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How to make your home climate resilient

By  AAMI

Global heating is shaping the way we live. The specific challenges posed by extreme weather events will vary by climate, so it’s worth considering the ways you could be affected and how to build or retrofit your home to mitigate the impact.

What is climate resilient housing?

Climate resilient housing is built, or retrofitted, to withstand the extreme weather events associated with global heating, such as bushfires or storms. Generally, housing in Australia is designed to meet minimum building codes that can mitigate damage caused by extreme weather. However, resilient homes usually exceed these codes.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute notes that ‘Australia’s National Construction Code (NCC) doesn’t include any specific reference to climate change adaptation.’1 It’s advocating for the inclusion of global heating provisions when the NCC is updated in 2022.

If you’re in the process of building, or retrofitting your home, you may find it more useful to consult building codes at a state or territory level — because they’ll more accurately reflect climate conditions — and work with an architect or builder to achieve climate resilient outcomes.

How to improve your home’s resilience to climate change weather events

Bushfires

A few ways to retrofit your home to improve its resilience to bushfire include:

  • Covering exterior openings with non-combustible materials to stop embers getting in.
  • Using metal insect screens to cover windows.
  • Reducing the amount of fuel around your home, by keeping your garden tidy, cleaning your gutters or removing unused outdoor furniture.

Though improving your home in these ways might mitigate bushfire risk, it won’t eliminate it. So, if you live in a bushfire-prone area it’s important to have an up-to-date survival plan. Your local fire service will have free resources to support you. Find out how fireproof your plan is.

Floods

Though it’s impossible to control rainfall, you can build or retrofit your home to be resilient to flooding. You might consider using building materials that can tolerate water. For example, polished concrete flooring, rendered concrete walls, and cabinets that can be shifted in the event of heavy rain. Large doors are another useful feature of flood resilient homes because they allow water to flow through a house, if necessary.

Before you make any changes, speak with an architect or builder. And if you’re planning on retrofitting your existing home, check your insurance policy to understand your coverage. Most insurers — including AAMI — won’t provide cover for any work undertaken in your house, such as building extensions, alterations or renovations. So, you’ll need to confirm your property is covered by your contractor’s insurance.

Storms

Aussies are no strangers to severe storms, which can produce hail, heavy rain, strong winds and thunder and lightning. Like bushfires and flooding, there are ways you can increase your home’s resilience to storms. Be sure to:

  • keep your downpipes, gutters and drains clear
  • remove any tree branches that hang over your house, and
  • secure your roof and any loose items, like furniture, around your home.

For more tips, take a look at our guide to preparing your home for storms.

Does home insurance cover climate resilient housing?

Home insurance will cover your climate resilient home in an insured event, provided your policy’s sum insured is adequate. AAMI’s insurance policies, like Home Building Insurance, usually have a set sum insured, which is agreed upon by you and AAMI. It’s the most AAMI will pay you in the event of a claim. However, for greater peace of mind, you could consider adding Complete Replacement Cover as an optional cover. With this optional cover, you won't have a set sum insured limit for rebuilding your house. Once your claim is approved, we'll repair or rebuild your house as it was, or pay you the amount of the assessed quote to repair or rebuild it. This can help you avoid being underinsured if building costs increase, due to things like demand for trades or material prices spiking.

More about Complete Replacement Cover

Read more:


1 https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/adapting-australias-national-construction-code-to-climate-change/

Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 AFSL 230859 (AAI) trading as AAMI. Any advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situation or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it. Please read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before you make any decision regarding this product. The Target Market Determination is also available.

The information is intended to be of a general nature only. We do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss incurred as a result of reliance upon it – please make your own enquiries.