Properties surrounded by stunning trees and bushlands can be the perfect spot to build a small home or granny flat. However many people don’t know there are essentual rules to building in a bushfire zone.
It’s one of the major hidden costs capable of emerging when you decide to build a granny flat or new home.
Funky Little Shack has extensive experience designing luxury small homes on properties prone to bushfire. There are a range of bushfire ratings, and different construction and site requirements. Check out our free tips below!
Why Do I Need To Know My Bushfire Risk?
If you live close to or in bushland knowing whether you fall under a Council bushfire hazard overlay is a must.
To gain the required Building Approval (BA) you need to address any Council overlays on your property. These include overlays like bushfire, flood, landslip, environmental, and more.
Finding out if your site is affected by a bushfire hazard overlay can be as simple as searching your address on your council’s website. Or you can call your local Council to ask.
Or make it easy and order a Site Investigation Report – call us today to learn more.
But what do you do from there?
If you have a bushfire overlay over your property you will need a specialised bushfire consultant to complete a Hazard Assessment & Mitigation Plan/Report. Depending on the scope of work and area you live this generally costs $500-$1,000. This report will specify your property’s Bushfire Attack Level (BAL rating).
The outcome of the report will inform what building materials must be used to ensure your home is protected in the event of a fire.
What Is A BAL Rating?
This is where it sometimes gets confusing. Let’s break it down.
Your property could be labelled with one of five BAL ratings ranging from ‘low risk’ to ‘extreme risk’. These measure the expected level of heat affecting your home if a fire was to strike. These are:
- BAL 12.5 (low risk)
- BAL 19 (moderate risk)
- BAL 29 (high risk)
- BAL 40 (very high risk)
- BAL FZ (‘Flame Zone’ – extreme risk)
This BAL rating will determine how your home must be constructed, where it can be located on your property, and what materials need to be used. This could include using non-combustible or special fire-rated materials, like non-combustible cladding such as fibre cement sheeting or bricks, thicker glass for windows and glass doors, and fibre cement sheeting on the underside of a raised floor.
Using these materials can add higher costs to your project. Very high risk zones can increase building costs by 10-20%.
Additionally, you may be required to clear a certain distance of vegetation around your dwelling to create a “buffer zone”.
Usually this isn’t a problem… unless your property is also affected by Environmental Protection overlays. Talk to your Local Council to find out more.
However, in our experience most properties in or close to bushfire zones have a moderate to low risk. And there are adequate building materials available to safely construct with.
I Want To Learn More!
That wraps up our guide to building in a bushfire zone, and we have so many more tips on granny flats to share.
If you want to know if building on your property is feasible, and want to know all the approvals you’ll need, ask us about ordering a Site Investigation Report.
Our design packages start from $6,000+GST, and include everything you need to create the luxury small home of your dreams.
We’d love to have a chat!