(02) 4577 4912
Unit 1, No.103 Railway Road (North) MULGRAVE NSW 2756
O'Mara Constructions has extensive experience designing & building new homes in high bushfire prone area's. Having lived in Hawkesbury all of our lives and with many of our sub-contractors we have experienced many bushfire's and seen the extent of fire on newly constructed homes & existing dwellings.
BAL RATINGS - WHAT DO THEY MEAN ?
As per AS3959 which is the Australian Standard for Construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas there are six categories of bushfire attack levels. They are;
BAL simply means "Bushfire attack level"
Flame zone is the highest level of attack and is usually when a site backs directly onto this bush, surrounded by bushland or at the top of a steep embankment. The BAL rating can be classified by self assessment or by a fire consultant but needs to be approved by council after consultation with the RFS (Rural Fire Service)
The categories of attack are determined by:
DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS FOR BUSHFIRE AFFECTED SITES
Homes that are designed in bushfire prone area's need special consideration in design of certain construction elements.
The main considerations are, but not limited to;
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EXTERNAL WALL CLADDING & STEEP SLOPING SITES
Many hopes built in bushfire affected area's are on sloping sites. This means standard slab on ground, brick veneer, tiled roof design, similar to many project homes simply don't work or any much too expensive and not practical.
There are numerous ways to design a home to suit the natural fall of the block in an economical way using specific materials that are lightweight but also bushfire proof.
There are numerous cladding products that are not suitable and need to be selected depending on the BAL rating. There are also numerous types of floor systems that can be used to reduce costs, take advantage of any possible views, make sub-floor storage possible and be fire safe.
We can also use a specialised block for high bushfire area's that will greatly assist in making the home safer. These are called "Timbercrete Blocks". They are available as bricks, blocks or panels in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, colours & textures. Timbercrete is a environmentally sensitive masonry block that is proudly Australian invented & owned.
Timbercrete is made from discarded timber (containing carbon) with other special additives moulded into blocks. They have great insulation when compared to normal brick veneer or clad homes. They are very easy to work with being lighter in weight than concrete blocks, look better and can be nailed and screwed just like timber. But there huge advantage is their improved fire rating when compared to other products. The standard 190mm block has a FRL240/240/240 which is excellent
It is a great product that we highly recommend and are happy to use on any of our projects. Please go to their website www.timbercrete.com.au for more information
"PASSIVE DESIGN" WAYS TO BUSHFIRE PROTECT YOUR HOME
There are numerous "passive" controls methods of protecting the home from bushfire.
Each project needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis but can include any or a combination of the following items to provide protection;
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PRACTICAL "ACTIVE" WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR HOME AGAINST BUSHFIRE
Other considerations need to be made for specific "active" control methods, such as;
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We also need to consider the materials used, the location of services, access to site, maintenance, just to name a few.We can design & construct a fire bunker. This is NOT design as a safe haven but more as a last option when escape is not possible
We can design & construct a fire sprinkler system with back-up hose reels supplied by a pool/tank/dam to protect the home to suit the site conditions and owner requirements More information can be found at the NSW rural fire service website;www.rfs.nsw.gov.au
We have current designs of homes that although can't guarantee complete bushfire protection they can at least be adapted to minimise all possible risks and increase the safety of the owner and their possessions to suit the conditions on site.
All our design will need to be viewed and approved by the RFS priory to any approval be ing granted by council or any work commencing on-site
FLAME ZONE (FZ) HIGH BUSHFIRE AREA'S
There are numerous special requirements for BAL bushfire rated homes whether being BAL 12.5/19/29/40
However FZ (Flame Zone) bushier rated homes have numerous very specific requirements that differ from other BAL ratings.
These can add a lot of cost to the construction of a home compared to other BAL ratings and can easily be an additional $100,000 to $200,000 or more, depending on the site conditions & RFS requirements
There are however ways to reduce these costs while maintaining the high bushfire protection required for FZ area's in a practical way.
Please contact our office for more information
FLAME ZONE (FZ) RATED WINDOW SHUTTERS
The rules for requirements for bushfire shutters in FZ areas have recently changed.
Where previously a standard type roller door could be used fire shutters now have to be FZ rated.
These shutters are much more detailed, more expensive and can be manually or electrically operated.
There are also rules on how they are to be operated to ensure safety of the home during a bushfire event.
Please contact our office for more information
A BUSHFIRE "PROOF" HOME
No one can (or at least should) guarantee that if you build a new home in a bushfire affected area that it will ever be "bushfire proof". Sometimes the fire is just too powerful & fast.
However there any many ways that you can increase your chances of protecting your home and make it alot safer. Some are expensive and are not negotiable by the RFS & council. There are however many small design changes & material specifications that can be made that don't cost a fortune and will increase the fire protection of your new home, extension or renovation.
Please contact our office for advice on how to improve the fire protection of your proposed new project.