Frequently Asked Questions

 

It can be daunting if you suddenly get asked by your builder, architect or building designer what is the BAL rating of your development?’ or are told ‘you will need a bushfire assessment’, especially if you are new to building and have not heard these terms before. 

These are the two most common questions I get asked, and here I’ve tried to help you through.

 

What developments require Bush Fire assessment?

All developments within Bush Fire prone lands require assessment. This includes occupied and non- occupied dwellings.

Is my land Bush Fire prone land?

You can find out if your lot is identified as Bush Fire prone land by completing a search on the NSW RFS website https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/building-in-a-bush-fire-area/planning-for-bush-fire-protection/bush-fire-prone-land/check-bfpl

You will need your lot / DP or your street address. If your lot is identified as Bush Fire prone land you will require further documentation to assist your development.

How can you tell which document I need? 

In plain English, there are two principle pathways for residential developments - complying and non-complying developments. There are several factors that determine if your development is either complying or non-complying. For Bush Fire the principle elements are the distance, type of vegetation and slope of the bush that impacts on your property. A Preconstruction Constraints Assessment provides you with this information. A Bush Fire Due Diligence Report goes a step further and provides you with the Bush Fire Mitigation Measures requirements for the development to confirm with planning requirements.

Once you have determined if your development is complying or non-complying you will ultimately require either a Complying Development Certificate for complying developments or a Bush Fire Assessment Report for non-complying developments to be submitted to the consenting authority.

Both above assessments must be issued by an accredited Bush Fire consultant. There are a whole range of reasons why a CDC might not be able to be issued for the land. If this happens, you'll required a Bush Fire Assessment Report. In many cases, clients opt directly for the Bush Fire Assessment Report to ensure all Bush Fire compliance, risks and mitigation are covered within the development process.  

I’m purchasing vacant land, or a house where the bush is nearby, what are the bush fire issues?

We can broadly break the issues into two categories, construction and planning. You will need to construct the building to a Bush Fire standard which is determined by the type of vegetation, the distance between the building and vegetation and the slope of the ground. The planning elements include the appropriate separation (Asset Protection Zone), positioning and protection of water, electricity and gas supplies, as well as landscaping features and emergency management arrangements.

What is a Grassland assessment?

Planning for Bush Fire Protection provides an assessment pathway when there is no forested vegetation within the 140m assessable area, and the only vegetation is unmanaged grasslands. The Bush Fire provisions consider the lower intensity fire that grasslands generate in consideration to forested vegetation. 

What is performance base solutions?

Performance based solutions are required when your development does not meet the base-line prescribed bushfire compliance requirements. It is a process were further analysis of the elements that mitigate, and support bushfire behaviour and protection of assets are assessed.  A combination of recommendations is provided which ultimately satisfies the performance criteria of the planning process, although do not satisfy the specific prescriptions.

Performance based solutions allow flexibility and innovation in responding to site-specific opportunities and constraints while still meeting the identified performance criteria.

Performance based solutions incorporates a Bush Fire design briefing and consultation with NSW RFS and client to determine the appropriate assessment pathway. This must be undertaken by an accredited Bush Fire practitioner and can take several months to complete.

What is the National Construction Code (NCC)?

The National Construction Code is a series of requirements that cover all type of construction standards including Bushfire.  The document can refer to other documents to support the construction requirements, and within bushfire the Australian Standards AS3959 Construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas is the relevant document. There are a variety of state variations within the NCC that need to be considered

 

If this still sounds confusing, why not get in touch- You can give us a ring on 0408 667 137.