Building Amendment Regulations 2016 relating to bushfires announced

The Western Australian Government has announced that the Building Amendment Regulations (2016), published in the Government Gazette today will come into operation on Friday, 8 April 2016.

From 8 April 2016, the 4 month transition exemption for the application of the bushfire construction requirements of the Building Code to bushfire-prone areas will end.

The Amendment Regulations relate to bushfire regulations and redefine the terms AS3959, building site, bushfire attack level (BAL), bushfire performance requirement and relevant edition of the Building Code. The Amendment Regulations, which amend the Building Regulations 2012, include several important changes to bushfire planning compliance:

  1. Certain minor alterations and additions to existing residential buildings to comply with the bushfire construction requirements of the Building Code will be deferred until 1 May 2018
  2. The installation of roof-mounted evaporative air conditioner units are now defined as ‘building work’ and must comply with applicable building standards (unless exempted where the building is not in a bushfire-prone area, where the building is a Class 4 to Class 9 building or the bushfire attack level for the area is BAL-Low, or if the BAL is BAL-12.5 to BAL-29 and it complies with the requirements for roof penetration in AS3959)
  3. Building surveyors must comply with the Building Code requirements for buildings in designated bushfire-prone areas, including the Certificate of Design Compliance (CDC), which is signed by building surveyors in support of applications for building permits. A building surveyor who signs a CDC for a Class 1, 2, or 3 building or a Class 10a building or deck located within 6 metres from a Class 1, 2 or 3 building must now provide extra information. The extra information includes a statement about whether the building will be in a bushfire-prone area, and if so, the Bushfire Attack Level for the building site or any other measure used and, for a Class 1 building, a statement about each alternative solution the bushfire performance requirement and details of the assessment method used.

Exemptions

Exemptions apply for specified minor alterations (renovations, alterations, extensions, improvements or repairs) from meeting the Building Code bushfire performance requirements, if:

  1. the estimated value of the building work is under $20,000 or
  2. the alteration does not increase the risk of ignition from bushfire attack for the existing building being altered.

Here are some examples:

  1. If you proposed to alter an existing house where the building work is $10,000, the addition will be excluded.
  2. If you propose an addition to an existing house, which was not required to comply with the bushfire construction requirements at the time of construction, constructed from the same materials as the existing building, but on the side not exposed to the bushfire-prone vegetation, so it does not reduce the setback of the building from the vegetation and does not increase the risk of bushfire, this is also excluded.
  3. If you propose an addition to an existing house between the existing house and the bushfire-prone vegetation, using the same materials as the existing house, the addition will reduce the setback between the building and the vegetation and this increases the risk of ignition from bushfire attack. If the estimated value of the building work is over $20,000, it is not excluded building work and you will have to comply with the requirements.
  4. If you propose to construct a 2 storey addition that proposes to use combustible cladding over the footprint of an existing building that uses non-combustible cladding, while the construction itself does not increase the bushfire attack level or reduce setbacks, the use of combustible cladding increases the risk of ignition from bushfire attack to the existing building. If the estimated value of the building work is over $20,000, it is not excluded building work and you will have to comply with the requirements.

If you are unsure if your proposed building falls under one of the exemptions, WA BAL Report can determine if one of the exemptions applies. If no exemptions apply, WA BAL Report can also determine the bushfire construction requirements you will be liable to comply with.

Building classes

The Building code only applies the bushfire performance requirements to Class 1, 2, 3 buildings and Class 10a buildings located within 6 metres of a Class 1, 2 or 3 building. WA BAL Report or a registered building surveyor will be able to tell you if your structure is a Class 1, 2, 3 or 10a building.

WA BAL Report appreciates that the Amendment Regulations proposed by the WA Government may be difficult to understand. WA BAL Report are happy to assist you in determining and helping you meet your specific requirements for your proposed building in a bushfire-prone area.

For more information

WA BAL Report are experts at conducting Bushfire Attack Level Assessments, Bushfire Attack Level Reports and bushfire prevention strategies in general in Perth and Western Australia. For more information, contact our friendly staff on 08 6114 9356 or at admin@wabalreport.com.au.

Thank you for visiting www.wabalreport.com.au

WA BAL Report

 

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