It may be important for you to know how exposed your prospective new home is to the risk of wildfires before you buy and occupy that home. This article discusses some of the risk factors that a building inspector may examine in order to establish the likelihood that the home will be grossly affected by a wildfire.
Vents on the roof, attic or crawlspace should have screens. Vents without screens can easily allow fire embers to drop into the house if there is a wildfire nearby. Wire mesh screens are ideal because they are non-combustible. However, the holes in the screens shouldn't be so small that the airflow through that vent will be constrained.
Fences can also contribute to increasing the vulnerability of the building to wildfires. For instance, wooden fences are more susceptible to wildfires than metallic fences are. However, some wooden fences are more resistant to wildfires than other wooden fences are. For example, thinner planks of wood will ignite more easily when compared to the thicker planks used to make another wooden fence. The proximity of the fence to the building is also assessed during wildfire risk inspections. Combustible fencing materials should not be in contact with the building in order to reduce the risk of a wildfire spreading to the building quickly.
Deck boards should be closely arranged so that no room is left for the fire to spread quickly. Furthermore, combustible materials, such as wood, should not be kept underneath the deck. The proximity of glass windows to the deck is also examined. Very few glass windows should be near a deck. This is because any fire that consumes the deck can cause the glass to shatter and allow the fire to enter the building through the openings created.
The siding on the building should not be combustible. This is because combustible materials can provide a path for the fire to travel vertically until it reaches other combustible materials on the building, such as the debris that has collected in the rain gutters on the roof. It is preferable for siding to be sheathed. Gaps in that siding should also be caulked.
Ask the building inspector to explain how each of the risk factors identified ranks in terms of the potential for damage in case a wildfire breaks out in your area. That information will help you to generate a list of the aspects that you should correct as a matter of urgency so that your home will be safer.
Contact local building inspections services for more information and assistance.