BAL Construction Costs

2 Asset Protection Zones — Bushfire Services In Port Stephens, NSW

BAL Construction Costs

As a bushfire consultant undertaking Bushfire Reports and BAL Certificates I often get asked what is the difference in the construction costs for different BAL levels?
Surprisingly there has not been a lot of research on this, although building construction standards are viewed as one of the major bushfire protection measures. It was reported in 2018 that a leading insurance company estimated the costs of building ranged from $16,000 for BAL 12.5 up to $56,000 for BAL 40 and between $65,000 to $277,000 for BAL Flame zone construction. A Regulatory Impact Statement undertaken by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) in 2009 analysed the costs of three different construction designs:
1. A base house: single storey, 3-bedroom, timber weatherboard construction, slab on ground.
2. Large family home: 2-storey, 4-bedroom, brick veneer, slab on ground.
3. Elevated lightweight construction (ELC): single storey, 4-bedroom, timber weatherboard construction, elevated subfloor.

The below table is a summary of costs reported in 2009. The Construction Cost Index (CCI) from the ABCB has been used to provide an estimate for 2020 costs which has been provided in brackets for the different BAL construction levels.

Base House Large two-storey ELC house
BAL- LOW $0 $0 $0
BAL-12.5 $11,535 ($13,000) $14,981 ($16,500) $21,428 ($27,000)
BAL-19 $11,535 ($13,000) $14,981 ($16,500) $21,428 ($27,000)
BAL-29 $15,471 ($17,100) $17,095 ($19,000) $35,024 ($38,800)
BAL-40 $17,107 ($19,000) $19,751 ($22,000) $62,357 ($69,000)
BAL-FZ $20,885 ($23,100) $28,905 ($32,000) $76,679 ($85,000)


The total cost increase may not be entirely attributed to bushfire compliance, other construction standards such as energy efficiencies need to be considered. A recent article in Fire Australia issue 2:2020 has shed further light on the issues around BAL construction costs, looking at a case example from regional Western Australia. This article reflected the price increase of the different BAL construction levels as a percentage of the total build cost.

We can see that the BAL construction costs can have a significant impact on the overall cost of a project, especially when BAL29 or greater construction level is required.

It is important for builders, architects and mum and dad developers to understand the impacts on the cost of the project. Obtaining the right advice early in your project can save thousands in construction costs.

If you wish to know how to get a lower BAL construction level, please read my other blog, BAL Assessment Methodology.