Bushfire and Building
New Building Standards
As a result of the 2009 bushfire, new building standards now apply to all new dwellings, residential buildings and alterations and additions in a designated bushfire prone area.
The new building regulations (Building Amendment (Bushfire Construction) Regulations 2011) give the Minister for Planning the authority to determine designated bushfire prone areas in Victoria for the purpose of the building control system.
The Minister for Planning has determined that most of the Yarra Ranges is a designated bushfire prone area and has prepared maps, which are available using the link on this page.
Landowners can also view a free on-line interactive map service on the Victorian Government Land Channel and obtain a property report by typing in their lot number or address, using the link on this page.
Designers need to make sure they follow the provisions of AS 3959.1 - Construction of Buildings in Bushfire Prone Areas in their designs.
The new building regulations require buildings that are to be built in a designated bushfire prone areas and where the bushfire attack level (BAL) for the site is determined as LOW to be constructed to comply with the requirements for a BAL of 12.5 under AS3959 Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas.
A guide to building in Victoria after the bushfire has been produced to help you understand the guidelines when you are building. You can also work out what specific construction and design requirements your new home might have by using the Bushfire Attack Level guide.
To view this information visit the Building Commission's website using the link on this page.
As the building code only requires the minimum level of protection you may want to look at incorporating additional measures into your new home.
Regulations for Private Bushfire Shelters (bushfire bunkers)
The Victorian Government has introduced new interim regulations for the construction of private bushfire shelters (bushfire bunkers).
If you are buying or constructing a bushfire shelter it must comply with the criteria set out in the regulations. You will also need a building permit and may need a planning permit.
You can find out more at the Building Commission's website or by calling them on 1300 360 320.
A guide to retrofit your home for better bushfire protection
Most residences in bushfire prone areas pre-date the AS 3959-2009 Regs. that require bushfire protection measures, meaning existing houses are unlikely to achieve the increased levels of bushfire protection delivered by the new Standard.
The Building Commission and Country Fire Authority (CFA) have joined together to provide advice to those who wish to upgrade their existing homes to be better protected from bushfires. The guide is divided into two parts; retrofit for generic ember protection and retrofit protection for various Bushfire Attack Levels (BAL), based upon the Standard.
Can I use my shed as a permanent dwelling?
Buildings such as sheds are not normally approved for use as homes or dwellings as they may not have been constructed to comply with the requirements of the Regulations for a residential dwelling. Following the 2009 bushfires, certain concessions for temporary accommodation in buildings on bushfire affected properties were introduced to the planning scheme. The following information on sheds (Class 10a building) and dwellings (Class 1a building) may assist you in considering your options carefully.
For more information contact us on 1300 368 or email