Don’t be scared or afraid or even put off when you have heard that your home is located within BAL FZ zone.
What is BAL FZ? Put simply it is the highest level of “Bushfire Attack Zone” that there is & bascially means that you can’t have any exposed timber on your outdoor living area. Being within this zone doesn’t stop you from building your deck, however it does limit your material options & even eliminates some.
Don’t shoot the messenger…….. I often hear “But the house is all made of timber, why do I need to build my deck with no timber? It doesn’t make sense?”
After a number of large, destructive fires a few years ago the authorities clamped down on the bushfire regulations for construction to minimise loss of peoples homes & more importantly loss of life.
Ember attack from a approaching bushfire is what keeps the fire moving & is often what sets houses alight – the embers fall in blocked gutters or on decks which catch a light & then before you know it the house is up & then gone.
So if you think about it, doing something like constructing your new deck &/or outdoor living area to the current regulations will mean that you have a better chance of getting through the bushfire unscaved.
So what are your options?
I say this a lot – every building product has a plus & a minus; there isn’t a silver bullet whether you are talking about bricks, carpet or decks & patio covers. You need to do your research & understand your options so you choose the one that suits your requirements – your aesthetic styling, your budget & how it will function for you.
We are using more & more of steel sub frames in our decking constructions – we call them “Colorspan External Framing System”. The steel will give you more peace of mind in knowing that you have a stronger deck.
A well constructed & maintained deck should last you a lifetime, but where we see decks fail is in the maintenance & then the product failing due to moisture etc. This is especially the case on exposed decks where there isn’t a patio cover to hold out the weather. This is where the steel subframe wins out.
Most people that we talk to these days are looking for the ‘maintenance free’ option. I would say that a tiled deck would be as close as you can get.
This would also be your most expensive option as the structure is all the same, however you then need to buy & then lay the tiles to go over the floor sheeting.
With so many different tile sizes & designs available you can find something to suit your home. You can now even get some that look like timber!
This is often the type of product that people either love or run away from. The aluminium has a huge range of colours available & most people don’t actually realise that it isn’t timber. For me, one of the areas that separates it from timber is how straight it is – you don’t get the natural deviation that you can get in timber boards.
Not every product complies with BAL FZ requirements. An area where I see alot of people stumble is that most composite decking boards generally don’t comply with the highest rating BAL zone – you will find some will go up to a maximum of BAL 40 & most imported composite boards don’t have any compliance ratings at all.
There are a few other products that do meet the BAL FZ requirements, however through our experience we have found that the negatives in these outweigh the positives so we’ve tried to steer clear of them.
Are you unsure about your BAL Zone? Understand this early & get your BAL property assessment. Yes, this will cost you some money up front, but it will save your heartache later on & having to undo what you have already designed.
The difference between BAL 29 & BAL 40 means the difference between being able to use hardwood timber & not.
Listen to our Podcast Interview on ‘Building out the back in a bushfire zone”.
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