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Preparing for storm season | The West Australian

The heat is subsiding and storm season appears to be officially upon us. With heavy rains set to wash over Perth, we begin to take pride in how our homes are holding up. During the Christmas heatwave in 2021, we had a sharp taste of how weather could impact our homes.

Master Builders Association of Western Australia (MBA WA) members pride themselves on strong and sturdy developments, building homes to be sustainable throughout the year.

While some issues can be out of our hands, you should not be complacent, even if your home has never been affected by storms.

There is no substitute for preparation and there is plenty that can be done to protect your home in advance. Preparing for tough weather conditions can save time, and money in the long run if you act early.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services’ State Emergency Service recommends that you clear gutters and downpipes so they don’t overflow after heavy rain. Check your roof and fences, and repair them if they are loose or damaged. In addition to this, you should always secure loose objects in sheltered areas and ensure your insurance cover is adequate.

Trim low branches to prevent them falling on your roof or car, employ professionals for larger limb lopping. Prepare an emergency kit with a portable radio, a torch, spare batteries and a first aid kit, and create an emergency plan in case you must leave your home immediately.

While these measures may seem extreme, it is pertinent everyone adapt them into their plan to prepare for storm season.

MBA WA recognises those in the building and construction industry may also be impacted by storm season. Construction sites can also suffer storm damage and delays if they are not attended to.

We urge those in the industry to secure all loose building materials and store them away, this includes rubbish, and sheds should be tied down.

If you hear a storm forecast, homeowners can take some immediate additional actions:

  • Store or weigh down loose objects around your home like outdoor furniture and children’s play equipment
  • Secure other loose items such as your wheelie bin
  • Secure boats, trailers and caravans
  • Ensure pets and animals are in a safe area
  • Move vehicles under cover
  • Prepare for possible loss of electricity
  • Check your emergency kit is in order with a portable radio, torch, spare batteries and a first aid kit

MBA WA will continue to provide advice on these matters and advocate on behalf of the building and construction industry if any natural disasters occur.

Consider becoming a member today. Speak to our membership team on 9476 9800 or email us at membership@mbawa.com to receive the latest news from MBA WA.

Q&A with MBA Housing and Construction Director Jason Robertson

The Question

I was speaking with a friend the other day; we are both currently building new homes. He mentioned thermal mass and energy efficiency. We are using different materials. This is all a bit new to me, any advice?

The Answer

In building design, thermal mass relates to a building’s material properties and its ability to store heat – in essence, it helps with fluctuations in temperature.

A key point to note is thermal mass is distinct from a building materials insulative value. In broad science terms, it reduces the buildings thermal conductivity – the ability of the building to be heated or cooled separately from the outside.

Where thermal mass is important is helping the in-home comfort in all seasonal weather. It plays a big role in significant energy-use reductions with active heating and cooling systems.

With good passive solar design principles, correct application of thermal mass is a very good move.

Thermal mass benefits are often most useable with big increases in outdoor temperature from the day through the night.

Ultimately, however, what is most important is understanding the climate zone and area you are living in and designing accordingly. This is absolutely critical to getting the best outcomes.

In terms of material selection, there are variances certainly. As a generalisation, concrete, clay brick, rammed earth (adobe construction), insulated panelling and timber (for example, logs) can all offer good thermal mass in the right circumstances.

Interestingly water itself is commonly used in some areas as a material. It is understood to have the highest volumetric heat capacity of all commonly used materials from a scientific perspective.

There is no strict right or wrong answer.

What is critical is asking questions. Your builder will provide these and all options available.

Considering our lifestyle and the climate zone you live in are great starting points to get things right.

Happy building.

CONTACT Master Builders WA, 9476 9800, www.mbawa.com

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