Many people who have lost a house in a bushfire haven’t worked with an architect before and might skip working with one this time due to concerns about architect’s fees, or that they’ll end up with a house that’s nothing like the one they lost.
These are legitimate concerns, but there are a number of benefits to working with an architect, especially around the home’s cost to run and performance in hot and cold weather. Their job is to improve your quality of life through the design of your home.
A good architect will work with you to design a home that not only meets BAL requirements but that is designed for best bushfire resilience and energy efficiency, while being mindful of your needs and budget. Many leading residential architects make the most of passive design features such as natural heating and cooling methods, to keep occupants comfortable year-round and save money on energy bills.
An architect can assist with as much or as little of the project as you choose, including a full architectural service, from design to construction completion. They can also review designs drafted by you, a draftsperson or another architect.
The pages of Sanctuary magazine are full of houses designed by architects to maximise environmental sustainability and performance, with many designed for bushfire resistance and high BAL ratings as well. You can find leading architects there, and also via word of mouth in your community. Also look at architect signs on construction sites in your local area and contact the owners about their experience.
The Sanctuary magazine article ‘Choosing an Architect’ has more advice.
There is also support for bushfire-affected property owners to engage an architect through Architects Assist, an initiative of the Australian Institute of Architects. Find out more in Architects Assist pro bono design service.