If you have been considering a Tree Change, you have most likely come across the acronym “BAL”. The Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) is a way of measuring the severity of a building’s potential exposure to ember attack, radiant heat and direct flame contact. It’s measured in increments of radiant heat (expressed in kilowatts/m2).
Living in the bush doesn’t necessarily amount to compromising the safety of your family or property. By keeping the relevant design and regulatory considerations in mind when building your rural home in a bushfire-prone area, you can have a highly rewarding tree change! Moving to the country offers plenty of perks, from the fresh air to the serene atmosphere and scenic views.
Here are some recommendations for building your beautiful home in a bushfire-prone area:
1. Determine Your Property’s Bush Attack Level (BAL)
Before developing any piece of land within a bushfire-prone area of Western Australia (as classified by the Fire and Emergency Services (FES) Commissioner), consider checking its BAL designation. You’ll need to refer to the Building Code of Australia and Australian Standard 3959 to build your home in compliance with the requirements for medium, high, or extreme bush attack classifications. Each BAL indicates the appropriate construction materials to use for your house.
2. Use the Right Construction Materials
AS3959 defines construction requirements for critical parts of houses in areas prone to bushfire. Be sure to take the standards into account when constructing the roof, eaves, supporting posts, external doors, decks, verandas, and other building elements exposed to fire.
According to AS3959, you can use non-combustible materials to build a home in a bushfire-prone area. If you’re going to use timber to construct the floor as per the extreme bush attack classification, be sure the material is fire-retardant treated, or it’s protected underneath with non-ignitable sheeting.
Use weatherstrips and tight-fitting bronze, aluminium, or steel fly screens on your exterior doors. However, don’t use aluminium mesh if the property is in a high-risk designation.
3. Positioning Your House on the Block
Choose an appropriate building site to limit your exposure. For example, bushfire tends to intensify extremely fast on steep hillsides–so decide if you want to live in these areas. Likewise, consider creating a buffer zone by clearing some vegetation around the site of your future home.
But sometimes you may not have much choice when it comes to positioning your house. In such cases, design considerations, as well as the use of the right construction materials, can help expand your options.
4. Designing Your Home
Great bushfire design should shield you and your family from the effects of burning debris and ember attacks. You can protect your property this way by incorporating simple layouts and rooflines to avoid trapping combustible debris. Likewise, it helps to use fire-resistant construction materials and window protection. You could also integrate sprinkler systems into the architecture for maximum safety.
As you design your outdoor living spaces, consider adding landscaping elements to help slow the momentum of a bushfire. Features like swimming pools, irrigated lawns, or dams may not be the first line of defence against bushfire, but they can hinder its progression.
6. Getting Expert Help
Building a home for bushfire-prone areas presents a host of compliance, design, and customisation challenges. Getting advice early on from a builder that has experience building in BAL areas will avoid future disappointment and get you on the right track.
So, as a prospective rural homeowner, you want to consult extensively about the type of fire-retardant materials to use to match the official BAL designation. Stallion Homes have been building in regional areas since 1975 and have extensive knowledge when it comes to building requirements in BAL prone areas.
So, when you are ready to go ahead and begin your tree change, contact us to begin the journey to your dream custom country home.