One summer over 200 houses were lost in NSW bushfires and another 50+ homes lost in Victoria.

For any building project to run smoothly, it’s vitally important to establish the ‘ground rules’ before you begin. A range of planning/development controls and a myriad of building regulations dictate what you can – and can’t – do, so it’s critical to understand them before starting any design work. Archicentre Australia design architects work with these things all the time but for the layperson they can be very confusing.

It’s especially important for anyone designing or building a home in a fire-affected area to be aware of the siting and construction requirements that affect new building work. In high-risk areas these requirements can influence the positioning of a building and/or the materials used for its construction. Even in lower risk areas measures may be required to reduce the risk of ember attack in advance of a fire front.

Simple precautions introduced during the design of a building – and enforced during construction – can make all the difference to the protection of life and property. Regular maintenance is also critical to ensure that these protective measures remain uncompromised.

It’s always important to make some early enquiries of the local authorities to establish what development controls or building regulations apply to a piece of land, but when building in a high fire-risk area it’s critical. Rigorous new construction standards have been introduced throughout Australia since Victoria’s Black Saturday fires in 2009 so you can’t take anything for granted.

Contact the local Council to get the most current information before you do anything and make sure everyone involved in the project is up-to-date with the latest regulatory requirements. Failing to understand them can result in permit issue delays and/or budget blowouts, both of  which will add to an already stressful exercise.