Resilient & sustainable design

House frame.JPG

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 6999.

Building design and resilience

When it comes to rebuilding your home, you may want to think about your site, the design of your home and the energy efficiency of it. New standards now require some of these aspects however you want to take this as an opportunity to think differently about your home.

House designs can be simple or complex, and all can be designed to be energy efficient and fire resilient. But there are benefits in adopting simple designs, thinking carefully about how and where windows and other glass are used, and making the most of your site’s natural advantages. 

Simple shapes are best as they allow the smoothest flow of wind over and around the house.

Try and minimise open, exposed gutters that retain leaf litter. Box gutters should also be avoided. Avoid putting features on roofs that can trap embers.

More tips for resilience include:

  • Building on a slab. If not, implement a fully enclosed underfloor
  • Using non-combustible facades, cladding, windows, doors
  • Locating windows up off the ground
  • Using paved areas rather than decks
  • Single story is preferable

Energy efficiency

Any new residential building will need to embrace energy efficiency in its design as a key requirement of the National Construction Code.

Energy-efficient designs are well insulated and assembled to minimise uncontrolled air leakage and they utilise natural airflow to moderate indoor temperatures. These solutions mean lower maintenance and higher bushfire resilience.

Ideally houses should be sited away from vegetation and be oriented on a block to face North to make to most of good natural lighting and solar energy for winter warmth.

Building location

Siting a building or settlement away from the bushfire hazard is the most effective way to minimise bushfire risk. If possible, development should be sited on flat land away from unmanaged vegetation and close to public roads.

To make decisions about the location of your building, you should:

  • consider slope, access, aspect, orientation and vegetation
  • site new buildings as far from bushfire hazard as possible
  • minimise the need for long access and exit routes through areas of bushfire hazard
  • locate buildings as close as practicable to property entrances
  • provide safe access and exit for emergency services
  • avoid and minimise the removal of vegetation

Building structure

There are two approaches to construction: traditional or prefab/modular.

Traditional construction

The traditional approach is for a structure to be erected on the development site from the ground up, using timber or steel framing with brick or other suitable external cladding, or solid brick or concrete walls. Depending on the site conditions, concrete slabs, or sub floors on posts or other foundations, are all possible.

Steel framed construction is an alternative to timber framed construction. There are specific standards for steel-framed construction in bushfire-prone areas with some advantages due to the non-flammability of steel framing and resistance to termite attack.

Prefab/modular construction

In modular construction, preparation of the prefabricated elements can proceed in a factory setting while site preparation and footings are prepared on-site. There is potential time saving because both parts of the build process can occur simultaneously and preparation of modular units in a factory is not impacted by weather.

Site access for potentially large premade components, trucks and crane access will be an important consideration that should be addressed in the conceptual and planning phase. Consider the route that delivery trucks will take including road and bridge widths and load capacity.

Builders and designers can provide advice on what approach to general construction makes the best overall sense and is the most practical, efficient, resilient and cost-effective for your site.