Building in a Bushfire Zone: The Victorian Regulation

Well that was some interesting bedtime reading. Far from light. I went read through the Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) and Bushfire Protection: Planning Requirements. As I mentioned in my previous post, the block I am looking at in East Gippsland is affected by the BMO.

As I had hoped, it got me thinking. I could submit an application addressing all the criteria – I’m going to use these fancy, BAL*-FZ rated windows, and this fibre cement cladding at $200sq/m. That would put me in good stead to having the application approved. It certainly shows an appreciation of the risk and a commitment to my use of the land.

*BAL Stands for Bushfire Activity Level. The BAL at a particular point is determined by such things as the vegetation class, e.g. forest, scrub, grasslands; gradient of the land; and distance of the proposed building from the vegetation. BAL-LOW and BAL-12.5 are pretty safe. BAL-FZ is extremely risky. 

Fire. Not something to be messed with. This is a picture of the Black Saturday fires that really shook up Victoria.

But the costs. I haven’t priced a BAL-FZ or BAL-40 build yet but I can see it significantly adding to the budget. Considering the size of my proposed dwelling – 18sq/m – it won’t be that much of a blow out, I simply don’t need that many square metres of this higher quality material. However, it will add up and it defies the initial concept. The initial concept was to build a cheap tiny house out of salvaged materials. In short, the sort of place that you could let a bushfire have its way with and not be too upset. The sort of place that could easily be rebuilt – it’s only a house.

I have a feeling, though, that the council wouldn’t take to that idea so well. So I arrive at a cross road – do I keep looking or do I proceed with this one? I believe I can address the criteria satisfactorily. However, is it worth the cost? And, is it worth living in such a risky area?