AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF BUILDING SURVEYORS URGES OWNERS TO BE PROACTIVE ABOUT BUSHFIRE BUILDING REFORMS

The Western Australian State Government has recently announced building reforms to developments in bushfire-prone areas. The reforms have a wide-ranging impact on homeowners and the public, but the measures are necessary to prevent the loss of life and buildings from bushfires.

A map of bushfire-prone areas has been released as part of the Planning and Development (Bushfire Risk Management) Regulations 2014, to be gazetted in the first half of 2016. The maps show that a large part of WA will be designated bushfire-prone. Large parts of WA’s south are now officially recognised as bushfire-prone areas, as well as Kings Park, the Perth Hills and metropolitan areas.

Buildings in bushfire-prone areas will require property owners to obtain a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) assessment and in the case of extreme bushfire risk (BAL 40 or BAL Flame Zone), undertake a bushfire management plan. The bushfire assessment would need to be conducted by a building surveyor or other building professional trained to perform such assessments prior to undertaking any development on the land.

Properties located within 100 metres of bushland of more than 1 hectare in size are now designated as being bushfire-prone, and will be impacted by the new planning regulations which require a BAL assessment in order to build a new dwelling or extend an existing dwelling.

The Australian Institute of Building Surveyors (AIBS) has released a media statement, urging property owners to be proactive and to contact a building surveyor if they have queries. Gary Fitzgerald, WA President of the AIBS, said lives and homes will be saved. “The maps may surprise many people who will realise for the first time that their property is located in a declared bushfire prone area and they’ll want to know what that means for them”, Mr Fitzgerald said. “People will naturally be worried about increased costs, possible development restrictions and what process they will have to go through if they want to build on their property.”

However, the AIBS added that the impacts on individual properties could not be accurately forecast before conducting a BAL assessment, and it was therefore impossible to predict the likely costs as each property and any proposed development would be different in each case.

Mr Fitzgerald stated it was important for West Australians to support the new planning regulations as bushfires can have a devastating impact on individuals, families and whole communities and the new regulations are in place to protect us all. The new measures will take effect in April 2016 in time for preparation for the 2016/17 summer bushfire season.

For more information

The team at WA BAL Report are experts at conducting bushfire attack level assessments, bushfire management plans and bushfire prevention in general. For more information, contact our friendly staff on 08 6114 9356 or at admin@wabalreport.com.au

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