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What is BAL?

11 March 2020

The importance of knowing your BAL

When looking to purchase vacant land you may have been told that the property is encumbered by a BAL requirement or you may have heard the term BAL before? But do you know exactly what it means – and what it means to you when looking for your new address?

 

BAL stands for “Bushfire Attack Level”

Essentially, the BAL refers to your home’s potential of being exposed to fire ember attack, radiant heat and direct flame contact. This relates to any area of land that may support a bush fire or be subject to a bush fire attack. The Department of Fire and Emergency Services provides a Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas where you can check whether a BAL rating may apply to your lot. Homes that are more than 100m from classified vegetation and not marked in pink on the Fire and Emergency website are usually not within a bush fire prone area and a BAL assessment would not be required.

With catastrophic bush fires impacting everyday Australians, you can understand why a system like this has been introduced to help inform and protect residents living in areas susceptible to bush fires.

If you are planning to build in an area that is recognised at risk to bush fires, you will most likely need a BAL assessment.

 

What are the levels of BAL?

The BAL ratings are measured across six increments of radiant heat (measured in kilowatts/sqm) being Low, 12.5, 19, 29, 40 and FZ and correlates to the distance your home is from the fire threat and dictates appropriate prevention measures you should implement to protect the property.

What impact does a BAL have on building a new home?

The higher the BAL rating for your land, the more considerations and cost there are to construction requirements (under the Australian Standard AS 3959-2009 Construction of Buildings in Bushfire Prone Areas).

Depending on property location and local government requirements you may incur the following:

  1. Planning approval – looks at the design and location of your new home
  2. Building Licence approval – will take into consideration plans, specifications and other requirements that are applicable to your BAL rating.
  3. Building Cost – you will incur additional costs for your building to comply with the nominated BAL rating. As an example, things like setbacks on the land and construction treatments such as roof sarking may be required. When it comes to BAL requirements be sure to advise your Builder that your lot may require a BAL assessment.

 

Buying land from Richard Noble and knowing your BAL

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that many properties in Western Australia are subject to BAL ratings, so don’t let that deter you from finding your dream location.

New land estates are designed from the very beginning to provide the best protection against bush fire attacks – and maybe even eliminate the risk altogether due to construction of the lots. Here at Richard Noble we employ the services of a Bushfire Assessor who produces a Fire Management Plan and provides a certificate of the BAL rating. With this certificate you can confidently seek out a building partner who will design your home in accordance with the rating provided. If a lot is outside of the bush fire prone area and does not need a BAL assessment we list it as No BAL.

Richard Noble are always here to help you make the right decision for you so take a wander around any one of our estates and get a feel for the lifestyle you want, and depending on what estate you visit, we’ll let you know if it’s in a BAL zone and the rating applicable. You can also visit the Department of Fire and Emergency Services website for more information.

Contact Rod Wright at Richard Noble & Company on 0407 945 834 for any buying needs or for further information!