There’s nothing more exciting than building your next home, but with it comes a fair share of hurdles. You may think that purchasing windows is as simple as finding ones that suit your look and rolling with it, but there are areas to consider before you get to work to ensure you don’t have to spend money fixing easy to avoid mistakes.
In Australia there are standards and regulations that need to be followed when building and renovating properties. All window manufacturers are required to meet building code standards that are set within the Building Code of Australia.
Getting your head around these can be tougher than it sounds, which is why we’re here to help with this quick guide to areas of compliance in our industry.
How to know if windows comply
All Australian window manufacturers are required to comply with Australian standards and must be able to verify this upon request with a certification of compliance, so making sure your windows comply is relatively straight forward when dealing directly with a manufacturer.
Under the Building Code of Australia, window manufacturers are required to produce windows and doors that meet mandatory minimum specifications under Australian Standard (AS) 2047 – including AS1288. Windows made from timber, aluminium, uPVC or other materials must undergo the following performance tests to verify product performance claims to AS2047:
AS4420.2 Deflection Test – positive and negative wind pressures are applied to the face of the window to test the maximum deflection under wind load.
AS4420.3 Operating Force Test – to verify that an opening sash is capable of opening and closing.
AS4220.4 Air In filtration Test – the air leakage of a window is tested to ensure energy and acoustic efficiency.
AS4420.5 Water Penetration Resistance Test – to verify that no water leaks through the window into the building.
AS4420.6 Ultimate Strength Test – negative and positive wind pressures are applied to the window to ensure it does not fail in unusual wind conditions.
These standards are upheld to maintain that products meet a degree of quality. Anything that doesn’t match these standards can be considered non-compliant and could be unsafe to use.
As we’ve already discussed, energy efficiency is important for your home due to the savings you receive on bills – but did you know that there is a minimum energy efficiency rating that needs to be met for new builds?
The minimum number of energy efficiency stars that needs to be met is six in Victoria, which will increase to a seven star requirement within the next three to four years.
To provide some clarity on this difference – according to the Victorian Building Authority, six star homes could use 24 per cent less energy than five star homes, potentially saving 100s of dollars on annual energy bills.
So keep a look out for stars when you go window shopping (as in shopping for literal windows, not looking at expensive clothes) and be sure that your home matches current standards.
Bush fire safe
If your home is being constructed within a bushfire prone area, there are extra levels of compliance for you to consider.
Under Australian Standards, bushfire prone areas are divided into bushfire attack levels (BAL) that assess likelihood of potential ember, radiant heat and direct flame contact with the building. The six levels are:
- BAL-LOW – very low risk
- BAL-12.5 – low risk
- BAL-19 – moderate risk
- BAL-29 – high risk
- BAL-40 – very high risk
- BAL-FZ – extreme risk
Each BAL level will have different areas to comply with, but in doing so there are two ways to satisfy the standards.
The construction can either comply with standards that apply to all constructions within a bushfire zone, or alternatively – protective designs can be used that meet the performance requirements.
For windows you can also satisfy specifications by using bushfire shutters, metal frames or windows that meet simulated bushfire tests.
If you’re unsure what is suitable for your home in any area of compliance relating to windows and doors, be sure to ask the friendly team at Accent Windows, they can help you make informed decisions throughout this exciting process.