Is the barbie on the timber deck a thing of the past?

Is the barbie on the timber deck a thing of the past?

Almost every West Australian has a fond memory of coming home from the beach on a hot humid day with sand still stuck to their feet and having a bbq on the timber deck. Whether your taste is prawn, steak or just a sausage in sauce and bread, the feeling of timber boards under your feet could be relegated to a bygone era with imminent changes to Western Australian building laws being introduced by the Building Commission.

The Building Commission has raised the bar yet again and set 8 April 2016 for a mandatory Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) reporting if your property is deemed to be located in a bushfire prone area. So whether you live in City Beach, Floreat or Mount Claremont adjacent to Bold Park or located in the south west in Busselton, Dunsborough, Gracetown, Margaret River or Yallingup and surrounded by the forests of the south west – you could find yourself with an adverse rating. The second most severe Bushfire Attack Level category being rated by bush fire assessors as BAL 40 – property owners will not only have an increased cost for professional fees for a bush fire assessment, but also have to utilise more stringent construction details to satisfy AS3959-2009. It is estimated that 1 in 5 building permits will require a BAL assessment across Western Australia.

If you find yourself having to build to BAL40, a few examples of the additional architectural detailing required under Section 8 of AS3959-2009 include:

  • walls to be made of non-combustible material (Section 8.4.1)
  • windows shall have bushfire shutters or 5mm toughened glass with stainless steel mesh (Section 8.5.2)
  • eaves to be lined with minimum 4.5mm fibre cement sheeting
  • decking shall be non-combustible

Unfortunately, there is a limited number of hard wood species that comply with AS3959-2009 as bushfire-resisting timber of a BAL 29 designed dwelling but at BAL 40 you can only use plastic composite products. It seems Walt Disney wasn’t too far off with his House of the Future‘ (1957) as it will soon be legislated to build with synthetic decking materials rather that what is supplied by nature.

A Threadgold Architecture product review of plastic composite decking products (to meet AS3959-2009 BAL 40 requirements) will assist property owners intending to build under the new legislative requirements.

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