Retrofitting for wildfire resilience: what is the cost?
Wildfires impact upon populations where development has occurred within or adjacent to natural vegetation. Even with extensive management interventions in the landscape, wildfires will continue to impact upon some properties. Residents in wildfire prone areas need to prepare themselves and their properties. Studies have found cost is one of the main reasons there is a generally low level of preparation by residents. In this study, we quantify the cost for residents to prepare themselves and retrofit their property for wildfire in an intermix and interface community. We combine this with semi-structured interviews to identify limitations to preparedness and willingness to contribute to a shared cost scheme with local government. Wide variation in the level of preparedness was found for the five case study homes in the intermix area and the five in the interface area with intermix houses being better prepared than those at the interface. All buildings were found not to comply with any building standards for wildfire resilience, despite most being considered to have the highest level of wildfire exposure. The total up-fronts cost to prepare residents and their homes ranged from approximately $8500 to $47,000 with an average of $24,600. Based on these figures, the financial investment required was significantly higher than residents felt they were able to cover. Ultimately, the choice to live in a wildfire-prone area will always involve the acceptance of some risk, regardless of the construction of the property and preparedness of the household.