Building in a Bushfire Management Overlay

Building in a Bushfire Management Overlay

Etha Architecture has been developing new homes and renovations that keep up with building in bushfire regulations since the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009. These fires cemented change in building requirements that have helped in the protection of homes in more recent fires.

Macedon Ranges is prone to bushfires, thinking of how my family lived through the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983 still sends shivers down my spine, even though I was just little when they went through. So if your in the Bushland on top of The Mount or in the grass lands below it can be tricky to know what requirements your house needs to have to help protect it from the next bushfire.

The first item you need to know is if your home is in a designated bushfire management overlay. You can do this by talking to the Macedon Ranges Shire Council planning department, or by visiting the Mapshare website
and looking up your property.


You then need to work with an experienced professional such as a bushfire consultant, or Etha Architecture, to determine what Bushfire Attack Level your property may be subject to. This is done through a Bushfire Management Statement, which analyses where on your property is the safest location to build a house. You will want to do this prior to any other design work as it could be harder to move the design of the house later, or may cost you more in building requirements due to being in a location that is not as safe. This statement may be reviewed by the CFA as part of a planning submission for your dwelling. 

The Bushfire Attach Levels (BAL) are BAL Low, BAL 12.5, BAL 19, BAL 29, BAL 40 and BAL FZ (Flame Zone). Each of these levels have prescribed building requirements mandated under Australian Standard 3959-2018*.

If you are building in a Bushfire Management Overlay and want to know more information behind why these standards are now required, how effective they have been and the level of protection that each of these BAL ratings will require I suggest listening to the Undercover Architects interview with Jeff Dau, a Bushfire Consultant, to listen click link below.

Etha Architecture can undertake Bushfire Management Statements for your property in addition to the Architectural services required to design a home that meets you and your families needs.

*may be subjected to revision.

Problem Site

Problem Site?

“You fell in love with a block of land- but there is a problem.  “

Perhaps the block is too small- or perhaps too big! The site is very steep, or the boundary is a strange shape? Perhaps the view is to the south, but you want your living areas to have sunlight. Or there is a beautiful big gum tree right in the middle of the block that you don’t want to destroy. How are you going to build a house on the block of land you love with this problem? Well let me tell you, I (Architects) love problems. Designing a house to solve a site problem allows for creative and imaginative solutions that always enhance the design of your house.

Solutions to problem sites don’t always need to cost more than a simple site, they just need more thought put into them to fine the right solution. Spending time on site, as the architect, helps give a strong sense of what is possible and helps creativity in finding solutions. 

Reflecting Your Surroundings


Your Surroundings


“Quality Architecture enhances how you live inside your home and how your house responds to where it is located.”

Does your house get warm winter sunshine into your living areas? Do you have a view that you can only see by going outside? Are you warm in winter and cool in summer without the need for mechanical heating and cooling? Quality Architecture can do all of this for you, from an open paddock to a suburb estate.

Architect? Budget?


Can you get an architectural home with a small budget?

“The answer is YES!”

If you are happy to think outside the box and you can manage what space you need balanced with the space you want then it is possible to have house designed just for you by an architect that is affordable. This 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom 222sqm house is currently being constructed in Gisborne and has a tiny budget. If you’re interested to see if this is possible for you then give Etha Architecture a call.

Can I afford an architect?

Can I afford an Architect?

Architects always design what your can’t afford! Right?

“Well we do have great imaginations, but architects actually design to your budget! “

Architects work with clients to deliver their brief along side their budget. At Etha Architecture you get personalised service to explore your brief and how it directly relates to your budget. Checks and balances are essential to the design process. It is possible to have a beautiful house that reflects you that you can afford. Etha Architecture can help you along that path.

Extending or Renovating?

Extending / Renovating

Who should you call first? A builder?

Builders undertake the building works so it is understandable that most people call a builder first. Builders have lots of experience in building- that is what they specialise in!

 When you invite a Builder to your home and ask “what can I do to make my living area bigger?” and “how much will it cost?” the builder will guess an answer because they don’t know how big your ideas are or how elaborate you want your house to be. What a builder really wants is a full set of drawings that they costs and use to build your dreams. So how do you get there- You contact an Architect First! An architect will work with you to determine how much space you really want, how to make your house feel like yours, help you work out what level of finish you want and what will suit your budget. Taking time to work with an Architect not only helps you get exactly what you want, but can also save you time and money. Making a change on a drawing is simpler and cheaper than making that same change during the building stage. If your drawings aren’t detailed enough then any undocumented items will need to be solved during the building stage. Savings found by engaging for simple, quick drawings will be soon eaten up with a builder, plumber and carpenter standing around on site for hours trying to find the best way forward, at multiple stages of the build. Take the BEST first step towards your new home.