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Designing Your Queenslander Home For Bushfire Protection In Toowoomba And The Darling Downs Regions

If you have read our Blog before, or seen our Project Gallery, you will know that we absolutely love living in Toowoomba and the Darling Downs regions, one of the most beautiful places in Australia we think!
 
Shelton Homes also builds numerous Queenslander homes for clients who live in the area, not only to embrace their majestic views and local landscapes but to also maximise safety in the event of a bushfire. As a trusted building company we are always mindful that state forests like Deongwar, Glen Rock, and national parks like Lockyer are close by.
 
Depending on where you are building your new Queenslander home, here is how we will approach the build and design for bushfire zoning and protection:

1. Determining Your Property's Bushfire Attack Level (BAL)

The first step if you are looking to build in the bush, on a rural property or next to a reserve is to understand your land’s Bushfire Attack Level (BAL), which will be defined by factors like the closeness of dense bush and the gradient of your land.

The BAL of your block will determine where you can build and the right materials for you home. Just for reference, properties with a BAL over 40 have the highest risk are subject to the most stringent building requirements.
 
While your land's BAL information is available from the Toowoomba and the Darling Downs councils, where you can apply for an s149 certificate, if you are deep in scrub or bush we would highly recommend looking into the option of an accredited bushfire consultant first and foremost.
 
We have seen situations where the council deemed an area BAL 15- 20, but after a bushfire consultant's assessment, the property was deemed to have a BAL 40 rating. This rating can make a big difference in your home's design and position of your home on your property.

2. Creating The Perfect Home Design

If your property has a high BAL rating, you need to be looking into your home design from the ground up. We will work closely with you on this, paying more attention than your average Queenslander home builder would do.
 
While Queenslander homes are by nature designed to withstand Queensland's temperature extremes, in high BAL areas, construction and materials need to be taken highly into consideration. Features like special cladding, special flyscreens, water tanks, gutter guards, sprinkler systems, heat resistant glazing and even protection for the subfloor areas for optimum bushfire safety.
 
Please contact us if you are unsure about anything to do with your home’s design for bushfires!
 
The thing to remember if you are building in a high BAL area of Toowoomba or Darling Downs, is to get a local bushfire consultant and building company working closely together with you on your home's concept drawings and construction. This is so you know exactly what design and features will offer your family the most protection, and let you budget your new home accordingly.

3. In The Event Of A Bushfire

Preparation is everything when it comes to avoiding property, pets or personal injury during a bushfire. Even the vegetation type and the slope of your land can considerably speed up a fire’s progress.

In the event of a fire, keep all mobile phones and communication devices close and the local Toowoomba radio or Darling Downs news on. Be aware of noises and smells, can you hear sirens? Are neighbours yelling? What are your pets or livestock doing? You need to be ultra-aware of everything that is happening around you in a bushfire situation!

If you want to be prepared to defend your property (only to a certain point of course), make 100% sure that you have multiple escape routes planned and can see that they are not blocked.

Even if you do not plan to defend your home, make sure you know your area like the back of your hand. Likewise, if you are building on a grassy rural property, airborne embers can still put your home at risk and block your escape routes. 

In Summary

It is critical to have a home designed specifically for your BAL zone and a solid bushfire plan already in place when a bushfire attack occurs. You need to have multiple escape routes you know in detail, as well as water supply options such as a swimming pool, water tanks and purpose built petrol pumps if electricity is cut.

You need to plan everything, and make sure your family knows your plan inside out!

Contact Us If You Have Any Questions Or Concerns

If you have a block in the Toowoomba or Darling Downs areas with a BAL of 15 or above, it is best to talk to the experts first. We can chat about your land and provide advice on the best type of Queenslander home designs for your family. Simply contact us today.
 
We also highly recommend reading the Queensland Government's Bushfire Guide here, a guide we use.