Bushfire building report prompts improvement action
Building and Energy’s General Inspection Report Three – Bush fire building requirements in Western Australia evaluated work carried out by building surveyors, bushfire consultants and builders at 54 new homes in bushfire-prone areas across 14 WA local governments during 2017 and 2018.
The report looks into how bushfire-resistant the construction is and if it meets the Building Code of Australia (BCA) requirements.
While a small sample size, the report finds that while the industry was responding well, some improvements were necessary to increase the confidence in compliance.
“While much of the work was satisfactory, it was disappointing that none of the dwellings had a complete set of plans or specifications that fully addressed all the relevant inspection points to show how the building complied with the BCA bushfire requirements,” Building and Energy executive director Saj Abdoolakhan says.
The bushfire planning and building reforms were introduces in December 2015 following recommendations in an inquiry into the February 2011 Perth Hills bushfire.
The inspections found:
- Many plans and specifications had insufficient information about how the building met the BCA bushfire requirements.
- Some BAL assessments did not accurately reflect the bushfire risk identified on site.
- Although all building surveyors completed bushfire statements on their certificates of design compliance, some did not provide detail on the use of alternative methods – known as performance solutions – to achieve BCA compliance and
- Builders generally complied with the BCA bushfire requirements but some materials and methods of construction needed improvement, such as use of timber with inadequate fire resistance, plastic window components rather than metal fittings and excessive gaps around garage doors.
Building and Energy’s main aim is to monitor the implementation of the bushfire requirements, however, the regulator also took action on unsatisfactory work by direct liaison with the builder or referral to the relevant local government permit authority.
“If people have concerns about whether the bushfire building requirements have been applied to their homes, I encourage them to contact their builder to discuss this,” Saj says.
“Building and Energy is continuing to monitor compliance with the bushfire building requirements through its regular inspections and audits.”