Rebuilding After Bushfire: Callignee II with Chris Clarke

So, picture this. You’ve spent 10 years planning, designing and then building your dream home. And two weeks after you’ve completed it, it’s completely destroyed in the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009.

Would you start rebuilding after bushfire on the same site? Chris Clarke did, and created a stunning home he called Callignee II.

In this interview, I speak with Chris Clarke, Builder and Director of SWALE Modular.

After losing his home in the 2009 Victorian fires in the Gippsland region, Chris embarked on the process of rebuilding on the same site.

His home Callignee II was featured in the first episode of Grand Designs Australia Season One.

Chris has an incredible story to share, and a lot of insights that are both practical and mindset related to really help anyone who is rebuilding or building in a bushfire prone area.

So let’s dive in.

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

Amelia Lee + Chris Clarke (Builder and SWALE Modular)

[Amelia Lee]: Well, Chris, it’s fantastic to have you here. I am so excited to be speaking with you about your journey with Callignee II, and to be sharing you with the Undercover Architect community. I know that you all have a wealth of information that’s going to be a huge benefit, particularly to those who are rebuilding after a bushfire. But also just generally understanding how to build more strategically, and to make better decisions with the types of homes that they’re creating.

Now, I want to just sort of start with framing the picture of where things were at for you. Because of course, you know, you’ve spent years planning and building Callignee I and then saw it all get burned down in the Black Saturday fires.

Many wouldn’t have questioned you wanting to leave or just walking away and trying something else somewhere else. What actually compelled you to build again on the same site?

[Chris Clarke]: Well, thanks for having me Amelia, I love what you’re doing. There’s so many people out there that are in the same position now. And it is an interesting first stage of ‘what are you going to do, and what choices do you have’.

I think that, you know, to me it came back to passion and connection on the site. And I wrote the brief before designing my home and couldn’t believe how well the brief actually went. And this was a place that I really wanted to connect to.

I guess that once you put a few of those things together, that’s … it was the connection to nature and the connection to the wildlife and … those things that I actually wanted … I wanted to get them back. And of course you think, you look at the other side of it and you say ‘well, what options do I really have as well?’. Because we’ve just had mass destruction around us. So we’re going to sell a property? And how long is that going to take? And what’s going to happen in the middle? Is the best option to actually get a house back on it and then actually sell it, or try to actually fit back into that environment and that community?

So I don’t think it’s an easy choice. And with planning, like BAL Flame Zone and all of those hurdles around you … I think that they have the ability themselves to really upset communities.

[Amelia Lee]: Yes. Did you find that others were really … I mean, were you sort of unusual, that you were ready to kind of make a decision to build again? And others in your community just was stuck? How … I mean, I can’t imagine what that was like for everybody. I know there was huge devastation where you were.

[Chris Clarke]: Because I was in the industry, obviously, it was a lot easier for myself. But of course, we all had to jump the same hurdles. And there was some planning gateways that opened, and we could actually get in and start. But of course, the big one was that the committee really didn’t understand what was actually in front of them as well, because we had all of these changing. The hurdles were getting higher, and nobody really knew it that early.

So people who were in these heavily treed sites were classified as BAL BAL Flame Zone. And I’m sure that people if they’d actually knew what BAL BAL BAL Flame Zone ended up being at that particular time, it probably would have made a difference to their decisions.

[Amelia Lee]: You weren’t allowed to clear any of your trees where you? That was part of the issue around it being the BAL Flame Zone and not being able to sort of actually create an asset protection zone around your property.

[Chris Clarke]: That’s the biggest thing about the codes and regulations. It’s that … we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, really. And virtually, they’ve promised us $20,000 for BAL Flame Zone, and obviously, the additional cost, and one tiny little part of that was $20,000.

[Chris Clarke]: So you had all of these people that were forcing you to actually spend money in areas that you really didn’t want to spend. And that’s what made it tough. And I think that that’s what made it tough in most of the communities as well, because a lot of people were over capitalized and ended up being okay. Thanks guys, because now we’re stuck in for the rest of our lives and we can’t get out.

[Amelia Lee]: Yes, it is. It’s one of those areas. And it’s, you know, I think it’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about bringing this information out, and being able to speak to incredible people like you who can share your experience.

So having been there and navigated this scenario, because it’s … that thing of having the right information up front can really help you be far more strategic about the decisions that you move forward with. I know that the research that I’ve been doing is that if you can actually, give yourself pause. Help yourself to, I suppose, think and plan ahead of how you might do things differently. You can create far better outcomes for yourself and make the process more achievable for yourself. And I saw great success for you in this regard, too.

Because, you actually, in watching the Grand Designs episode, said, you know ‘the first house I built as a statement, this house I’m building for me’. And, I thought it was incredible that you gave yourself whatever you did. You set yourself up to have the chance to think differently about what you would do differently for this … this build.

How did you actually get into that frame of mind to be strategic rather than just rebuild what you had? I mean, you would have had … it would have just been like a copycat, I kind of just roll it out again.

But how did you give yourself pause to actually give yourself the bandwidth to think, ‘okay, I’m going to do this differently, I’m going to plan it differently. I’m going to approach it differently?’.

[Chris Clarke]: I look at the industry and … people that build houses, really only build one of them in their lifetimes. And most of them actually make so many mistakes … it isn’t funny and they over build them into their dream.

And so, to actually have a fire take everything from you, and give you a second chance to actually really take a look at what you’ve just built and tear it apart … It’s almost a forced minimalist style of living because you start completely again. No furniture, no nothing, and say ‘great, well, okay, what have I got to work with?’. And your parameters are completely different. You go into a completely different headspace.

And it’s been now part of my life, you know. When I look at my homes that started off at 300 square meters, and the next one was 160 and the next one probably about 60. We’re even down to … in our 30s at the moment. And I think the smaller they are, the more joy that I’ve actually had from moments. And so, well in some ways you’re blessed to have another opportunity to have another stab at it, I guess. So, it’s definitely turning something that was so horrific into a positive, and trying to control it. It was a big one.

[Amelia Lee]: No, it’s remarkable. I mean, that’s the thing that really struck me when I watched the Grand Designs episode. Your mindset and your approach in that was such a key part of the success of that project. And how inspirational it was to say, having suffered such trauma and losing your home that you were able to turn that around and see that as an opportunity to shape the environment differently, and the process differently, and the outcome differently for yourself.

So it’s, yes, it really blew me away to say it because I know how much people are suffering with that rebuilding exercise. Because they’re grieving what they’ve lost. But it was very clear that you saw that this was a chance to actually turn it into something positive.

[Chris Clarke]: To me, it was just a really good opportunity to be more sustainable. So, if you have the size, obviously, you have the embodied energy. You can spend that money on being off the grid and not having to build for the rest of your life. It’s great.

I remember the guy up the road, we were doing an interview for the ABC and he said ‘I throw stones at the guy who reads the power meter, because he just might take the hint that I just don’t have one!’. They all try and come up his driveway and he was just … crazy old guy … he just said ‘I’ve been living off the grid for 10 years go away!’.

THIS IS PART 1 OF MY INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS CLARKE, BUILDER + SWALE MODULAR.

This interview is part of our Rebuild + Build Better series.

Be sure to stay tuned as we share more information and expertise in helping you rebuild after bushfires, or build homes more resilient to climate conditions and in bushfire prone areas.

Resources mentioned in this video:

Lifestyle >>> LEARN MORE ABOUT CALLIGNEE II HERE

Grand Designs | Season 1, Episode 1 >>> WATCH THE EPISODE HERE

Swale Links and Resources

http://www.swale.com.au/http://www.dakinihideaways.com.au/https://www.facebook.com/SwaleModularCommunityhttps://www.realestate.com.au/lifestyle/transportable-modular-boat-house-on-pontoon/

Callignee Links and Resources

http://www.swalehomes.com.au/callignee-ii.htmlhttps://gippslandia.com.au/forged-in-the-fire/https://www.architectureanddesign.com.au/projects/houses/calignee-ii#
The post Rebuilding After Bushfire: Callignee II with Chris Clarke appeared first on Undercover Architect.

Save Money – Owner Build

Owner Builders you may have missed out of the Federal Government’s hand out but each state has increased their First Home Owners Grant or have a stamp duty discount, a Building Bonus even a grant for household goods.

Below is a list of what you are entitled to when building, so check out your States/Territory’s incentives for you as an Owner Builder.

Since 1987 we have been helping Owner Builders and the two main reasons to Owner Build have not changed – Control of the project and to save money, and how you save money is to take the place of the builder and save his margin and this can be up to 40%-50% in the case of renovations.

So take advantage of the governments offers.

Original article from Domain

NSW – $35,000

On top of the new HomeBuilder grant of $25,000, NSW first-home buyers already have access to a $10,000 grant for new properties costing less than $600,000 and owner-builder/building contracts worth less than $700,000.

If you’re buying land to build a new home, the total price – including the land and home – must be no more than $750,000.

There is also no stamp duty payable on property under $650,000, or vacant land under $350,000, while properties between $650,000 to $800,000, or vacant land between $350,000 to $450,000 get discounted stamp duty.

That’s a saving of up to $24,740 on a $650,000 home.

Victoria – up to $45,000

Victorians already had a $10,000 grant available for new first homes, and $20,000 for new homes built in regional areas, valued at $750,000 or less. They also don’t pay stamp duty on property under $600,000, with discounted stamp duty applying on property between $600,000 to $750,000.

That’s a saving of up to $31,070 for a home worth $600,000.

First-home buyers building or buying a property in regional Victoria can claim $45,000, while those buying closer into Melbourne will receive $35,000.

Queensland – $40,000

Queensland first-home buyers already got $15,000 towards buying or building a new house, unit or townhouse valued at less than $750,000. With the federal government’s HomeBuilder scheme, that will take the total available to claim to $40,000.

Queenslanders also don’t pay transfer (stamp) duty on homes costing less than $500,000, and a discounted rate up to $550,000. That translates to a saving of $15,925 on a home under $550,000.

Western Australia – $55,000

First-home buyers in Western Australia already had access to $10,000 to put towards the cost of building or buying a new home, but the past week has seen their incentives go next level.

On Sunday the state government announced it would spot home buyers a bonus $20,000 for new residential builds on top of the $25,000 already offered by the HomeBuilder scheme.

For first-home buyers, that takes the total cash pool to $55,000 – and that’s before the stamp duty concessions. 

Based on a purchase of $430,000, a first-home buyer would save $14,440 in stamp duty.

ACT – $25,000

Despite the ACT receiving the least amount of help, all ACT first-home buyers are exempt from paying stamp duty on all properties under a concession scheme which applies to new and established homes as well as vacant land, and at any price, as long as the buyer earns less than $160,000.

Prior to the scheme, ACT first-home buyers had $7000 available to them, but the grant was scrapped to make way for stamp duty abolition.

Tasmania – $45,000

Tasmanian first-home buyers were already eligible for a $20,000 grant from their state government. This applied to any new property, of any value.

Tasmania provides a 50 per cent stamp duty discount on properties below 400,000, which equates to a saving of nearly $7000.

South Australia – $40,000

A grant of $15,000 is already available for new properties valued at less than $575,000, so the HomeBuilder grant will take the total for South Australian first-home buyers to $40,000.

All first-home buyers pay some stamp duty in South Australia, although there is an off-the-plan stamp duty concession available of up to $21,330 on properties under $500,000.

Northern Territory – up to $55,000

A number of grants are available in the NT, as outlined on the Home Owners Assistance web page, but they include a $10,000 grant for first-home buyers, as well as a BuildBonus grant of $20,000.

Any home owner is eligible for BuildBonus but it is limited to the first 600 applications.

There is also a discount on stamp duty that could get first-home buyers up to $18,601 off the cost of stamp duty, as well as a scheme that gives them up to $2000 towards the cost of household goods.

Not including the stamp duty exemptions or the household goods grant, first-home buyers in the NT could get up to $55,000 in cash incentives once the new HomeBuilder grant is factored in.

The post Save Money – Owner Build appeared first on Australian Owner Builders.

Designing and Building Bushfire Resistant Houses: Urban planning for bushfire prone areas

What urban planning strategies need to be employed when designing and building bushfire resistant houses? And how do we help larger communities be more resistant and resilient to bushfires in the future?

There’s been a lot of talk about whether people should be ‘allowed’ to rebuild in these areas, and the potential for BAL ratings or requirements to increase in response to these fires.

In this video, we talk more about that topic and what to consider in terms of planning and strategising your project moving forward.

In this interview, I speak with Jeff Dau from Ember Bushfire Consulting.

EMBER Bushfire Consulting is a team of qualified, accredited and experienced fire industry professionals.

Co-Founder, Jeff Dau, has had 28 years of experience as a professional in the fire services industry. For the past 12 years this has been in a range of fire safety fields including fire safety engineering, bushfire protection, building certification and regulation and urban planning.

So let’s dive in.

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

Amelia Lee + Jeff Dau (Ember Bushfire Consulting)

[Amelia Lee]: Now you do a lot of work with subdivisions and helping developers understand better, I suppose, subdivision strategies and those types of things in bushfire prone areas.

How can some of that work that you do help communities understand how to build better resilience around their holistic performance in these types of situations?

[Jeff Dau]: So that’s the .. I guess … that’s the good news again, how this bushfire protection is influencing the way that we plan. So bushfire protection, very much, is a planning issue, it’s not a construction issue.

If we’re dealing with it at the construction side of things, then something’s been missed. Just because you can build in a BAL Flame Zone, it doesn’t mean that you should. And so that obviously clearly … and I, you know – again, I’m on the side of Black Mountain here.

My residence is probably BAL 40. Although it was built in the 60s, so there’s no chance so you know, we’re very much ‘leave early’. There’s no hanging around here on a bad day. And so what up property looks like, is we’re backing straight onto a reserve. There’s just no, there’s no set back. There’s no nothing. There’s no level of protection at all, no construction, but no, no setback.

So what we see in a lot in particular in Canberra, and seen in New South Wales is that when these new suburbs: they have to, by legislation, they have to get assessed and designed to consider bushfire now which is great.

So largely, we’ll see lots of edge roads – great. That’s, you know, something that’s never going to change. That’s a beautiful thing, the APZ (Asset Protection Zone) because it never really has to be managed.

And then along the easement, you’ll have, you know, grassland and what-not, you know, the small pocket of grassland.

So that’s the first thing I’ll say is that the suburbs have been designed. Access: there’ll be multiple points of access. So as a whole of community, they’re much better. Water supplies are taken into consideration. You know, historically the water supply has been to deal with structure fires, fires within the structure.

Now that it’s it’s actually looking at what’s … in the event of, you know, a bush or grass fire coming to the subdivision. These are now considered there as well. And then obviously, then the management and maintenance of these APZs and so that’s going back to some sort of body corporate or whoever’s running the subdivision now. So these areas are now managed on an ongoing basis. So that’s how it’s changing, which is great.

So the ideal … The hope is, is in that in any new suburb, any new subdivision, you shouldn’t have BAL 40 and BAL FZ (BAL Flame Zone) properties because if it hasn’t been, it shouldn’t have been, it shouldn’t have been accepted that DA planning level and that’s what RFS (Rural Fire Service) is [reviewing]

So that’s a lot of my work is to make sure that there is no dwelling, no building envelope, that is susceptible, is subject to a BAL 40 or BAL FZ rating. So hopefully we’ve got that right.

And then BAL 29 is a good build in terms of the cost and material selection. So that’s what I’d say in the planning and the planning space, even for two lot subdivision. So property owners have got a large lot, they want to break it down into two lots.

Even that new lot has to pass a test and that’s what we’d go in, taking planning bushfire protection and we assess the access … you know, where they want to build, and we will direct them on that as well. So, yes, that’s what’s happening in the planning space. And that’s where it all does need to happen.

[Amelia Lee]: It sounds incredibly sensible, in terms of an approach. Let’s be preventative about this and, and proactive, rather than us just willy nilly subdividing, and then letting the individual be the one who has to deal with the fallout of it.

[Jeff Dau]: Yes, that’s right. And that’s a product of the 1997, 1999 fires and before in New South Wales. They said, ‘You know, what, we need to change this’. And in 2006, planning for bushfire protections came in. And looked at construction, looked at all those elements that we talked about.

So I think we’re getting it right, we are getting right. And then, our evidence is that the construction is getting better.

So this, this need not be bad news. You know, it’s actually we’ve got some positive news, is that we are we making some changes here.

[Amelia Lee]: It’s been really interesting, I’ve had the benefit of talking with people that were very closely involved in the recovery after the Victoria 2009 fires and then seeing them being called in to help with this recovery effort now.

And the body of knowledge and experience being able to add to, I suppose, how people recover, how areas are going to recover, and what actually is going to be a better strategy moving forward.

There was a bit of criticism with the 2009 fires, that people were just pushed, there was an urgency to rebuild, and to try and get people kind of back to normalcy as soon as they could possibly be. And so people were, I think rebuilding, they were seen to be rebuilding potentially too soon for when they were ready.

And you know … and so, it’s, I think it’s really encouraging to see that, where there’s a different approach happening this time and it’s also being guided by a different learning process, that’s happening between these different 2003, 2009 fires, and what that might mean for planning moving forward.

Because we’re, you know, particularly down the eastern seaboard of Australia, which is where, you know, everybody was shocked to see the spread of the fires down that eastern seaboard.

But that’s also one of the most densest areas for population in Australia, and the densest areas for subdivision and for growth over the next 20 years. So it’s great to see that this is all informing that process in terms of a planning approach.

[Jeff Dau]: Yes, it’s coming together.

[Amelia Lee]: Now there’s been a conversation around should people even be allowed to rebuild in some of these areas.

I know that a lot … these areas that were affected, a lot of them are in your jurisdiction in terms of the areas that you service in your business.

What’s your thoughts around how you’ll help clients who might be rebuilding after this kind of event, to think about the strategies of rebuilding in these areas and whether it’s good decision in terms of what they do for their futures.

[Jeff Dau]: Yes, it’s a hard one, you know, and we’ve had ‘stay and defend’ for a long time … ever since … you know, and that’s I think this is largely what’s led to you know, a lot of fatalities in the light.

Whereas in say, the United States is they get the National Guard in and they just evacuate everywhere. But you see massive property loss as well.

There’s been some really bad fires there in California and you’ll see whole subdivisions just gone. So it turns from a vegetation fire into this suburban conflagration.

Like it’s just property to property to property. So, would be the point is, it would be a shame to lose that, that ability to stay.

Or to, you know, take that decision away, and I think we’re going to be holding on to that. What that means then for rebuilding is that … I think you know, largely, we should be allowed to go back in.

But because I think what is also happening is that now we’ve got this, because of these changes, we’ve got this other consideration in thought process. Exactly what we’ve just been talking about.

The structure is now more resilient, we’ve, you know, we’ve done all we can to improve the property. So I think that there’s going to be … my point is that there’s going to be less reliance on, you know, staying to defend.

The people are going to go, “you know, what, I’ve done a lot, and I’ve done everything I could to prepare this property from, you know, from the outset, when it was built. The APZ’s (Asset Protection Zones) are good, I’m now much more comfortable to leave”.

So it would be a shame to just have this situation where people are forced to evacuate, and therefore, not allowed to build.

But, I think that we have this, this other element in there that now helps that. Only because we’ve got these, you know, this new bushfire protection… we’ve improved bushfire protection.

I hope I’ve kind of answered that, you know. I think… I can’t see it happening where people won’t be allowed to build back in.

So in summary, what has changed is that we’re now perhaps more confident or positive that the structure of the home will survive.

Therefore, that takes the pressure off on having to stay and defend, and they can leave, and leave early. So, therefore they should be able to build.

I hope that answered the question. I sort of danced around there, but you know what I mean … I think that’s what’s changed. We’ve now gotten a new consideration.

You know, if you’ve built to BAL 29, and we’ve got the sprinkler system, and we’ve got a really good APZ, you’ll be, you know, far less likely to stay. You’re going to “you know what, I’m going to leave. And I reckon my house has got a good chance to survive”.

[Amelia Lee]: I think what the interesting challenge or the most, I suppose, the most confronting challenge for people is going to be is that the cost of rebuilding, and rebuilding to that standard, and whether that makes it unaffordable for people.

I know that there’s been fires that were a year prior to the most recent ones where a lot of those areas had become BAL Flame Zone in the time, you know, as legislation had been updated.

And so the people that lost their homes, that were in these areas, that then need to be rebuilt as BAL Flame Zone and they’re either uninsured or underinsured … is the challenge then of that cost of rebuild.

And it’s, yes, it’s that tricky balance, isn’t it, between having strategies around rebuilding to a code level that actually gives you that resilience and performance around your property, but then also being able to fund it and have a continuing lifestyle with your family around that area. So, there’s a lot of puzzle pieces coming into play.

But I think that you’re right in terms of just saying to people a blanket, ‘no, that place is no longer safe to leave, you can’t rebuild there’ is not the approach. And we do have the policies and procedures in place to enable rebuilding.

It’s the affordability piece that might be the challenging one.

[Jeff Dau]: I was just going to see, you know, encouraged by … to see how many people are leaving. It would appear is that there are fewer and fewer people who are willing to stay because, you know, the lessons of the past. Because of the ’03s (2003) and ’09s (2009 fires) which had huge, you know, a huge number of fatalities.

So I think people are learning as well. And it just, you hear it on the, you know, on the TV, when you certainly over the last summer, is that “I’m just going.

I’ve done what I can, I’m just going”. So I think that is happening more and that’s that’s, you know, very good thing.

And hopefully it does support this idea that, you know, we’ll go back there, you know, we’ll do what we can to the house and to the home. But the most important thing is life.

THIS IS PART 7 OF MY INTERVIEW WITH JEFF DAU, EMBER BUSHFIRE CONSULTING. WATCH OTHER PARTS HERE: PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4 | PART 5 | PART 6

This interview is part of our Rebuild + Build Better series.

Be sure to stay tuned as we share more information and expertise in helping you rebuild after bushfires, or build homes more resilient to climate conditions and in bushfire prone areas.

Resources mentioned in this video:

Get in touch with Jeff Dau, Ember Bushfire Consulting >>> https://www.bushfireassessor.com.au/Find a qualified bushfire consultant by searching for an accredited provider on the Fire Protection Association Australia website >>> http://www.fpaa.com.au/Get access to the Australian Standards AS3959 (instead of Hardcopy, change to PDF Download for 1 user to change the fee to FREE) >>> AS3959 IS HERE
The post Designing and Building Bushfire Resistant Houses: Urban planning for bushfire prone areas appeared first on Undercover Architect.

Building in a Bushfire Prone Area: BAL Ratings BAL 40 and BAL FZ

You’ve discovered that your property has a BAL 40 or BAL Flame Zone (BAL FZ) BAL rating on it. And everyone is telling you this Bushfire Attack Level, or BAL rating simply means your home will cost A LOT more to build or renovate.

However, there are specific things to know and ways that you can navigate this, to simplify the process overall. In your material choices, your project strategies and the help you seek.

Jeff Dau, Ember Bushfire Consulting, shares what to target in your bushfire resistant design strategy for rebuilding, building or renovating in a smarter, more resilient way.

In this interview, I speak with Jeff Dau from Ember Bushfire Consulting.

EMBER Bushfire Consulting is a team of qualified, accredited and experienced fire industry professionals.

Co-Founder, Jeff Dau, has had 28 years of experience as a professional in the fire services industry. For the past 12 years this has been in a range of fire safety fields including fire safety engineering, bushfire protection, building certification and regulation and urban planning.

So let’s dive in.

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

Amelia Lee + Jeff Dau (Ember Bushfire Consulting)

[Amelia Lee]: I can imagine you get a lot of pushback from people saying “it’s just going to be so much more expensive. Do I seriously need to do this?” Particularly if a BAL 40 or a BAL Flame Zone rating comes in.

That can be a horrendous shock to people to see what that might mean.

How do you talk through clients in terms of … I know that you’ve had a client who had a property that didn’t have a building on it that went through the recent fires, and they’re now kind of considering how they’re going to actually build on that property to be better performing?

How do you, once you deliver your assessment, how do you talk through clients, that process of ‘Okay, this is the scenario, but this is actually the opportunity’.

[Jeff Dau]: So I think the hardest part is, is that when I look at a site, I see a, you know, I try very much to visualise what it’s like on a bad day. And trying to relay that to the client. And they obviously say “What is the, you know, what is the threat? I don’t see any threat here, you know, like, it hasn’t burned in 50 years, it’s not going to burn again”.

So that’s, you know, they’re not seeing what I see. And that’s often the hardest part of it. Even like in a grassland setting (they’ll say), “it’s an empty paddock for goodness sakes”. But we know that grass fires can still be very, very destructive, very dangerous.

So that’s the first part is that, you know, you know, ‘why do I have to do this?’ I think that argument now is becoming less and less. We can just see that when we’re vulnerable, and more and more areas are vulnerable. So that’s hard.

But what I do try to do, obviously again, if there’s opportunity to move, and this is again that he planning system working, is push you to areas where it’s a lower BAL rating, so it’s safer. It’s also less to build. So that’s the response.

Luckily, the places that I’ve assessed, where they haven’t built yet, that that BAL Rating wasn’t that high. The trick will be, as I said, in these spots where it was always BAL Flame Zone, and the houses 40 – 50 years old or older, and now they have to rebuild.

But I think if it’s been burnt out, then the argument speaks for itself, I think. But it is going to be very hard, you know, just being straight up, it’s going to be hard for some people to deal with that BAL 40 and BAL Flame Zone.

And also councils when they let, you know, people rebuild. But I don’t think that’s going to be the case. You know, Rosedale will still continue to re built, but they’ll have to have some pretty tough ones there.

But what I would say is that it is what it is, you know. Let’s … don’t try to duck and weave. And it’s when we duck and weave, that it ends poorly from a planning and a DA (Development Application) point of view, because they can see that you’re trying to avoid that.

And the council doesn’t want to, you know, sort of have a bar of that. They don’t want to have ownership in under-constructing or building in places that you probably shouldn’t build.

Don’t be fearful of it, get good advice, and then you know, and listen to that advice as well.

But don’t … I think soon as we start to avoid, then that’s when you start running into trouble. Or put it on the shelf … “Oh we’ll deal with that later”. That’s when it really hurts. Because then you have to retrofit. Or that design that you’ve had, that hasn’t taken into account is all of a sudden, you know, you begin to lose all your timber facade or your timber deck, it’s gone. So get in early.

[Amelia Lee]: And I think that’s the key thing, isn’t it that if you actually understand these assessments and rating up front early and can factor them into your design process, then it’s not a budget shock down the track. It’s actually creating a different strategy.

And I think that’s going to be key for rebuilding in a lot of these areas. That you’re not necessarily just replicating what you had before, but you’re actually using it as an opportunity to strategise something different.

And something that’s much more resilient.

Can you perhaps … just with the BAL 40 and the BAL Flame Zone (or BAL FZ) … could you just talk through some of the detail of what that can mean for the construction of a property?

And also I suppose other strategies that could come into play?

You touched on bunkers. I had heard that somebody was able to, in a recent project, they were able to include a bunker and that gave them some leeway in the construction of property itself.

How can BAL 40 and BAL Flame Zone be approached and what kind of strategies can you use to get good results in those kind of ratings of areas?

[Jeff Dau]: Well, I think the first thing is in BAL 40 and BAL Flame Zone is (having) absolutely no combustibles at all. So timber is off the shelf all together. That said, you can use products like Modwood for decking and any number of other products that are still reasonably visually appealing.

So that’s, I guess that’s the first thing. As I said, there’s more and more products that are becoming available. And then BAL Flame Zone it gets up there.

One of the recent changes has been the shutters. So in AS3959 if you can, and certainly in New South Wales, you can use shutters. So you can go for good traditional sort of window set, if it’s protected by the by an appropriately rated shutter.

So that opens up some opportunities. And I can hear people saying “Well, yeah, but shutters are ugly”. Yes, but there are ways of putting within the reveal. There’s … there are you know, there are design, there are techniques, there are ways to address that.

So there’s a little thing there, is the shutters, and that can also reduce the price, particularly if you’re in the BAL Flame Zone area. There is some benefit. So that’s BAL 40 and BAL Flame Zone.

Going on to the bunkers. Bunkers is an area of kind of new work. There’s only recently a standard that came in. At the moment, I can only speak to New South Wales. I know in Victoria where, from what I heard through the industries that where you were in Flame Zone, if you put in a bunker that was built to the standard, then you could possibly come down a BAL rating.

So that I think that they do … Again, I think there’ll be more …. there’ll be improvement here. New South Wales RFS (Rural Fire Service) are kind of not sold on it. They’re certainly not opposed to the idea, but from my understanding, it’s not going to get you any concessions.

That said that, you know, I think that personally, I think they’re a great idea. There was a client down in Smiths road down in the area adjacent to the ACT. Great, you know, quite an impressive story that the owner of that property had survived or … they had survived for 2003 bushfires, but their property didn’t. And rather than becoming fearful of it, and I think obviously this took some time, they moved out to the bush.

They were in a very bushfire prone area, but that didn’t let them … it didn’t put them off. They accepted the, you know, accepted the threat. And they put a bunker in, and they just they had everything in place. They knew that they were going to leave early.

But the fact that they did that … rather than I guess running away from this …. going, ‘you know what, for 10 years, this place is going to be beautiful every day of the week, you know, and we’re going to enjoy this.

But if the inevitable does happen at some stage, then we do have a plan B which was this bunker’. I was very impressed by that attitude. And I think that it was quite cheap too. I think it was between $10,000 and $15,000 and, you know, that’s a fantastic insurance policy.

And their road was about 20km out. It’s one way in, one way out. So it is a bushfire prone area, you know, and it also has many access issues there. So I think, again to the question, I think with bunkers, you will see more in this space.

And with a hope that, that they may, they may offer some concession to these BAL 40 / Flame Zone areas. And that’s where we hope. The RFSS are always sort of adjusting … so …

[Amelia Lee]: I think it’ll be interesting. It was a report that I read after the 2009 Victorian fires that had mentioned that, that that thing of somebody was then rebuilding and they were a BAL Flame Zone.

And they were told that they could spend $15,000 on installing a bunker to standard and then lower the house to BAL 40. And it was going to save them about $80,000 overall, because to make the house BAL Flame Zone was a significantly bigger investment than putting the bunker in and dropping it to BAL 40.

So it will be interesting to see if these strategies … there’s a lot of contention I hear around bunkers. But I think it’s because we have so many that are kind of just DIY built things that mould ridden, are not properly ventilated, are not actually fireproof at all and end up being traps for people.

So I think that actually to create some legislation around how they’re constructed and what they need to be, the standard that they need to be built with in order to be an offset measure could actually be a huge opportunity to have holistic kind of solutions to to dealing with construction in those areas. So it’ll be really interesting won’t it?

[Jeff Dau]: Yes, I think so. I think that’s the good that comes out of these not so good events, you know, is that there’s these improvements. So yeah, it would be good to see.

THIS IS PART 6 OF MY INTERVIEW WITH JEFF DAU, EMBER BUSHFIRE CONSULTING. WATCH OTHER PARTS HERE: PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4 | PART 5

This interview is part of our Rebuild + Build Better series.

Be sure to stay tuned as we share more information and expertise in helping you rebuild after bushfires, or build homes more resilient to climate conditions and in bushfire prone areas.

Resources mentioned in this video:

Get in touch with Jeff Dau, Ember Bushfire Consulting >>> https://www.bushfireassessor.com.au/Find a qualified bushfire consultant by searching for an accredited provider on the Fire Protection Association Australia website >>> http://www.fpaa.com.au/Get access to the Australian Standards AS3959 (instead of Hardcopy, change to PDF Download for 1 user to change the fee to FREE) >>> AS3959 IS HERE
The post Building in a Bushfire Prone Area: BAL Ratings BAL 40 and BAL FZ appeared first on Undercover Architect.

Tips on Building a Bushfire Resistant House

How do you build bushfire resistant houses in bushfire prone areas? And is building a bushfire resistant house worthwhile wherever you are?

Using a bushfire consultant is essential to improve the design of your bushfire resistant house, and your overall solution to site design and management.

And it is also worthwhile to understand what makes a home bushfire-resistant, so you can make informed decisions in any new build or renovation.

In this video, we talk about Jeff Dau’s recommendations for reviewing your project plans, and how distances to vegetation can help with building a bushfire resistant house in bushfire prone areas. We also talk about the overall bushfire standard of your build, and how sprinkler systems may factor into your choices as well.

In this interview, I speak with Jeff Dau from Ember Bushfire Consulting.

EMBER Bushfire Consulting is a team of qualified, accredited and experienced fire industry professionals.

Co-Founder, Jeff Dau, has had 28 years of experience as a professional in the fire services industry. For the past 12 years this has been in a range of fire safety fields including fire safety engineering, bushfire protection, building certification and regulation and urban planning.

So let’s dive in.

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

Amelia Lee + Jeff Dau (Ember Bushfire Consulting)

[Amelia Lee]: What’s been your thoughts in terms of looking at distances to vegetation in areas that might not have necessarily bushfire overlays now …

What is your recommendation to people about looking at distances to vegetation and things like that, and perhaps considering a different standard for their home?

[Jeff Dau]: So AS3959, rightly or wrongly, stops at 100 metres. So where it says that you are within 100 metres of this unmanaged or classified vegetation, then you adopt the standard. Beyond that, it says that effectively you’d be BAL Low.

It’s not saying that there’s no risk. It’s just saying that there’s a low risk and it doesn’t warrant anything else. And that was done for, for a number of reasons, obviously for the cost. But through the work that Justin Leonard (CSIRO) has done, we can see that property destruction can happen.

Certainly here in Duffy, it happened up to about 700 metres, where there was actual ember attack. Now, I’m not talking about spotfires. Spotfires are different things. We’re talking about that shower of embers. There is a good argument for due diligence and just for looking after the asset to provide ember protection.

I think ember protection, full stop, is just a really good thing to do for any Australian home. You’ve got some insulation benefits there. You’ve got the insect, you know, that keeps the critters out as well. That … generally the ember mesh is the, you know, the very rigid type. So you’ve got security benefits there as well. It just makes sense.

So I would suggest, even if you’re beyond that, it’s just … and you’ve got scope within your budget, then I would say go for a BAL 12.5. It’s just a really good fit for most Australian environments.

Even if you’re in the city and again, you’re within, you know, 300 to 500 metres of bushland. We’ve got plenty of it here in Canberra, I live very close to the Black Mountain, and it would be a very good fit for here. So those things are really good.

I just will pick up on a point as well. AS3959 is all about passive protection.

Now you mentioned over and over and above, or currently, things that aren’t captured by the minimum standard.

Sprinklers are starting to come … the design, the development, the standards are getting better for that. I’ve seen first-hand the benefit that they can have. They’re tricky because then you have to get the timing right. I think where you’ve got town water supplies, then it just makes sense.

And the sprinkler system not only applies to the, to the residence to the structure, but also this Asset Protection Zone. Let’s keep the Asset Protection Zone moist as well. So you’re using that to really bolster the Asset Protection Zone. So I saw a property where it just worked perfectly. And listening to some of the other practitioners in these most recent fires, there’s been many, many cases where sprinkler systems have been useful.

The critics of sprinkler systems would say, well, you’re going to have these high winds. It’s not going to really do exactly what it would do, which is what you’d see inside, you know, a building. It’s a very controlled environment.

Sprinklers work very well as a fire safety measure inside a building. It’s a bit more dynamic, obviously outside and bit harder to control … we’ve got water supplies … So it does have to be thought out but I think that’s where we’ll see some big improvements, is with sprinkler systems and things like bunkers as well.

[Amelia Lee]: Yes, the sprinkler systems is an interesting one, I was chatting about that with an architect who was involved in the recovery after the Victoria 2009 fires. And you know, he was involved in sort of the construction of temporary villages and things like that.

And he actually mentioned that he thought sprinklers would be a great solution. And at the moment, one of the challenges around them has been that a lot of them are manually operated.

So if you’ve had to evacuate your property, and you haven’t had the chance to turn them on prior … Or how they might be motorised as well, whether it’s with something that’s combustible, then that can be a challenge, too.

And so he was sort of looking for some type of solution that they use in commercial properties… where there’s a heat sensor that then fires off the sprinkler system … to be able to be implemented in residential properties.

I saw actually a blog of a house that had a sprinkler system on it in the Canberra region, that managed to survive the fires, but the sprinklers actually didn’t get activated because he had to evacuate the property prior.

The property still withstood the fires because of a range of other solutions that they’d activated. But that sprinkler one is an interesting one, isn’t it? Because you kind of feel well, at least it would give, you know, winds aside, all of those kinds of things, at least I would give the property an additional layer of protection …

[Jeff Dau]: Exactly. And I think there is a great benefit of it. There’s a lot of innovation that’s starting to occur, you know, particularly where you’ve got connection to, you know, to the, to the internet and what-not.

This is a fellow not far out of Goulbourn. He’s got systems that will actually trigger based on the FDI, but he’s got he’s also got remote trigger systems.

[Amelia Lee]: What’s the FDI?

[Jeff Dau]: The Fire Danger Index. So we were talking about this earlier. And what we tend to see is that the Fire Danger Index is also related to the fire danger rating. FDI 100 is obviously near the catastrophic end of things, severe kicks in about FDI 50.

Anyway, he’s got this system that will set up when the FDI reaches a certain number. It just comes on. So there’s much research that’s been done that indicates that we can get property loss FDI 40 and above Now, again, giving you the scale, it’s zero to 100. Today, it’s probably about FDI 15 – FDI 20 here in Canberra. But in the more elevated conditions, it gets right up to 100.

The point was, he had this sprinkler system set up, so that it just triggered when it got to within that range where you can get destructive fires and it just ran, it didn’t matter. And obviously, he had to top up his water supply or whatever. But it was on the go.

So the point is that, there’s many innovations, and we’re going to see more and more. And I think this is one of the positives to such events is that we see great innovation. We see great ideas coming forward. And I would suspect that we’ll see more, and demand as well, as you said. Let’s not just go for the baseline. Give me more. Give me more and it’s out there. Yes.

[Amelia Lee]: I think that’s fantastic. And it is, it’s really exciting as we start to see how much more automation we can put into our homes, and the things that we can access remotely. To be able to protect yourself, your family, you know, take what you can and then trust the care of your property to the systems that you’ve put in place, the protection mechanisms that you’ve created around the property and the access that you provide the RFS to it … you know, then I think that they’re much, they’re much better solutions than you standing there.

There were so many stories of people staying to defend their properties and putting their own lives in huge amounts of risk as a result. And you can understand, you know, when you’ve lived in a home and you’ve got not only a financial investment there, but a significant emotional attachment, why people stay. And some people, they just left it too late.

So it’s yes, it’s … I think it would be fantastic to see these innovations come through that enable us to manage risk around people needing to stay and take care of their properties. And instead being able to leave.

And the challenging thing is that a lot of the properties that are in these areas that were affected were built prior to any of this legislation coming in. So that I feel like there’s going to be this great big kind of shift as all of construction kind of catches up with the current legislation and then as a kind of community, and a population, we’re perhaps in a better position to manage these types of situations in the future.

THIS IS PART 5 OF MY INTERVIEW WITH JEFF DAU, EMBER BUSHFIRE CONSULTING. WATCH OTHER PARTS HERE: PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4

This interview is part of our Rebuild + Build Better series.

Be sure to stay tuned as we share more information and expertise in helping you rebuild after bushfires, or build homes more resilient to climate conditions and in bushfire prone areas.

Resources mentioned in this video:

Get in touch with Jeff Dau, Ember Bushfire Consulting >>> https://www.bushfireassessor.com.au/Find a qualified bushfire consultant by searching for an accredited provider on the Fire Protection Association Australia website >>> http://www.fpaa.com.au/Get access to the Australian Standards AS3959 (instead of Hardcopy, change to PDF Download for 1 user to change the fee to FREE) >>> AS3959 IS HERE
The post Tips on Building a Bushfire Resistant House appeared first on Undercover Architect.

Bushfire Building Standards | BAL Ratings and AS395

Bushfire building standards and codes: What do you need to know about BAL Ratings and AS3959?

When you first discover your property has a bushfire overlay, or is bushfire prone, the various building standards and codes can become overwhelming.

How do the Bushfire building standards and codes relate to each other? And what do BAL Ratings and AS3959 mean for your future home?

And how do ember attacks and the rate of bushfire spread need to be factored into your design approach for a new home or renovation in a bushfire prone area?

In this interview, I speak with Jeff Dau from Ember Bushfire Consulting.

EMBER Bushfire Consulting is a team of qualified, accredited and experienced fire industryprofessionals.

Co-Founder, Jeff Dau, has had 28 years of experience as a professional in the fire services industry. For the past 12 years this has been in a range of fire safety fields including fire safety engineering, bushfire protection, building certification and regulation and urban planning.

So let’s dive in.

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

Amelia Lee + Jeff Dau (Ember Bushfire Consulting)

[Amelia Lee]: We’ve got the BAL rating, so the Bushfire Attack Level. We’ve also got the Australian Standard AS3959. How do those two things factor into each other and talk to each other as part of your creating solution in a bushfire prone area?

[Jeff Dau]: Okay. So the BAL rating is a product of Australian Standard 3959 Construction of Buildings in Bushfire Prone Areas. AS3959 is a methodology to conduct a site assessment, first off. So it’s broken into two parts.

The first part is how you would actually conduct a site assessment. It’ll help you classify the vegetations or talk about slope. It’ll talk about setback distances and how you measure that. That’s the first thing.

So it gives you this methodology on how to come up with this, the BAL level. Once we’ve established what the BAL Level is, then we have the BAL rating, then we have a prescription on how to actually then build a house that’s either BAL 12.5, 19, 29, 40, Flame Zone.

So there’s the six settings, there’s also BAL Low. So two parts: how to assess it, and then how do we then construct to that level. So that’s the first point.

And it’s very, very descriptive. It’s very clear. There is a bit of detail in there but if you’ve come up with your BAL 12.5, then you can go to the relevant chapter.

It will tell you what your expectations are for your glazing. What the roof system needs to be. What materials you can use for the facade, and about the decking. It’s really quite comprehensive.

And so that’s how it works, the methodology and then the recipe on how to put a structure together that will match or meet that fire intensity.

So … I hope that explains it.

[Amelia Lee]: Yes, fantastic. I think it’s hard because because the Australian Standards, ofcourse, are paid documents. So you see this number crop up as a homeowner. And yes …

[Jeff Dau]: So the good news here is that Standards Australia are releasing AS3959 for free. Yes, it’s very good. Just to have as it as a reference.

So they’re all obviously acknowledging that, and it’s giving that you know, the whole community a chance to have a look at it. And I’d encourage anyone who’s, you know, obviously very interested … the homeowner is very interested in the parts … it’s not that difficult to go through.

But again, a good bushfire practitioner will guide you through that process and material selection as well.

[Amelia Lee]: That’s brilliant. Thanks, Jeff, I have to find a link to that and pop that in the resources.

Now with these bushfires, we saw a rate of spread, and we saw ember attacks, I suppose in ways that people hadn’t necessarily experienced before.

Can we talk through … you mentioned some of the research that Justin Leonard at the CSIRO has been doing … just in terms of what the impact might be for rebuilding in some of these areas and understanding how to build more resiliently around dealing with that right of spread and those ember attacks.

[Jeff Dau]: So what I might do, is I’ll connect the construction with those BAL levels.

So at BAL 12.5 and BAL 19, we’re predominantly looking at ember attack. There’s a bit of a radiant heat there … and I sort of missed that point is that the BAL rating is a measure of radiant heat flux in kilowatts per square metre, which is just basically … to give you an idea, five kilowatts per square metre is, you know, a human can withstand it for a very short period of time. 10 kilowatts/m2 a firefighter in full PPE can withstand that for a very short period of time. Beyond that, then it escalates. So at 29 kilowatts/m2 and above, we have unpiloted ignition of timber. So it means, just through radiant heat alone, you’ll get something that will combust.

So, how that then ties in, is that BAL 12.5 and BAL 19 are predominantly to deal with ember attack so we’re screening windows etc. So at those lower levels that’s the expectation, that the new dwelling would have good ember protection.

There will be some other parts … obviously largely non combustible. Although there area number of timbers that can be used at that level.

At BAL 29 very select few timbers but we’re now starting to see that radiant heat. So as I said, a bushfire will pull apart a structure through the ember attack, through radiant heat, and then through flame contact.

So at BAL 29 and BAL which is the dominant factor there. And then above BAL 40, we’re starting to actually get flame impingement. So we’re getting … the structure is immersed in flame. And obviously, that’s the highest level.

So I think, to answer the question, a lot of these places may come into higher ratings and that’s obviously going to prescribe those higher, those higher levels. There’s a cost associated with that.

And this will be a challenging time for councils, for homeowners. So where once was … and I’m probably speaking of somewhere like Rosedale … there was the beautiful, beach shack that was made out of, you know, some sort of fibro … they find the site now is a BAL 40 or Flame Zone.

And then obviously, there’s going to be a decision point there. And I don’t … the the story from 2009 was that some some sites, you know, not many, but some sites were verydifficult to rebuild. But yes, that will be the challenge.

I think the good news here is that, because this has been underway for quite some time, or you know, AS3959 has been around for some time, there are more products that are available.

The price is coming down, it’s more achievable. People understand the standard. And yes, it’s becoming more and more doable at higher end. But at the lower end, it’s pretty straightforward.

I think, the numbers that are thrown around in terms of cost, is that for, you know, BAL 12.5, BAL 19 ember proofing … the glazing is minimal. Looking at about $10,000 – $15,000 on top of a, you know, very standard build.

So I hope that’s answered the question. But that would be the expectation there.

[Amelia Lee]: Yes, I think that it’s really interesting to see … you know, before you and I, in our correspondence before we jumped on this interview, we were talking about how the Australian Standards for construction … and this is the standards in most places around the world … they’re the minimum that construction needs to adhere to. They’re not the gold standard. They’re not the best performance standard. They’re the bare minimum of what a home needs to, to be, obviously, a shelter.

And it’s really interesting to see homeowners becoming more and more informed about the need to actually exceed standards in order to have a functioning, performing, durable, long lasting home, that is comfortable and is going to last them for the decades that they want it to.

So I’m seeing homeowners actually desiring to build beyond their standards, because they understand that. And many feel that we’re on the cusp of a realisation that these standards need to shift. And there’s obviously pushback in other parts of the industry that makes that a little bit slow to happen.

But it’s quite interesting to see how much this has been led by consumers saying, “look, no, actually, I want something better for my home. I want to protect myself and my family and my asset. And I want to understand what’s involved in that”.

THIS IS PART 4 OF MY INTERVIEW WITH JEFF DAU, EMBER BUSHFIRE CONSULTING. WATCH PART 1 HERE and PART 2 HERE and PART 3 HERE.

This interview is part of our Rebuild + Build Better series.

Be sure to stay tuned as we share more information and expertise in helping you rebuild after bushfires, or build homes more resilient to climate conditions and in bushfire prone areas.

Resources mentioned in this video:

Get in touch with Jeff Dau, Ember Bushfire Consulting >>> https://www.bushfireassessor.com.au/Find a qualified bushfire consultant by searching for an accredited provider on the Fire Protection Association Australia website >>> http://www.fpaa.com.au/Get access to the Australian Standards AS3959 at no charge for a limited time (instead of Hardcopy, change to PDF Download for 1 user to change the fee to FREE) >>> AS3959 PDF STANDARD
The post Bushfire Building Standards | BAL Ratings and AS395 appeared first on Undercover Architect.

What is an Asset Protection Zone (or APZ)?

You may have heard of the term ‘Asset Protection Zone’ if you’re planning to build in a bushfire prone area. What is it, and why is it important?

And how can an Asset Protection Zone (APZ) impact your BAL rating and bushfire strategy overall?

Watch this video, as Jeff Dau explains what an Asset Protection Zone is, and how to integrate it into an overall approach for your bushfire resistant home design.

In this interview, I speak with Jeff Dau from Ember Bushfire Consulting.

EMBER Bushfire Consulting is a team of qualified, accredited and experienced fire industryprofessionals.

Co-Founder, Jeff Dau, has had 28 years of experience as a professional in the fire services industry. For the past 12 years this has been in a range of fire safety fields including fire safety engineering, bushfire protection, building certification and regulation and urban planning.

So let’s dive in.

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

Amelia Lee + Jeff Dau (Ember Bushfire Consulting)

[Amelia Lee]: Can you just take a moment to talk through that Asset Protection Zone in a bit more detail?

And also, you know, is this as simple as somebody going well, “fine, I’ll just clear you know, 100m diameter around my property and fell all my trees, and then fix it like that”. How do these kinds of things come into play in terms of solutions, I suppose, to these challenges?

[Jeff Dau]: Yes, and I’ll pick up that point, I guess, that again, very much is the domain in thebushfire practitioner. The very simple structure that’s, you know, on a nice open grassland setting, very easy for the, you know, or relatively easy for the homeowner to come up with a BAL rating or for council.

These more complex topographies, vegetation types, settings where you know maybe that the house is a kilometre or two kilometres in, on one way in one way out. Then the RFS (Rural Fire Service) are certainly looking at not just a BAL Rating, but an extended APZ.

So it’s a very complex sort of solution to the problem. So I’ll just add that point there … that it would be nice if they were all simple, but they can quite often be complex.

So if the BAL rating is reflective of the setback to the unmanaged vegetation, the APZ. The Asset Protection Zone is the landscape, is the garden, is the setback between the building face and that line, that defined line of unmanaged vegetation, that gives us the BAL rating.

So the two are totally complimentary. They have to work together. And obviously as we push those back. It’s not also … it doesn’t necessarily need to be an exercise of clear felling everything around there.

Again, we’re trying to get balance. In fact, some vegetation, if it’s clumped, is really good, is a good thing. It’s a radiant heat shield, it catches embers, and obviously they’ll make it into landscape design of different spaces, etc, etc.

Anyway, staying to the point, the Asset Protection Zone is this magical area, that stands between the property, the structure and the unmanaged vegetation. That could still be grassland or it could be woodland, or it could be forest. It’s this very defined area. And it’s an area of, again, very specific and ongoing landscape management and maintenance.

And that’s the beauty of it, I think is with the APZ, then you go “right, I’ve got 20 metres, I’m doing everything within that much less about what’s happening beyond it and I’m just going tofocus on this very specific space”. And then the level of construction is going to complement that.

Just going back quickly, the Asset Protection Zone is probably the number one. Construction is obviously very important here.

But, in all the research, is that the APZ edge is the primary … the further you can get setback or the more well-managed you can have this space, the more likelihood that you’re going to have success in structure survival.

And often you’ll see after these big events, you’ll see the classic photo of a house … that, you know, withstood a significant fires. It’s burned all around but then you’ve got this cleared space.

So that’s what an Asset Protection Zone is. And I guess you know, we choose to live in the bushland setting. And to clear fell it for 100 metres, if you do,you know, clear fell it or if you managed out to 100 meters and achieved a very low BAL Rating, that’s kind of not the, that’s not balanced for me. It’s, you know, it’s keeping it, you know, to up the construction and then, you know, limit the amount of damage that you have.

And I think the other practical part of that is that if you try then … you’ve established your 100m Asset Protection Zone, you’ve gone overboard. Then you’ve got to maintain that 100 metres to the north, to the south, to the east, to the west. So it’s not really not a practical solution. Sounds good. It’s going save you some money (in construction possibly), but it’s going to be …

[Amelia Lee]: You’ll be spending your weekend on a ride-on mower!

[Jeff Dau]: Exactly, exactly. I hope that answered the question. That’s the relationship there.But very important. I think people get lost in that idea … ‘oh it’s an APZ’. And it’s really, really important and it complements it works in unison with whatever the construction is, you’ve adopted … your BAL29, your BAL19. The two have to work together.

As soon as your APZ deteriorates then that BAL Rating doesn’t really mean much. anymore. So it’s very important. And it’s, it’s ongoing.

[Amelia Lee]: I think it’s it for me, it’s really demonstrating how essential the expertise of this type of consultant or practitioner is to creating a holistic solution for a property that has this kind of overlay on it.

Because what it gives you the opportunity to do is always think about the totality of your site, and not just think about, you know, ‘okay, let’s build this house as a fireproof bunker, and just accept the fact that fire is going to rage towards us’. And that’s just what is going to happen. But instead, let’s think about how do we manage the whole environment of where we live, so that we can build resiliency around. And our ability to protect at a distance as well. So that, we’ve got, we’ve got those things working in combination together.

And I think to get that expertise, as part of your design solution becomes really powerful then in you also then becoming the custodian of that in your property, you know, over time living in it. So you understand then, okay, this is how, should we be threatened by fire, we can expect it to perform. And this is what we’ve done to safeguard our home and our land against it. And this is what we’ve done.And we know … I mean, it was really fascinating for me when we were, when we had fires nearby. And you just saw the community rally together. Signs going out the front to say, ‘Yep, there’s a pool here with static water supply’.

All of those kinds of things, that you see the importance of a community response to protecting a community. And I think that when there’s this approach to understanding that Asset Protection Zone and you can imagine a whole string of properties doing that together, just what a difference that makes to the RFS’s ability to fight fire in your region, for you to protect your property.

You know, I just think that yes, it just, to me, it just that level of expertise in your design process seems essential to me.

[Jeff Dau]: Yes, thank you. And if I can, if I can add to that as well and that the flow on there as well is that if you’ve got this really well maintained Asset Protection Zone, then it’s inviting the RFS, if you don’t happen to be there. And obviously we always advocate that leave early, that is always the best option. But if you’ve done these things, then you really set your structure, your home, very well up for survival.

But it also invites the RFS to have a go, because if you didn’t have these really good Asset Protection Zones, you had vegetation close up to the structure, they’ll do a triage and they’ll say, ‘We’re not going. It’s game over.’

So by doing that thing, there’s a whole bunch of knock-on effects … really positive knock oneffects.

THIS IS PART 3 OF MY INTERVIEW WITH JEFF DAU, EMBER BUSHFIRE CONSULTING. WATCH PART 1 HERE and PART 2 HERE.

This interview is part of our Rebuild + Build Better series.

Be sure to stay tuned as we share more information and expertise in helping you rebuild after bushfires, or build homes more resilient to climate conditions and in bushfire prone areas.

Resources mentioned in this video:

Get in touch with Jeff Dau, Ember Bushfire Consulting >>> https://www.bushfireassessor.com.au/Find a qualified bushfire consultant by searching for an accredited provider on the Fire Protection Association Australia website >>> http://www.fpaa.com.au/For a limited time, you can access AS3959 at no charge. Head to the SAI website and choose PDF 1 user version – you’ll see the cost go to FREE.
The post What is an Asset Protection Zone (or APZ)? appeared first on Undercover Architect.

How to work with a bushfire consultant | BAL Ratings and what to know

How do you work with a bushfire consultant? And how can they help you understand BAL Ratings and their impact on your property?

A bushfire consultant can be an incredibly useful consultant when building or renovating in a bushfire prone area.

If you’ve learned you have a bushfire overlay on your property, or you’re in a bushfire zone, watch this video to learn how to work with a bushfire consultant, and how your BAL Rating is calculated.

In this interview, I speak with Jeff Dau from Ember Bushfire Consulting.

EMBER Bushfire Consulting is a team of qualified, accredited and experienced fire industry professionals.

Co-Founder, Jeff Dau, has had 28 years of experience as a professional in the fire services industry. For the past 12 years this has been in a range of fire safety fields including fire safety engineering, bushfire protection, building certification and regulation and urban planning.

So let’s dive in.

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

Amelia Lee + Jeff Dau (Ember Bushfire Consulting)

[Amelia Lee]: Now, if you’ve got this bushfire overlay on your property, so you need to then obviously involve a bushfire consultant. What does that look like?

I’ve had homeowners who have had different experiences based on where they’re located. Sometimes they can get some information from council about what that might mean in terms of the bushfire attack level rating that they can … that they have to build to.

Sometimes they’re in the dark about that, and they’ve got to hire the bushfire consultant and they get frustrated that they’re having to outlay fees for, kind of, what feels like they’re batting at shadows.

How do you advise clients and potential clients through that process and understanding what a BAL rating is and what a BAL rating might mean for their property?

[Jeff Dau]: Yes, certainly. So I guess that’s that’s one part and that’s what I would hope a good bushfire planning practitioner brings to it … is to also guide you through.

So it’s not just to provide the BAL Certificate, it’s also to guide you through this process, because it very much is a holistic process. It’s the construction elements, just one part of it, but to guide you. And also to provide some sort of background as to why this is happening and what the intent is.

So the way that the New South Wales system is set up is that you could do that yourself, and I still think that’s still in play, is that you can still do your self assessments.

Council can obviously help that but because there are technicalities and because there are interpretations, that I guess is the role of the bushfire planning practitioner … is to, one, do the assessment the way that it was meant to be done. And also advise you.

So it’s all about location in terms of …we could be down to metres here… to where you are on your lot, and the most ideal spot. So that’s, that’s the role.

So, sorry if I’m moving around a bit, but the idea is that you get to the bushfire practitioner early in the piece … from the outset. Unfortunately, all too often it’s towards the end, when everything’s locked down and then if it does become very problematic.

So we’re doing an initial assessment to find out what the threat level is to the dwelling, and then we can guide you through there. Maybe recommend a slightly different location, or if it’s very much fixed, then then guide you through those next processes and then talk about design, materials, etc.

[Amelia Lee]: That’s the thing that I see too, Jeff, is that problem of people, particularly in some of those more regional or rural areas, they might find … they might see this overlay on their property and not worry about it too much or they might even not know that it’s there.

They then go through figuring out their design. They get to the point of hiring a builder. And the builder then does some due diligence and finds out that there’s this bushfire overlay.

But the design is already done and drawn, and engineering is all done. And then there’s this kind of whole process of “Oh, hang on, no, we’ve got to actually make this compliant with a BAL rating and with the National Construction Code”. And it’s, it’s a very challenging thing to find out at that point, because there are cost impacts. And there’s legislative impacts, of course, around that rating, isn’t there?

So I’m always encouraging homeowners to find out their Council information very early in their project before they sort of start thinking about how they might be renovating or extending or where they might be building.

Because it can be one of these things that if you do build in a different location on your site, if you’ve got that opportunity to do that, you can actually have some scope then to have a bit of flexibility around that.

Can you talk through perhaps, so that people can understand a bit more about how the BAL rating works.

What kinds of things are you actually assessing when you come to look at a property and determine what the BAL rating might be and how that might change across, if it’s a larger property, how that might be impacted by the various components that you’re looking at that contribute to that assessment?

[Jeff Dau]: Sure. So it’s largely an interpretation of the landscape. And that’s, I think that’s the first thing that we have a look at. We’re looking at the available setbacks that we can get.

So it’s the distance from this area that we’re going to call the unmanaged vegetation. And in between the structure and the unmanaged vegetation is the Asset Protection Zone (APZ), which we’ll probably get onto a little bit later on.

It’s an interpretation of the landscape in terms of the vegetation classification, the slopes that are affecting it. And that can be complex too, because it’s not just dropping away at a nice steady state. It might drop away, it might come back up again, that’s over a set distance.

And again, I think that’s what the value of a bushfire practitioner is about. They have that interpretation. And also the experiences and how that works. So slope, vegetation and available setbacks.

And now we have things like the biodiversity offsets, where we really do have to work very carefully in getting this Asset Protection Zone, the APZ correct. It’s not too big. It’s not too small, because if it’s too small, then obviously the BAL rating goes up.

And then as I mentioned earlier, it’s also say, hey look, this is probably going to be tricky here. Maybe there’s a suggestion or that we can go to a different site. So they’re the elements.

We also obviously have the underlying Fire Danger Index, which is a measure of the intensity of fire. Or if I can use the word, the ‘design fire’ that we’re dealing with. And that’s really important to understand as well.

We’re not talking about … it’s a nice 22 degree day here in Canberra. We’re not talking about a fire on today. We’re talking about what the really upper reaches of it. And the common analogy is that it’s like a flood zone … if it’s a 1 in 100 year flood. Well, this is, you know, in most parts is about a 1 in 50 years fire. And that’s what you’re designing to. That’s the measure. That’s the BAL rating.

[Amelia Lee]: Gotcha. So there’s that Fire Danger Index, the vegetation, the slope.

How does the slope impact the property’s … I suppose … how prone it is to bushfire travelling towards it?

For the uninitiated, what can slope and topography do in terms of the performance of a fire around a property.

[Jeff Dau]: So where the slope will drop away, so we have downslope away from from the asset, from the residence, then we have an increased level of travel. So with every degree (of slope), we get increased rate of spread, and we get an increase in intensity.

So where, for example, and these are just rough numbers, where you might be able to cope with a 15 metre sort of setback on flat ground. As soon as we take that, you know, 10 degrees or 15 degrees or beyond, then we’re going to need a 40 or 50 metre setback.

So the slope actually is a really, really big driver in terms of fire intensity. Where it goes upslopes, then for all intents and purposes, that’s still measured as flat.

So slope is big and that’s what the planning the outcome here is that RFS … and RFS (Rural Fire Sevice) obviously came up with the main document here that we’re referring to … planning for bushfire protection, and AS3959 Construction of Buildings in Bushfire Prone Areas.

We’re trying to get you away from these spots that would, maybe might be on the ridge … on the ridge tops or high views because you’re going to have these steep slopes. They’re unfortunately also the most beautiful spot as well.

So here we are back into balance, you know, but if you select these spots that are steep. They’re on top of hills. They’re surrounded by forest, then the BAL rating is going to be quite high, you know. Or there’s going to have to be a large quantity of vegetation that’s going to have to be managed or

[Amelia Lee]: Gotcha. We’re on the top of a hill. So the view is great, but I’m very conscious of the fact that fire can travel very quickly up hills. And when you’re on top of a hill, there’s usually only a couple of ways out as well.

[Jeff Dau]: Exactly. A number of complicating factors.

[Amelia Lee]: Now, you mentioned the RFS, so that’s the Rural Fire Service. They’re the ones that have actually, you know … these BAL Ratings were something that were coming into play, from what I understand, were coming into play in the mid to late 2000s.

And then the Victorian fires actually accelerated their, I suppose, their introduction into full legislation. So a lot of people may see them as a reaction to the 2009 fires, but from what I understand they were already in train at that time, and it just accelerated their introduction. Is that the case?

[Jeff Dau]: Yes. Very much. And my words to my clients is that every time that we have these significant events, they do learn from these and then they feed into planning and regulations and standards. What works, what doesn’t work. Certainly the previous standard, so there was the 2009 standard, which is only just now been updated to 2018. It’s been around for at least 20, possibly 30 years.

And we’ve known for quite some time what you can do to a residence, to a structure, to make it more resilient. And they’re slowly getting better and better. And again, no doubt from the fire, the fire season that we’ve just had, we’ll see further improvements. Although it’s pretty solid now, it’s quite good.

So that’s the national standard that would apply in all jurisdictions. And then within the jurisdictions, New South Wales, they’ll have their own planning document.

Again, I think obviously today’s conversation is about design, construction of residences. But there’s a holistic approach to this.

We need to consider access. We need to consider water supplies. We need to consider landscaping. Emergency plans. It’s this suite of bushfire protection measures, that as a whole work for life safety and for property protection.

It’s not just not just you know, the BAL rating, also the construction without those things. Also, an interesting point is that the things that feed into this, the development of these standards is a review.

So after every significant fire, CSIRO (I’ve mentioned in our correspondence earlier, Justin Leonard) does a lot of research and follow up work, to see how the standard actually copes.

And I know that in the 2017 fire that we had, there was a review there, and the structuresthat had been built to code, all of them had survived. So we had 10 structures that had been impacted. There’s many more that have been impacted, and there was property loss, but of the 10 that were built to spec, 100% had survived.

But again, I’ll go back to it. It’s not just the construction, it’s been a number of other elements … the landscaping … the two have to work together in terms of the way that landscape’s managed in and around the house.

I think in Tathra, the success rate was 80%. So there’s, there’s good things that are happening there. But there’s, you know, obviously always improvements that can be made.

[Amelia Lee]: I think that’s a really good point, that it is this holistic kind of view and it’s why the assessment is actually such a valuable process to see. Because I think that when you, as a homeowner, you get this BAL rating and you see it for the first time. And you see, okay, it goes through, you know, BAL 12.5, then BAL 29, BAL at these numbers and these kind of weird acronyms and wonder, “Well, okay, how much extra is this going to cost me”.

And then you say, a whole … generally, the easiest information to access (online) is that means you’ve got to build out of these materials, you’ve got to have fire shutters, you’ve got to … that’s the most straightforward stuff that you can say online.

But then what you can’t see is the impact that some other decisions can have around how you treat your whole property. Particularly if you are in one of these regional locations, where you do have a bit more land to play with. And you can start implementing management strategies, and an understanding of your landscape, to create that holistic response. Where you’re where you’re dealing with that kind of Asset Protection Zone and the landscape management generally.

THIS IS PART 2 OF MY INTERVIEW WITH JEFF DAU, EMBER BUSHFIRE CONSULTING. WATCH PART 1 HERE.

This interview is part of our Rebuild + Build Better series.

Be sure to stay tuned as we share more information and expertise in helping you rebuild after bushfires, or build homes more resilient to climate conditions and in bushfire prone areas.

Resources mentioned in this video:

Get in touch with Jeff Dau, Ember Bushfire Consulting >>> https://www.bushfireassessor.com.au/Find a qualified bushfire consultant by searching for an accredited provider on the Fire Protection Association Australia website >>> http://www.fpaa.com.au/
The post How to work with a bushfire consultant | BAL Ratings and what to know appeared first on Undercover Architect.

Bushfire Consultant: When and why do you need one?

Why do you need a bushfire consultant? When does a bushfire consultant get involved in a renovation or new build project?

A bushfire consultant is a specific type of professional and an essential team member on specific projects.

Meet Jeff Dau from Ember Bushfire Consulting to learn more about whether your project needs this type of professional.

In this interview, I speak with Jeff Dau from Ember Bushfire Consulting.

EMBER Bushfire Consulting is a team of qualified, accredited and experienced fire industry professionals.

Co-Founder, Jeff Dau, has had 28 years of experience as a professional in the fire services industry. For the past 12 years this has been in a range of fire safety fields including fire safety engineering, bushfire protection, building certification and regulation and urban planning.

So let’s dive in.

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

Amelia Lee + Jeff Dau (Ember Bushfire Consulting)

[Amelia Lee]: Jeff, it’s fantastic to have you here. I’m really looking forward to being able to talk with you about this (your area of expertise) because it is something that can be quite bamboozling to homeowners who find out that they’ve got bushfires owning or some type of, I suppose overlay on their property that they have to then create a building solution for.

And so I think you’re going to be able to provide a huge amount of knowledge and information for people to kind of clarify that process for them a lot more effectively.

Can you first tell us how you actually got into this line of work in terms of bushfire assessments and bushfire consultancy?

[Jeff Dau]: Yeah. So it’s, it’s been the combination of a lot of things. My grounding is as a professional firefighter, that’s the basis. And I started that when I was 20. I love the bush and studied environmental science, and that led to bushfire … it’s allowed me to bring two things together, which I have loved.

I think probably the third thing that occurred was in 2003. We had the bushfires, obviously hit here in Canberra, and really wanted to do something different in terms of the way that we could really address the issue and clearly, fire suppression.

You know, firetrucks are only part of the answer, but to design and to build and to truly understand our environment is kind of what led me to this point where I again, I can bring this experience and the knowledge together to help out homeowners and architects and design and build for bushfire.

[Amelia Lee]: Yes, what I love is that you’ve got this beautiful diversity of experience and knowledge that just comes in from so many different dimensions, to actually give such a comprehensive understanding to what you’re dealing with in terms of the advice that you’re giving around bushfire and building better for resilience around bushfires and performance in those kinds of environments.

So I’m just so excited to be sharing you with the UA Community because I know that your knowledge is going to be incredibly helpful to them.

Can you perhaps just go through some basics for us first. In terms of logistics … I know a lot of people when they find out they’ve got that bushfire overlay, or they’ve bushfire zoning on their property with their early inquiries, and they don’t even know what a bushfire consultant is or why they might need one.

Can you tell us when and why bushfire consultant comes into play in a renovation or building project?

[Jeff Dau]: I guess I’ll step back just quickly. My area of practice is New South Wales so I’ll speak to the New South Wales system.

There are similar systems in Victoria and perhaps where your other listeners are. But certainly the very first trigger is this overlay that you speak of. In New South Wales it’s bushfire prone land that has been declared by the local council.

And that’s a trigger. It’s a red flag. And it’ll be different from Council to Council. So the local, one of the local councils here, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council, largely about 90% of it is bushfire prone.

So when someone’s looking to develop their … whether it’s additions or alterations, or it’s a new dwelling, or it’s a greenfield site … the very first question is, is it bushfire prone (amongst other things), but bushfire prone then triggers that need to do an assessment.

So that’s that’s the first point. It’s just a simple yes or no. And if you’re fortunate enough to not be in a bush prone area, then there’s no further consideration at all.

But it’s worthwhile keeping in mind that the mapping changes, I know that local Goulbourn-Mulwary recently updated their bushfire prone map. So while you are not in a bushfire prone area at the moment that could well change, I’m sure post this season, we might see that in some councils.

[Amelia Lee]: Yes, definitely. I think there’s going to be quite an overhaul of all of that process because it was such a surprise to see some of the areas that were threatened by bushfires.

THIS IS PART 1 OF MY INTERVIEW WITH JEFF DAU, EMBER BUSHFIRE CONSULTING.

This interview is part of our Rebuild + Build Better series.

Be sure to stay tuned as we share more information and expertise in helping you rebuild after bushfires, or build homes more resilient to climate conditions and in bushfire prone areas.

Resources mentioned in this video:

Get in touch with Jeff Dau, Ember Bushfire Consulting >>> https://www.bushfireassessor.com.au/Find a qualified bushfire consultant by searching for an accredited provider on the Fire Protection Association Australia website >>> http://www.fpaa.com.au/
The post Bushfire Consultant: When and why do you need one? appeared first on Undercover Architect.

HOMEBUILDER | $25,000 Stimulus Package for Renovations and New Homes

The Australian Government has announced the “HOMEBUILDER” construction stimulus package of $25,000 for homeowners planning their renovation or new build.

Do you qualify for HomeBuilder?

The main details are:

it’s handled by the State Governmentsit’s means tested ($125K for singles, $200K for couples – and you have to submit FY18/19 tax returns to show)only owner-occupier, principal place of residence propertiesrenovations are $150K – $750K, for properties with valuations under $1.5Mnew builds are $750K for house and land (and it’s the current land valuation if you already own it)interestingly, a knock-down/rebuild qualifies as a ‘substantial renovation’applies to contracts signed between 4 June and 31 Dec and work has to commence on site within 3 months of contract dateno owner builders, and licensed builder can’t be a family memberrenovations have to improve the accessibility, safety and liveability of the dwelling. it cannot be for additions to the property such as swimming pools, tennis courts, outdoor spas and saunas, sheds or garages (unconnected to the property)it’s not taxableit can be combined with the First Home Buyer’s / Owner’s Grant and stamp duty concessions in your State, plus the Commonwealth’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme and First Home Super Saver Scheme

This scheme will be available to those renovating, buying a house-and-land package, building a new home on an existing site, and also buying an apartment off-the-plan.

However, what I’m seeing is that homeowners may meet certain criteria (timing and contract price), but then fall over on means testing or property valuation.

Especially if they’ve owned their land for a while, or are on larger rural or regional properties with lots of ‘land’ beyond the house site (and fail the $750,000 TOTAL valuation of house and land).

Strangely, if they are knocking down to rebuild a new home, that valuation limit increases to $1,500,000 (as a significant renovation).

And many say they didn’t plan to spend $150,000 on their renovation project (or wonder how you can afford to, and still sit under the means test criteria).

It’s only available to Australian citizens who are over 18 (there’s a few tax-paying, Australian resident Kiwis that have got in touch with me about this one).

I thought this was interesting (and I completely disagree with part of this statement) …

“HomeBuilder will help to support the 140,000 direct jobs and another 1,000,000 related jobs in the residential construction sector including businesses and sole-trader builders, contractors, property developers, construction materials manufacturers, engineers, designers and architects.” [SOURCE]

My take is that this incentive package (renovations aside) will most significantly help the volume builders / project home builders who have a business model that enables them to execute contracts on off-the-shelf designs, and can mobilise on site quickly within the small-window timeframe.

That model helps the volume builders, the supply chains of their trades / subbies / suppliers …. but doesn’t do much beyond that 6 month window in the industry at large.

You may, if building a custom home or doing a renovation, fortuitously have a window of opportunity to capitalise on this if:

+ your project is already underway in design

+ your designer can resolve things quickly

+ you can get your approvals quickly

+ you’ve done what you need to during the design phase to be sure you’re on budget so you can commit to a contract confidently

+ you can lock in a builder who can start before 31 March 2021

+ you meet all the means testing, project value and property valuation critera

I think, sadly, this scheme misses an opportunity to incentivise much needed sustainability improvements to existing housing.

The Australian Institute of Architects and other industry bodies put forward proposals of this nature. 

Given that the average new home has an energy efficiency star rating of 6.1 stars, but our existing homes average at 1.7 stars energy efficiency rating, you can imagine the impact of improving their energy efficiency with targeted renovations and improvements.

You’d help the industry, you provide growth opportunities in new, climate-friendly industries, you lower the energy drain on our infrastructure, and put money back into the hip pocket of homeowners through lowered energy bills. 

And of course, many are disappointed that social housing hasn’t been taken into account.

And if the aim was to stimulate the whole industry, I believe it’s missed the chance to help people get started on longer-tail projects.

Projects where the design process and council approvals may take 12 – 18 months to get through, but you’d see cash getting injected into the industry over the next 2 to 3 years, rather than the next 6 months only.

Linking it to building contracts, while easily traceable, means it actually incentivises the speedy COMPLETION of projects … not the intentional COMMENCEMENT of projects.

And whilst it helps builders, tradespeople and materials suppliers, there are a significant raft of additional consultants, professionals and providers who simply won’t factor in the workflow required to deliver to these deadlines.

They’ve cited the decline in building approvals as a reason for needing this … so I actually wish the scheme had been linked to those (or even council lodgements) as opposed to contract starts.

We run into dangerous territory where less scrupulous operators drive up prices as people push and race to get their contracts signed within the timeframe, and people making decisions in haste … which is never good when building and renovating.

And you’ll see huge pressure on the industry generally, as everyone races to meet the criteria of a site start before 31 March 2021 (that’s the last extent of work commencing 3 months from 31 December).

This scheme may actually end up hurting many homeowners who simply wanted to build or renovate, as the industry frantically deals with the fall-out of urgency to meet timelines and targets.

Volume builders will most likely woo the first home buyers in areas where a new house and land package is available for under $750,000.

However, the volume of work they do as a result will have an impact on supply chains, subcontractor availability and pricing across the industry.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say this:

Racing into your project, making mis-steps and hurrying through contracts, selections, drawings etc, can easily overspend $25,000 in variations down the track.

And the pressure that’s about to be put on the industry to deliver according to this timeframe, could easily see $$$ increases through the pipeline of manufacturers / suppliers / subcontractors and trades.

Do a jig if you’re about to sign a contract and meet all the criteria.

Otherwise, tread carefully. Stay informed and proactive.

If you haven’t started your project, and you were planning a renovation or a new, custom-designed home, I wouldn’t recommend using this as a reason to start (and race to the deadline).

You may meet the timelines in getting designs and approvals done within that period, however the kicker may be locking in a builder (with a signed contract) who can start before March 31, 2021 … or the privilege you pay in extra $$ to make that happen.

The State Governments will be processing the applications for these grants.

In addition, there’ll need to be some assessment to determine that renovations meet the eligibility criteria in improving ‘accessibility, safety and liveability of the dwelling’. I look forward to seeing what that is.

In the meantime, there is loads here on Undercover Architect to help you. Specific resources to check out:

This podcast will help you learn more about the contract process of signing with a builder (from a legal perspective) >>> INTERVIEW WITH LAWYER DESPINA PRIALA

Podcast Season 7 is all about the build process >>> START SEASON 7 HERE

And ‘Manage Your Build’ is my fantastic online program to assist with understanding the contruction phase, so you know what to anticipate, when to make decisions, and how to ensure you’re getting what you’re paying for >>> MANAGE YOUR BUILD ONLINE PROGRAM

We’ll continue to update this post as more information becomes available.

The Treasury has a range of scenarios and FAQs available on downloadable PDFs here: HOMEBUILDER

The post HOMEBUILDER | $25,000 Stimulus Package for Renovations and New Homes appeared first on Undercover Architect.

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