FR5 Software

FirstRate5® house energy rating software

FirstRate5® is an easy-to-use interactive tool with a graphic user interface that enables designers and thermal performance assessors to generate energy ratings for a home by tracing over floor plans. The software integrates the AccuRate calculation engine to estimate the annual heating and cooling energy and can be used to rate an existing design or as an interactive tool to optimise the design beyond compliance.

Release of FirstRate5 v5.2.10 (3.13)

by FR5 | Dec 07, 2018
FirstRate5 v5.2.10 (3.13) is now available as a free download from www.fr5.com.au. Full release details can be found in the software release notes, which can be opened by clicking ‘Release Notes’ under the ‘Help’ menu in FirstRate5 (FR5).

This new version contains a number of new major features, smaller enhancements and bug fixes. The main items included are outlined below.

The FR5 User Manual has been updated to incorporate the new items included in FR5 v5.2.10 (3.13). Page references have been included below to help users locate the updated information in the manual  and learn how to use the new features.

A video that provides an introduction to the new software features is now available. Over the coming weeks, Sustainability Victoria will release a set of more in depth instructional videos further explaining the new software features.

Introduction of Floor Builder and update to how floor connections are specified (Refer to Tasks 9-12 in the FR5 User Manual)
A Floor Builder has been developed to allow users to build their own custom floors and develop and manage libraries of custom floors. The new Floor Builder is similar to the existing Wall Builder. This new feature overhauls the way FirstRate5 handles floor constructions and floor connections.

The introduction of the Floor Builder has also changed the way floor connections are specified. Users will need to specify for each area the type of connection beneath the floor. The ‘Connect floor’ drop-down list has been expanded and the ‘Subfloor ventilation’ list is only activated if the floor area is specified as connecting to subfloor. 

Two guidance notes  have been developed explaining the use of the Floor Builder how to upgrade project files. See Guidance Note 3 and Guidance Note 4 on the FR5 website. 

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT UPGRADING PROJECT FILES

All floor insulation in existing projects will be removed during the upgrade to FR5 v5.2.10 (3.13), with the exception of waffle pod  floor types. Users will need to review and manually update all floor insulation after the upgrade process is completed. This is due to the fundamentally different way FR5 v5.2.10 (3.13) deals with floors compared to earlier versions and it is not possible to carry all information across to the upgraded file.

After the upgrade process, users will also need to ensure that floor connection values are specified correctly for each floor area. If this value is not correctly specified the upgraded file may fail to calculate or generate a different star rating result.

Refer to Guidance Note 3 for information about upgrading project files.

Sustainability Victoria recommends users save a copy of all project files before upgrading then to FR5 v5.2.10 (3.1.3) to ensure a reference copy is available. 

Improved importing and handling of backgrounds from PDF files (Refer to Task 1 in the FR5 User Manual)
Improvements have been made to the way FR5 imports and handles backgrounds from PDF files. The main improvements are as follows:

  • Multiple pages from a PDF file can now be imported and this allows for the use of multiple backgrounds in a project file.
  • PDF backgrounds can be rotated during the import process.
  • Backgrounds can be switched on a level.
  • Snappable points can be identified in vector PDF files to allow for faster and more accurate drawing over backgrounds.
Align and scale backgrounds (Refer to Tasks 2 & 3 in the FR5 User Manual)

The following improvements have been made to the way FR5 aligns and scales backgrounds.  

  • New tools have been developed to streamline the background alignment process.
  • A newly introduced ‘Dimension’ tool is now used to set the scale of backgrounds and as drawn elements.

Other items
A number of other smaller items have also been included in this latest release :

  • Dimension tool (Refer to Task 2 in the FR5 User Manual) - Introduction of a new Dimension tool which can be used to place dimension lines on the drawing canvass. This tool has been added to the left-hand side menu on the Plan tab    
  • Customisable grid size (Refer to page 42 in the FR5 User Manual) - The default grid size on the drawing canvass is 250mm, however, users can specify a range of grid sizes from 100mm to 3000mm. This is enabled by right clicking on the drawing canvas on Plan  tab and selecting ‘Set Grid Size’.
  • Display of line lengths -  FirstRate5 can now display the length of lines as they are drawn on the drawing canvas. This feature is enabled by right clicking on the drawing canvas on the Plan tab and selecting 'Display Drawing Line Length'. 
  • Raked Wall Helper (Refer to page 119 in the FR5 User Manual) - A 'Raked Wall Helper' has been added to the wall Properties section and the Zoning tab. This new tool calculates the new average wall height for a raked wall and eliminates the need for users to manually calculate the average wall height of raked walls.
  • Sorting of walls and floors  (Refer to pages 18-19 in the FR5 User Manual) -  In the Construction Libraries tab users can now sort Wall/Floor Libraries by date added or alphanumeric order. The sort functionality is available for the whole library or the individual folders. In the Construction Types tab, users can sort by code or length/area used.
  • Project Checkpoint & Snapshot (Refer to pages 10 & 97 in the FR5 User Manual) -  The undo functionality has been replaced with Save Project Checkpoint and Save Snapshot features. Project Checkpoint is a temporary saved point in a project that users can revert to. This new functionality can be accessed by clicking Edit in the File menu.  A Snapshot is a saved file that is stored in the same directory as the original project file. Save Snapshot functionality can be accessed by clicking File on the File menu. The advantage of the new features is users now have full control over the restore points they wish to create.
  • Reset Level Alignment Point position  (Refer to Task 39 in the FR5 User Manual) – If the Level Alignment Point (LAP) is moved on a level it can now be reset to its original positon by clicking the Alignment Points button the left-hand side menu on the Plan tab and selecting ‘Reset Level Alignment Point Position’. This is particularly useful if the LAP needs to be temporarily moved when mirroring as drawn information.
  • Postcode mismatch alert -  A warning message has been added to alert users to instances where the dwelling postcode and the climate zone postcode do not match.  The warning can be dismissed if the mismatch is intentional.

Transition Arrangements for FR5 v5.2.10 (3.1.3)

Until 6 March 2019 (5pm) a transition period will be in place. During this period both v5.2.9 (3.1.3) and v5.2.10 (3.1.3) files will automatically calculate on the FirstRate5 website.

After 6 March 2019 (5pm) v5.2.10 (3.13) files will continue to automatically calculate on the FirstRate5 website, however v5.2.9 (3.13) files will calculate by special request only.

For more information on FirstRate5 visit www.fr5.com.au, submit a query through the online contact form or email support@fr5.com.au.

Note: It is the user’s responsibility to ensure certificates are produced with the appropriate version. If a user chooses to inappropriately use an earlier version of FR5 to produce a certificate, they run the risk that a Building Surveyor will reject the certificate leading to further certificate costs.

Note: Installation of minor releases involving a letter change, eg, v5.2.2b to v5.2.2c, will by default overwrite the previous version, while major releases involving a number change, eg, v5.2.3 (3.13) to v5.2.4 (3.13), will by default install beside older versions.

Note about unsubscribing from Notice emails:  FirstRate5 Notice emails are infrequent but contain important information critical for all FirstRate5 users and account holders (e.g. version upgrades). It is mandatory for all FirstRate5 account holders to receive Notice emails. If you no longer use your FirstRate5 account you may disable it by logging into your account and editing your account details here. After logging into your account click on ‘Click Here to edit information located on the home page’. Then click on ‘Click Here to disable your account’ located under the ‘Save’ and ‘Cancel’ buttons. If you have forgotten your password you can reset your password on the FirstRate5 website.

Please note that disabled accounts are not deleted from the system and may be re-enabled in the future by emailing support@fr5.com.au.

Preferences for other types of FirstRate5 emails, eg, Newsletters, Certificate Delivery Emails, Credit Expiry Warnings, Job Deletion Warnings, etc, may be changed here.