Bushfire-proof houses are affordable and look good – so why aren’t we building more?

Bushfire-proof houses are affordable and look good – so why aren't we building more?
Created by architects Ian Weir and Kylie Feher, Karri fire house, in Denmark, Western Australia, was designed for a professional firefighter / Photograph: Andrew Halsall/Ian Weir Architects

After the deadly Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, architects provided free consultations and designs for bushfire-resistant homes. Only a few were built

In June 2009, not long after Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires claimed 173 lives and destroyed more than 2000 houses, a group of architects came together to help those who had been affected.

As part of the Victorian bushfire reconstruction and recovery authority’s We will Rebuild initiative, they offered free consultations and 19 customisable pro bono designs, which were environmentally sustainable and met the “higher end” of the building standards for those in bushfire prone areas. Surprisingly only a few of those homes were built.

Since then, regulations have been stepped up, and there are more bushfire resistant products on the market including bushfire resistant windows, doors and timber (pdf). Yet as the devastating fires in Wye River and Separation Creek in December and in Yarloop-Waroona in January demonstrated, bushfire resistant homes are still not being built in vulnerable areas. […]