Rebuilding In Malibu and Ventura County – Fire Defense Pro Tips (Part 1 of 3)

Jan 11, 2019 | Blog, Design+Build, General Contractor, Malibu |

If you’re rebuilding in Malibu, fire safety must be at the forefront of your concern and attention as you begin the process of rebuilding your home. Farnsworth Builders has put together a series of pro tips when starting the rebuild process in Malibu, Ventura County or any other area prone to wildfires.

The Woolsey Fire is on track to take its place in recorded history. It will most likely go down as the worst in Malibu’s incorporated history, an area whose annals chronicle a long record of destructive wildfires.

The fire destroyed homes and buildings, wildlife, and vegetation. The area could see over $1.6 billion in total losses after the fire ate its way all the way to the coast in some cases. As many as 670 structures were consumed, with 400 single-family residences accounting for the lion’s share among them. Farnsworth Builders has partnered with Guben Architects to help you navigate the rebuilding process.

Here are some things you need to know:


As you begin the process of rebuilding your home, know there are a lot of resources out there to help you navigate the process.

First and foremost, cultivating a solid relationship with your home builder, one rooted in trust and a mutual respect, can go a long way. Your builder can help pair you with an architect, landscapers, structural engineers, and other assets that will streamline the process along the way – and ensure your home is protected from natural disaster by employing every line of defense you can manage.

Another common challenge after natural disaster can be a labor and material shortage. Count on your relationship with your home builder to help you cleanly navigate these obstacles in the most efficient way possible. Your home builder is a font of general knowledge and can help guide you all the way through the process.

Keep in mind that you can also do some independent research, and you should!

There are legalities and logistics specifically related to rebuilding after a natural disaster that are important for every homeowner to know. For example, city municipal codes can be very specific when it comes to debris cleanup on site, and removal and disposal after a fire that are relevant as you begin the process of rebuilding your home. Jump on Google and check out resources like the City of Malibu’s official site – it’s important to stay informed throughout, but especially as you embark on the process of – and begin to rebuild –  your home. Doing your research gives you a greater idea of just what your options are as you do so.



While the structure and material composition of your home is of utmost importance as you begin to rebuild when you’re considering fire safety, focusing on your home’s perimeter is also important – and can become the first foot soldier if you’re faced with natural disaster.

Talk to your home builder about hiring a landscaping firm that can provide ideas for the vegetation and landscaping around your home that can help fight a fire, should one arise. Yes, there is strategy involved when it comes to choosing the plants and vegetation surrounding your home to prevent and stunt the impact of a wildfire.

Another important consideration right out of the gate is the layout of your driveway, patio, rock, mulch and flower beds – all of which can serve as key fire breaks helping to hinder the potential progress of a wildfire before it reaches your home.



  • Some common place options are choosing fire-retardant plant species with a low sap and resin content who are high in moisture.
  • Think succulents – aloe, cacti, and rockrose. It’s also prudent to choose low growing vegetation and to plant trees that are resistant to fire. Think hardwood, maple, or cherry.
  • Employ a wider driveway design. This both serves as a fire break, and gives emergency services greater access to your home if a fire does happen.



When you’re beginning to plan and execute rebuilding your home after the devastation of a wildfire, there are several materials to choose from and architectural designs to employ that can help mitigate the damage to your home in the event of a fire.

In the event that a fire does reach your doorstep, despite the careful landscaping and site planning you’ve done, fire-resistant siding and windows and doors, metal or fire-retardant roofing, and carefully selected outdoor area materials can reinforce your bottom line when it comes to combating fire. Additionally, many of these materials lend themselves to a modern, minimalistic approach that is so carefully cultivated in custom home building trends today.

Another important consideration is investing in a top-of-the-line fire suppression system. Sprinklers, water tanks, and fire hydrants can prove the difference when it comes to preventing a total loss if you’re faced with natural disaster. While they can present as an eyesore, working with your interior designer and architect to incorporate these elements without ruining the aesthetic of your home is possible.



  • When you’re working with your contractor to plan the framing stage of your home, choose a material that is fire-resistant. Think about a heavy timber structure, a fire-resistant method that also employs an on-trend modernity and a solid durability for your structure.
  • A metal roof is an option that can give you a higher fire rating and that serves as a standard fire prevention method.  
  • Invest in insulated and tempered glass windows and doors. These materials come with a fire rating! You can check with your home builder for recommendations for the best options for fire-resistant windows and doors.



There are many other considerations a homeowner should deliberate when they begin the process of rebuilding a structure after a fire. Many times, locals will lose power for days or weeks at a time. Should you think about adding solar panels or buying an emergency generator? What kind of materials are best employed when you’re designing your outdoor living concept? Is a windbreak helpful?

All of these (and more) are questions best answered by building a team of professionals to work with that can help you navigate the process of rebuilding and give you the best possible prevention and mitigation methods should the worst come to pass. The process can seem overwhelming without the right kind of input and expert guidance. Working together, you and your team can rebuild and work to prevent another disaster.

Farnsworth partners with some of the best architects in Los Angeles and Ventura County in order to facilitate your Design Build needs as a homeowner. For more on our process or on building a custom home in Santa Monica, Malibu, Ventura County, or Los Angeles please contact us today.


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