Bushfires are fires that burn around a wild area of land, and therefore, are difficult to control. They tend to spread quickly, so houses that are close to vulnerable areas can suffer extreme damages. They can burn down entirely if they were built with the wrong materials, and since these fires can happen spontaneously, there is usually little time to salvage anything. That’s where bushfire-proof houses come in.
Over the last few years, scientists have created computer models that can help predict climate futures, including bushfires. They estimate changes in temperature or precipitation to define when bushfires are more likely to occur, what seasons they can happen, and what areas will be more susceptible. This technology, paired with the right construction materials and bushfire-proof houses, can prevent devastating damage to many communities.
What Are the Best Materials for Bushfire-Proof Houses?
There are areas where bushfires tend to happen often. In such areas, it’s better to equip the house with fire-resistant materials, such as corrugated iron for cladding. When using timber, it’s crucial to use fire-resistant woods like turpentine, blackbutt, red river gum, and red ironbark.
When it comes to window frames, aluminum or metal reinforced PVC can prevent fire from coming through the windows. Steel frames tend to be highly durable and fire-resistant. Another tip is to install a sound sprinkler system in the house that can spray water pressured to 300kpa. Such a sprinkler helps to dissipate any potential fire within the home.
Great Designs and Construction Examples of Bushfire-Proof Houses
Before deciding on the best bushfire-proof design for the property, it’s essential to know if it’s located in a bushfire-prone area. A site assessment might be required, and a permit could be necessary for renovations. It’s also crucial to measure the building’s BAL (Bushfire Attack Level). You may also need its potential exposure to ember attacks, radiant heat, or contact with direct flame in the case of a bushfire event.
For example, there is a bushfire-proof house in Victoria, Australia, that before its construction started, its building system was burn-tested and worked. What makes this house effective against fire is its soil-covered roof and the recycled and recyclable materials it was built with, like concrete slabs and steel frames.
Another example is geo-ship domes. The main materials in building them include ceramic for their panels, struts, and hubs. Even though its ceramic parts are lightweight, tests prove they are 80% heat reflective.
These homes prove that it’s possible to make bushfire-resilient homes when combining fire-resistant construction materials with resilient home designs. And that, perhaps, is the future of construction as we continue to face unprecedented fires due to climate change.
In case you have any architectural, structure, and MEP design needs, feel free to contact us.
Geraldine Orentas is a writer from Happy Writers, Co. in partnership with outdoor kitchen cabinet retailer, Werever.