Building resilience | The West Australian

Designed, prototyped and tested by CSIRO, James Cook University and Room11 Architects, One House is a home built through a partnership with Suncorp to show the importance of home resilience and how it can be executed in builds.

According to Suncorp research, eight in 10 Australian homeowners show minimal interest in spending to make their home more resilient to natural disasters.

This is despite the fact that almost half of Australian homeowners think the country will see more natural disasters.

“Around two thirds of Aussie homeowners believe they are responsible for ensuring their homes are adequately protected from natural disasters but, alarmingly, say they haven’t even thought about taking action,” Suncorp Insurance Product and Portfolio CEO Lisa Harrison told New Homes.

“With a boom in home renovations in recent years, we’re seeing Aussie homeowners prioritise aesthetics over protection when it comes to making improvements to their home.

“Homeowners are more willing to spend on kitchen and bathroom renos than invest in measures to withstand a flood or fire. We think it’s time to rethink what we value when it comes to our homes.”

The research showed that 62 per cent of participants opted for interior updates, 54 and 53 per cent choosing kitchen and bathroom upgrades respectively and 49 per cent looking for landscaping upgrades.

Ms Harrison said in addition to highlighting how to improve the resilience of homes and encourage homeowners, governments and industry to view resilience as a vital consideration, One House was also designed to generate conversation around building standards and the need for them to continue to be reviewed.

“We know not everyone can replicate One House, but we hope Australians – whether they are building a new house, planning a reno or even just thinking about ways they can improve the resilience of their existing home – can learn from and take on board some of the thinking and practical ideas identified through One House,” she said.

“While One House has some great recommendations for strengthening new and existing homes, in the first instance, homes need to be designed and built to suit the local environment now, and into the future.”

James Cook University Cyclone Testing Station (CTS) Research Engineer David Henderson said a great aspect of the One House design method was it used common building materials to provide a resilient outcome by considering the forces the house had to resist.

“We can all employ the same design philosophy,” he said. “For example, for severe wind storms, having robust screens or storm shutters to protect windows limits the chances of debris spearing through the window, as well as reducing the amount of wind-driven rain entering the home.”

Elements of the One House design were subjected to fire and ember attack by CSIRO, and by wind pressure, driving rain and wind-driven debris by CTS, with the tests subjecting aspects of the home to severe loading.

“For example, the wind-driven debris testing demonstrated that the system of the sliding steel mesh screens incorporating special tracks and the solid handrail was able to resist the impact from the hardwood rafter, thereby protecting the One House windows and occupants,” Mr Henderson said.

Room11 Architects Director and Architect Thomas Bailey said there was a number of key features that made the One House concept resilient, but it was important to acknowledge that at its core, the resilience came as a result of the system that tied all the elements together.

“Having one feature in isolation will not necessarily improve the building’s performance when faced with extreme weather conditions,” he said. “It must be approached holistically.

“A key feature that makes the One House more resilient is the ease of repair, reducing the need for tradespeople, which will inevitably be in high demand after an extreme weather event where people’s homes are damaged.”

For people looking to build their home and make it resilient, Mr Bailey said to ensure all fixtures, fittings and tie-downs were installed correctly during construction and to manufacturer’s specifications, and to choose elements that were easy to inspect and maintain.

“During the design process, engage with an architect and think about the possible perils your home may face, not just in the immediate future, but throughout the entire lifecycle of the building,” he said.

“Doing this also ties into the social and environmental responsibility we all share to reduce waste and increase the efficiency and lifespan of the buildings we produce.”


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