every precaution to ensure your home has the best chance of survival if there is ever a fire.

Regulations around building in bushfire zones can be complicated so it’s worth working with an expert who understands what steps need to be taken and can advise sensibly on what products need to be specified in order to meet the standards required.

Here you can take advantage of our expertise with a few key things to bear in mind if your home falls into a bushfire zone.

Planning for bushfire protection

All developments or buildings that are being built on bush fire prone land must legally meet the requirements of the Planning for Bushfire Protection (PBP) document. This document was created as a result of the 2001 Christmas fires in Sydney in which 109 homes were destroyed and more than 750,000 hectares were burnt. A Joint Parliamentary Inquiry was established and the first version of the document was released which detailed the specifications for building on any land identified as being bushfire prone.

The document – the current legislated version is PBP 2019 – serves as a guide for councils, planners, fire authorities and developers who wish to build in bushfire prone areas. This was also legislatively adopted in the Environmental Planning & Assessment Regulations on 1 March 2020.

COMPLYING DEVELOPMENT IN BUSHFIRE AREAS

It is possible to commence Complying Development on bushfire prone land, however, this can only be done in accordance with the requirements set out in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008.

Some low risk types of development are exempt from the bushfire requirements, such as non-habitable detached developments that are more than 6 metres from any dwelling, landscaped areas, non-combustible fences and swimming pools.

If your land falls under the Bushfire Attack Level 40 (BAL-40) or in the Flame Zone (BAL-FZ), you will be unable to carry out Complying Development.

The rules to be met for a Complying Development application under the Complying Development Codes are:

  • The lot must have access to a public road (or a road vested in or maintained by the local council)
  • The dwelling must be able to be connected to mains electricity
  • If reticulated or bottled gas is installed and maintained on site, it must be installed and maintained in accordance with AS/NZS 1596:2014 and the storage and handling of LPG comply requirements of the relevant authorities
  • Gas cylinders stored within 10 metres of a dwelling house must meet certain standards specified in the codes
  • There must not be any polymer sheathed flexible gas supply lines to gas meters adjacent to a dwelling
  • There must be reticulated water supply connection to the lot and a fire hydrant within 70 metres of any part of the development (or if the land is located in a RU5 zone, compliance with the above requirements or have a 10,000-litre water tank on the lot).

DETERMINE YOUR BUSHFIRE ATTACK LEVEL

Determining the Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) on your property will establish the construction methods and materials required to improve the protection of your building from bushfire attack. The level of BAL Rating is a measure of the severity of your building’s potential exposure to ember attack, radiant heat and direct flame contact. There are six ratings:

  • BAL Low
  • BAL 12.5
  • BAL 19
  • BAL 29
  • BAL 40
  • Flame Zone

The team at Immaculate Home has built in each of the 6 BAL Rating classifications, so you can be confident that experience is on your side when it comes to your home renovation project with us!

If you are considering the purchase of bushfire prone land, or wish to renovate or extend your home that currently exists on bushfire prone land, we’d love to hear from you and share with you the ways in which we can help protect you and your home from threat.