Residential BAL Ratings
Bush fires are a reality of life and as we found in the 2019 / 2020 summer, can be devastating in terms of loss of life and property. In terms of home building, the BAL (Bushfire Attack Level) level is the risk level you need to cater to. All new estates will have a BAL plan which shows which properties may be effected and to what extent. You should ask for this plan early as it can impact your build costs.
There are 6 BAL levels from low to high.
|BAL||Description of risk|
|BAL – LOW||Lowest risk from a potential fire.|
|BAL – 12.5||Risk is primarily from potential embers during a fire.|
|BAL – 19||Moderate risk, particularly from embers and burning debris.|
|BAL – 29||High risk, particularly from embers, debris and heat.|
|BAL – 40||Very high risk. Likely to be impacted by embers, debris, heat and potentially flames.|
|BAL – FZ||Extreme risk. Directly exposed to the flames of a potential fire front.|
So what are the cost implications?
Pretty much as the same as the BAL ratings being low to high. With BAL 12.5 we can often design in the improvements required to get that level without any cost implication. BAL 19 is not difficult to do so there is only a minor cost implication typically.
BAL 29 – 40 is different though. We need to start considering materials and fire protection specific to the home and site. It is common for one side of a house to back onto bushland so the BAL rating at the front and rear can differ. Costs will be impacted but with some clever early design and smart choice of materials you can keep it to a reasonable level. So yes there are additional costs but do not abandon your consideration of such sites.
BAL – FZ pretty much means the bush there is highly likely to burn one day and you better be ready or gone. Such homes are bespoke in terms of fire design and can cost considerably more to build.
Further information is at this link.