Published in New Homes in The West Australian on 16/05/2015
By John Gelavis
One of the benefits of building a new home is the “safety factor”. Your new home will be built to modern construction standards and codes using up-to-date materials and products, and its systems and equipment will be designed to operate effectively and safely.
Below are some of the more common safety features you can expect in a new home.
The electrical system should have only the latest approved fittings. The wiring behind the walls is brand new, the electrical service is sized to your home’s requirements and the electrical outlets have the required clearance from baths, basins and showers and any floors that may become wet.
Materials with the appropriate fire ratings should be used where required throughout the home; this is essential for preventing the spread of fire from adjoining properties. Smoke alarms should be installed as required by the Building Code of Australia, which requires alarms to be wired directly into the electrical system. This provides a more reliable source of power than battery-powered alarms. Heating systems, if fuelled by gas or solid fuel, should be adequately flued to the outside to prevent harmful vapours building up in the house.
Shower screens and side panels in shower enclosures require safety glass in the event of accidental impact. Other areas of glazing, such as glass doors and side panels at doorways and windows above baths, generally require safety glass depending on the area of glass. Glass that may be mistaken for a doorway or opening is required to be marked. All this relates to human- impact safety requirements.
Building security is important. Basic measures include deadlocks on doors and locks on windows. A security system can also be wired in at the time of construction.
Beyond building-code requirements, there are many other safety features that can be added to your home, including grab rails for the bathtub or wet areas, non-slip flooring in wet areas, adequate lighting throughout and an overall design for safe access and egress.
WA’s Liveable Homes initiative has been developed to encourage the design and building of accessible homes to meet the needs of Australia’s ageing population, families with small children and people with temporary or permanent disability. A checklist of essential requirements is available at liveablehomes.net.au.
If you have questions about the safety of any aspect of your new home, or you have specific concerns, discuss them with your builder. An HIA professional new-home builder will be able to provide answers and suggestions to make your home safe and secure for you and your family.
John Gelavis is the executive director of the WA Housing Industry Association.
Picture: Celebration Homes