ABC News Online
By Nonee Walsh
People who lost homes in the New South Wales bushfires are being warned their rebuilt homes may be very different to the ones they had.
The head of the bushfire recovery is starting to plan the rebuilding process for some of the 200 homes destroyed when bushfires swept across the state last month.
"We are working to prepare people for the fact that the house they had, may not be the house that they are going to be able to rebuild," said Blue Mountains bushfire recovery coordinator Phil Koperberg.
Mr Koperberg warned that fire safety might come at an extra cost.
"Sadly it may add to the cost of rebuilding because the materials that need to be mandated, as are the designs, are more expensive than the conventional home," he said.
Mr Koperberg said steel and concrete as well as double glazing and shutters will have to be a major part of reconstructed homes.
Over the next 10 days he said asbestos from damaged buildings is being stabilised by spraying a PVC substance which prevents fibre release.
After that, registered contractors start the mammoth job of removing it from more than 160 identified sites for safe disposal.
Blocks where properties were demolished will then be cleared to allow rebuilding work to start.
"You have the complexity of people wanting to rebuild on their land — those that choose to — having to comply with stringent new fire codes which were introduced a few years ago," Mr Koperberg said.
"That invariably involves selection of building materials that are less vulnerable to destruction by fire than conventional building materials."
Disaster recovery expert Professor Edward Blakely, from the University of Sydney, warned some homes should not be rebuilt at all.
He argued that governments need to give thought to resettling areas of destruction on a region-wide basis.
But Mr Koperberg said preventing rebuilding is only a small possibility.
He said government and local authorities are doing everything possible to facilitate people returning to the Blue Mountains.
"So homeowners' insurance companies and governments are all working collectively to find a solution without jeopardising safety, which will minimise the impact on people who have lost everything".
This article was originally published at ABC News Online