GETTING READY TO REBUILD

Rebuilding after the summer’s bushfires can be aided by a common sense approach from government. 

The thoughts and prayers of HIA are with all of our members and the communities that have been affected by the fires. Now begins the long process of rebuilding homes and, in many cases, towns and villages. 

The rebuilding process will be complex and will involve homeowners (and their builders) meeting a range of local government requirements, along with meeting various state government requirements that influence home design and land use. 

HIA believes that many of these requirements can be foregone as one-off assistance or fast tracked to allow homeowners to return to their properties as quickly as possible. 

State governments, in consultation with the federal government and local governments, need to determine whether the waiving of fees and charges is offset in some way by a repayment from the appropriate recovery funds. 

Based on the assumption that most houses were built prior to the 2009 updates to Australian Standard 3959, if not, prior to the 1999 edition of that standard, it is reasonable to assume that the rebuilding costs in the highest risk areas will be significantly more than the previous insured cost. 

As HIA has continually pointed out, one of the biggest contributors to the cost of housing in Australia are the government taxes and charges. Given the likely challenges faced by many with respect to underinsurance, any relief that can be given on this front would be no doubt welcomed. 

Previous natural disasters have seen some affected councils waive council rates until new homes are constructed for owner- 

of a home, without seeking approval and to remove or prune any vegetation such as shrubs (but not trees) on their property within 50 metres of a home. At present this only applies to existing buildings but in these circumstances should be allowed in the development assessment process. 

A final option may be to consider the need for land buy back for any properties assessed at BAL-FZ where access is limited and government believes risk of return is too significant. With many of these properties adjoining crown land, this has proved a viable option in Victoria. 

These are just some of the many options that could be considered. It’s now over to government 

PEOPLE LIVING IN A BUSHFIRE-PRONE AREA MAY BE ELIGIBLE TO UNDERTAKE CERTAIN CLEARING PRACTICES AROUND AN EXISTING DWELLING… 

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