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Building in hazardous areas

If you are building in a hazardous area, there may be additional considerations.

The Tasmanian Government is developing guidelines for building in a number of different types of hazardous areas including:

You can find information about whether your property may be affected by any hazards by looking at www.iplan.tas.gov.au.

The requirements for building in areas affected by natural hazards are changing during 2017.

The changes will take effect at the same time as the new Tasmanian Planning Scheme in each municipal area. This process is expected to commence in the first municipal areas in late 2017.

The requirements set out in the Building Act 2000 and the Building Regulations 2014 will continue to apply until then.

For more information see Fact Sheet - Building requirements for hazardous areas (transitional provisions) (pdf, 195.6 KB)

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Building in landslip-prone areas

Large areas of land in Tasmania are subject to slope instability and landslides have destroyed about 60 houses in the last 50 years.

The financial cost to owners and the community has been high.

Some problem areas have been declared under State legislation to be declared landslip areas.

These areas have been classified as either A or B landslip areas, with the A area posing the most risk. In the declared areas there are restrictions placed on what types of buildings can be constructed and what types of building work, or other activities may be carried out on that land. This includes a ban on the removal of vegetation.

These restrictions are found in the Building Act 2000 and Building Regulations 2014.

Mineral Resources Tasmania has produced maps which can provide information on landslides and other geo-hazards.

Many Tasmanian planning schemes contain restrictions for use and development in landslip hazard areas.  Details of these planning restrictions, as well as maps of landslip hazard areas, are available at www.iplan.tas.gov.au.

The Australian Building Codes Board have developed the Landslide Hazards Handbook (2nd Edition 2015).

Building in flood hazard areas

Flood damage to your home or business premises can be devastating. If land is known to be prone to flooding, the design of a proposed building must comply with additional restrictions.

To find out the flood risk in your area, check the following sources:

  • www.iplan.tas.gov.au
  • The Local Council may also have adopted a recent flood report and map for an area not included in the Regulations
  • Council planning schemes may indicate which areas are flood prone
  • Council staff or elected members may have local knowledge of when flooding occurred in the past.  Also ask neighbours or people who live in the area
  • Local newspapers, libraries or community history centres may have access to records of previous flooding
  • Insurance companies that conduct business in the area

Construction standards

The legal requirements for building in an area that is subject to flooding is that the floor level of any habitable room must be 300mm or more above the designated flood level for that land.  The 'designated flood level' is:

  1. the flood level that has a 1% probability of being exceeded in any one year (for a watercourse flood plain mapped or reported on); or
  2. 600mm above ground level or the highest known flood level (for those areas not mapped); or
  3. 600mm above the ordinary high-water mark for a spring tide (for land subject to tides).

Building in bushfire-prone areas

If you are building in a bushfire-prone area, there are special requirements for the design, construction or alteration of certain types of buildings.

Am I in a bushfire-prone area?

Your land is most likely to be in a bushfire-prone area if you have unmanaged vegetation (including grass) greater than 1 hectare in area within 100 metres of your building site.

The risk to a habitable building from that vegetation will need to be assessed before new building work is permitted.

What types of buildings can be affected?

Special construction standards apply to these types of buildings:

  • a residential house or unit, whether detached or not (Class 1a)
  • guest house style tourist accommodation (Class 1b)
  • flats, units or townhouses with sole occupancy units situated one above the other (Class 2)
  • residential buildings such as accommodation for a school, or the aged, or tourist accommodation such as a motel or backpacker's hostel (Class 3)
  • a processing facility, such as a factory (Class 8)
  • public buildings, such as schools, health care buildings or aged care buildings (Class 9)
  • decks, garages or other non-habitable outbuildings associated with any of the other types of buildings mentioned above (Class 10a)

('Class' refers to the building classification system used in the National Construction Code).

What are the special design or construction standards that apply?

The National Construction Code (NCC) provides the minimum standard for all building work in Tasmania. It provides that for any new building work (including alterations and extensions) in a bushfire-prone area, the building work must comply with the requirements of Australian Standard AS 3959 - 2009 Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas. There are extra provisions for design and construction, over and above the usual building standards, to minimise the risks to occupants should the building come under attack from a bushfire. There are graded "Bushfire Attack Levels" (BALs) depending on the level of risk. A building with a high BAL will require much higher construction specifications than a building with a lower potential level of bushfire attack.

Some examples of these special construction requirements include:

  • fine mesh screens made of metal (bronze or stainless steel) fixed over windows, weep holes and vents to prevent embers blowing into the building
  • timber shingle roofs forbidden
  • eaves and timber floors enclosed
  • timber posts, if permitted, treated to make them fire resistant
  • door and windows fire resistant and minimising gaps around them
  • non-combustible or fire rated cladding

Incorporating appropriate features or measures from the Standard into the particular building's design will reduce the effects of ember attack and radiant heat, two of the main forms of bushfire attack.

Road access and water supply standards

All new dwellings (and Class 2 and 3 buildings) in bushfire-prone areas must also have:

  • a firefighting water supply of at least 10,000 litres (this can include tanks, dam, swimming pool or from a hydrant)
  • an all-weather road of a suitable standard to give safe access to emergency services including firefighting appliances. The required road is a single lane private access track with a minimum carriageway of 4m wide.

Further information

Full details of these specific requirements are found in the:

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Bushfire Hazard Practitioners accredited by the Tasmanian Fire Service (TFS)

Bushfire hazard practitioners are accredited by the Chief Officer of the Tasmania Fire Service to provide advice on matters relating to planning and building in bushfire-prone areas.

The Director of Building Control's Determination on Certificates of Specialists and Other Persons also recognises these Accredited Assessors for the provision of Bushfire Hazard Certificates, including determining the Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) for an application for building work.  Such certification can be accepted and relied on by a building surveyor for their assessment for granting a Certificate of Likely Compliance.  The Accredited Assessor's report must be provided to the Permit Authority when making an application for a building permit.

A list of Accredited Bushfire Hazard Assessors can be found on the Tasmanian Fire Service webpage Building for Bushfires. This page also provides general information for home owners, designers and builders.

Further information

Training Slides on Bushfire-prone Areas

A training presentation titled Bushfire Safety Measures - What have we learned so far?, by Mark Chladil of the Tasmania Fire Service, explains these key bushfire concepts:

  • Bushfire Prone Areas
  • BCA Requirements
  • Planning vs Building requirements
  • BAS Anomalies
  • Materials and Assemblies

Training Slides on Bushfire Prone Areas (PDF, 991 KB, 26 pages)

Use of Polycarbonate

An alternative solution has been developed by the Tasmanian Fire Service in regards to the use of polycarbonate, up to bushfire attack level (BAL) 19, as per the requirements of AS 3959-2009 Construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas.

The Tasmanian Fire Service - Bushfire Prone Areas Advisory Note - No 3 - 2014 [pdf/2.30mb/9 pages] is available.