Recognising the BAL rating for owner builders in SA is essential. Thus echoing the resilient spirit forged in the aftermath of Australia’s devastating 2009 natural disaster. With over 2,000 properties obliterated, South Australia is on a steadfast journey to recovery. Therefore, prospective owner builders in the region are entrusted with comprehending and navigating the intricate landscape of Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) ratings. As a result, these ratings, embedded in the fabric of building safety in bushfire-prone areas, play a pivotal role in fortifying new homes and reconstruction efforts with essential measures for heightened protection.

South Australia: Paving the Way

In alignment with the Planning, Development, and Infrastructure Act 2016, South Australia sets a Ministerial Building Standard intricately connected with the Act and the Regulations. In essence, this comprehensive framework encompasses designated bushfire-prone areas identified through overlays to the Planning and Design Code (P&D Code). The determination of BAL in these areas unfolds through meticulous methods outlined in the Australian Standard AS 3959 or deemed-to-apply BAL levels based on risk assessments.


Six Steps to a Successful BAL Assessment

  1. Assess the Fire Danger Index (FDI). Gauge the probability of a bushfire based on temperature, humidity, wind speed, and fuel state. FDI 100 generally applies, except for alpine areas, where it is FDI 50.
  2. Identify Vegetation Types. Classify vegetation based on tables provided in the Standard, considering exclusions for specific types like non-vegetated areas and managed grasslands.
  3. Measure the Distance to Vegetation. Horizontally measure from the edge of vegetation to the external wall or supporting posts, excluding features like eaves and rainwater tanks.
  4. Determine the Slope of the Land. Assess the slope’s impact on bushfire severity by considering effective upslope or downslope to the building.
  5. Assign the BAL. Using tables corresponding to FDI 50 or 100, upslope or downslope, vegetation type, and distance, determine the BAL for your site.
  6. Apply Construction Requirements. Refer to the Australian Standard AS 3959-2009 to implement construction methods aligned with the determined BAL, ensuring increased protection against bushfire threats.

Understanding BAL Ratings

  • BAL-Low. Insufficient risk to warrant specific construction requirements.
  • BAL-12.5. Ember attacks with increasing heat flux.
  • BAL-19. Increased ember attack and burning debris, higher heat flux.
  • BAL-29. Further escalation in ember attack and heat flux, potential flame exposure.
  • BAL-40. Direct exposure to flames, high heat flux, and ember attack.
  • BAL-FZ. Extreme risk with direct exposure to flames.



To sum up, navigating the BAL assessment process in South Australia involves a meticulous understanding of the standards’ requirements. By diligently following these six steps and aligning with construction standards, owner builders significantly contribute to creating safer, more resilient homes in bushfire-prone areas.


All things considered, if you need additional information, for the Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) Rating for Owner Builders in SA, individuals can contact an Owner Builder Coach or relevant authorities or refer to the Ministerial Building Standard Publication for additional information.

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