Cost of building in a bushfire prone area

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1. Overview

This is general advice and may not apply specifically to your property. For more detailed information on your personal circumstances please contact the Rebuilding Planning Team on 9294 6594.

The Guide to retrofit your home for better protection from a bushfire(PDF, 3MB)  has lots of useful information including some of the information detailed on this page.

The cost of building bushfire protection measures will vary significantly depending on factors, such as:

  • The existing construction methods and materials used in the building
  • The age of the building
  • Access around the building and the height of the building above surrounding ground
  • Location and access to suitable tradespersons and material suppliers so that competitive pricing can be obtained
  • Whether any heritage or other controls apply to the building.

Owners are also cautioned that existing buildings may contain materials made from asbestos or have painted surfaces that contain lead. These materials should be handled in accordance with appropriate guidelines. Depending on the construction of your home, some retrofitting measures will be more or less expensive than others.

Here are some guidelines around cost (this is not a definitive list):

Low cost  Moderate cost   High Cost 

Sealing all small gaps around the
house with appropriate joining strips
or a flexible silicon based sealant

Installing shutters or metal flyscreens
to doors and windows to BAL 29
Replacing wall, fascia, roof or floor materials with non-combustible or
bushfire resistant materials

Installing sarking behind weatherboards
or other external cladding when they
are being replaced for maintenance or
other reasons

Application of product to timber to
increase its resistance to fire

 

Installing sarking behind
weatherboards or other external
cladding when they otherwise
would not have been replaced
Installing sarking beneath existing
roofing when it is being replaced for
maintenance or other reasons 
Installing a sprinkler system

 

Installing sarking beneath existing
roofing when it otherwise would not
have been replaced
Replacing or overcladding parts
of door frames less than 400mm
above the ground, decks and similar
elements or fittings with bushfire
resisting timber or metal etc.
Separate external structures within
six metres of the house with a 60/60/60 fire resistant wall

 

Replacing glass with toughened or laminated safety glass

 

Installing weather strips, draught
excluders or draught seals at the
base of side-hung doors
Replace decking with non-combustible material

 

Installing a private bushfire shelter

 

Sealing vents and weepholes in
external walls with mesh of corrosion resistant steel, bronze or aluminium
Replace external doors with non-
combustible or solid timber doors with  minimum thickness of 35mm 
Installing tested shutters or metal
flyscreens to doors and windows for
BAL 40 and FZ
Sealing around roofing and roof
penetrations
Enclose subfloor with non-combustible  material Replace overhead glazing with 'grade a' safety glass

 

2. Indicative rebuild costs for bushfire provisions

The Insurance Australia Group Ltd has advised the following potential additional rebuild costs according to BAL. As detailed in the Construction Requirement section, house design and construction vary according to the BAL.

Many homes destroyed or damaged during the June 21 storm predated current bushfire regulations. Therefore, if you live in a bushfire prone area it may now cost more to rebuild your home under the new Standards.

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The costs of demolition and clean up should be included in your sum insured, or the terms of your policy. It is important to consider these costs when deciding how much it will cost to rebuild after a bushfire. If a house is significantly damaged or destroyed, the average cost for debris removal is $46,000, if asbestos is found this can increase to an average of $68,000.* 

If asbestos is likely to be present on your property, a licensed asbestos removalist should be engaged to do the clean-up work. If you are insured, your home insurer may organise and assist in cleaning up, securing your home and removal of debris.

3. Tips to optimise cost savings and bushfire safety when rebuilding

Think about your site and what will work best for you. If possible, get your BAL assessment done so you know what your BAL rating is and then design your home to that.

Build what you need - and don't start with preconceived ideas of what your home should look like. Research and then integrate bushfire safety features into the daily life of the house, Minimise elevated verandahs or decks as this provides an area where embers can enter and most homes are destroyed by bushfire from embers.  

Plan to have all combustible items at least six metres from the main dwelling, this includes caravans, plastic water tanks, hosepipes, garden furniture, gas bottles and BBQs etc. Remember items like doormats and plant pots can ignite during a fire too.

Seal any gaps around your home with no gaps being more than 2mm while metal shutters on windows and doors add another layer of protection.

4. The rebuilding journey can be overwhelming

If you're finding the rebuilding journey overwhelming and need support, our Community Welllbeing pages have contact details for various agencies who can help with issues ranging from insurance and legal to mental health and financial counselling.