Is Your Home Up To It’s BAL Rating?

Did you know that building in bushfire prone areas requires complying with a special set of building rules?

With fire bans about to come into effect in South Australia, we hear a lot of talk about clearing vegetation from around your home and keeping gutters clear of leaf debris.  But what about our actual homes.  

How ready is your home for bushfires, does its construction meet the Bushfire rating for your area?

So what is a bushfire rating and what are the rules all about?

Your home is assessed with what’s called a Bushfire Attack Level or BAL for short.  There are 6 levels –

  • BAL Low
  • BAL 12.5
  • BAL 19
  • BAL 29
  • BAL 40
  • BAL FZ

Your Attack level is assessed by the CFS and is based on a couple of different factors such as;

  • Slope of the land around your home
  • Proximity and height of trees around your home and their species
  • Proximity, type and size of undergrowth, bushes and plants around your home

The BAL rating that your home is assessed at impacts the way certain building elements are finished off.  Some of the key features of building a BAL rated home are;

  • Hardwood or steel for exposed structural parts of the house (such as beams, posts, deck framing etc)
  • Weep holes in brick work to have a metal mesh screen installed in them
  • No gaps greater than 2 mm in openings in the walls

Along with many more seemingly small requirements that all add up.

So with all these different regulations to comply with, what are some key ones that you, as a client can see?

Note the gap between the frame and the brick work at the end of each brick

One key area that is often overlooked with protecting your home from bushfire attack is the installation of dektites on your roof.

A dektite a rubber boot that is fitted around holes on your roof for pipes, chimneys and cables.

Did you know that there are different types, and some of them don’t comply with the requirements of BAL Ratings?

How can you spot if your dektites are the right ones?  Luckily, it’s pretty simple.

If your dektites are red like the ones below, then you can be very confident that its compliant up to BAL 29. These are made from Red Silicone and the genuine ones can withstand temperatures up to 250°C intermittently.

If your dektites are black or grey, you need to investigate a bit more closely to see if its a premium range or original and if its manufactured by Deks.  

If its a premium version (marked on the rubber) then its likely to be compliant up to BAL 12.5. These are made from a product call EPDM and the genuine ones can withstand temperatures up to 150°C intermittently.

If they are either black or grey and dont have any markings, then its worth finding out where it came from and ringing the supplier to confirm.

On top of this check for gaps around windows and doors such as shown below.  These gaps can let embers into your wall cavity, starting a fire you don’t see until it’s too late.

If you’re planning to build in a bushfire prone area, it’s important to ask your builder what their experience is to make sure you are working with one that specialises in the bushfire construction.

To find out more questions to ask your builder download our free guide by clicking below.

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