Building homes in bushfire-prone areas in Australia require following specific standards, with AS 3959-2018 playing a important role in ensuring safety and compliance. These rules set strict guidelines for construction in these regions to minimise risks to both life and property.

This blog examines the "nominative" and "informative" sections of AS 3959-2018, explaining their importance and roles in the building process.

"Nominative" and "informative" are common terms found in every Australian standard. While we've referenced AS3959-2018 in this blog post for convenience, it's important to understand that these terms hold the same meaning in any Australian Standard where they are mentioned.

Understanding the words used in standards is important for readers. Whether you're putting them in policies or using them in your project, it's key to know if something is a must or just a suggestion.

Normative parts tell you exactly what to do to follow the standard or the law if it's mentioned in regulations.

Informative parts give helpful explanations or tips to help you understand. They might also suggest good ways to do things, but you don't have to follow them to meet the standard.

Overview of AS 3959-2018

AS 3959-2018, titled "Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas," outlines ways to design and build structures to resist potential bushfires. It divides these areas into different risk levels, specifying construction standards accordingly. The main goal is to reduce the damage from bushfires on homes, protecting both buildings and residents.

Nominative Sections in AS 3959-2018

Nominative sections within AS 3959-2018 outline specific, mandatory requirements that must be followed for a building to be deemed compliant.

For instance, Section 5 details the construction requirements for different Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) categories, such as the types of materials to be used for external walls, roofs, and windows. These specifications are not up for interpretation; they form the essential criteria that must be met to ensure that a building has the best chance of withstanding a bushfire.

Failure to comply with these nominative sections can result in non-certification of the building and, more importantly, a significantly increased risk during a bushfire event.

Informative Sections in AS 3959-2018

Unlike nominative sections, informative sections in AS 3959-2018 act as guides, offering extra information, explanations, and recommendations to assist in complying with the standard. They are advisory and not legally binding.

For instance, Appendix B provides guidance on calculating the Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) of a site, offering detailed methodologies and factors for assessment. These informative sections are important for understanding the reasons behind the nominative requirements and for meeting or exceeding these standards in practical ways.

Application and Importance

The interaction between nominative and informative sections in AS 3959-2018 ensures that construction in bushfire-prone areas is both compliant and well-informed.

Nominative sections set essential safety standards, while informative sections provide builders and designers with the knowledge to meet or exceed these benchmarks. This collaboration not only ensures legal compliance but also promotes a deeper understanding of bushfire-resistant construction principles, encouraging innovation and excellence in building design and construction methods.


Recognising the difference between "nominative" and "informative" sections in AS 3959-2018 is essential for those engaged in building homes in bushfire-prone regions.

This understanding guarantees that structures adhere to Australian Standards and are constructed with a well-informed approach to safety and durability. As we confront the ongoing challenges of bushfires, let AS 3959-2018 serve as our compass, combining mandatory standards with advisory insights to safeguard homes and lives effectively.