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Building Your New Home in a Bushfire Rated Area

At Cobalt Constructions, one of our main priorities is future proofing the homes of our clients. In Victoria, that means keeping homes as safe as possible all year round. If you’re building in a bushfire prone area where your land has a high BAL rating, there are a number of ways to ensure the continued safety of your home and your property.

Some of the key factors to consider when designing your home include the orientation of your new home and the materials that will be used in the construction process.

Most homes in the Yarra Valley have a BAL rating of 29 or higher. At Cobalt Constructions, we can recommend specific building materials to meet your design aesthetic and comply with the required fire resistance rating. Here’s some of the considerations we analyse for you when it comes to designing and building a BAL rated home.

House orientation and landscaping

Obtaining a BAL assessment early in the design process will help identify the areas of your property that are subject to potential bushfire risk. With this assessment, your home can be positioned on the property in order to minimise these risks. Consideration should be given to the orientation of the home to shield the home from the source of attack, and the complexity of the home’s shape to reduce the accumulation of embers.

Landscaping and vegetation planning is essential as vegetation can carry a fire front to the house or divert it away. Increasing the defendable space around the home is imperative, and is achieved through the separation of the house from vegetation. Whether by the positioning of fire retardant plants, adding paving, a pool, pond or dam between the house and the most potentially dangerous areas of the property, there are many ways to reduce the effects of radiant heat and direct flame contact.

Window treatments

Placement and sizes of windows should be carefully considered as frames and seals can ignite when exposed to ember attack, flame contact or radiant heat attack.

Toughened safety glass, metal shutters and fire-proof screens can be installed in bushfire prone areas to achieve the required BAL rating and protect against fire penetration.

Consider creating distance between windows and the elements with a fire resistant verandah, which acts as an effective way of blocking the harsh sun while welcoming the additional warmth in the winter months.

Cladding

Steel cladding is a popular choice because it’s the ultimate weatherproof and fireproof building solution, adding a contemporary and natural feel to the exterior of the home.

Fibre cement panels are also used in home design as a feature wall or cladding to the external façade. It is a hardwearing and durable material that can be painted or rendered to match the design of the home, there are even new products that come pre-finished and require no maintenance.

Fire resistant timbers are highly sought after materials in the construction industry due to their durability, aesthetic and fire resistant properties. With its rural flair, timber blends seamlessly with the natural surroundings and adds a warmth to your home’s façade that is unmatched by any other cladding option. Fire-resistant timbers include spotted gum, red river gum, turpentine, silvertop ash, blackbutt, merbau, and red ironbark.

Cobalt Constructions is proud to supply these specialty materials, which we believe will elevate the overall safety and look of your home.

Hardwood, composite and steel decks

We recommend hardwood timbers or composite boards (like Modwood or Ekodeck) for your home’s deck, as these are the most durable and fire resistant materials on the market. We line the underside of the timber boards with a fire resistant layer to protect the structure from embers and fire. Using a steel structure in a custom built deck is a great way to ensure that your deck remains secure and safe during bushfire season.

A BAL-rating is not something to be daunted by, it’s there to help protect properties, assets, and most importantly people’s lives. If you are planning to build a new home or undertake a major renovation of an existing home, make sure you consider the requirements or simply reach out to a builder who has the expertise to guide you through the process.

Contact Cobalt Constructions today to find out how you can design and build a safe and secure home in the Yarra Valley.

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