Internal Wall Crack Repair | Common Property | Flat Chat Forum: Your Questions Answered




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Internal Wall Crack Repair
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david2708
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06/07/2017 - 11:10 am
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Have received a request from an owner  for repair of cracks on their internal wall. The building is double brick with a cavity.

The builder talks about moisture build up due to poor ventilation in the subfloor and lack of vents in general. Speculates that the grass section area on the external wall may have become drenched with rain overtime(like 50 years worth!) and affected the wall etc.

I  would have thought the internal wall is the responsibility of the owner.

Since the building was built to a standard when it was constructed, is the OC liable to install further vents etc?

His other reasons also seem speculation rather than fact.

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Lady Penelope
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06/07/2017 - 12:50 pm
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david2708 - If you live in NSW then the repair to the crack on the interior of an exterior boundary wall will generally be an OC responsibility to repair. 

See this table from the Office of Fair Trading: 

"If there is no Common Property Memorandum, the following will generally apply.

Part of the property

Who is responsible? 

Ceiling Owners corporation must repair anything in the ceiling However, there may be instances where the owner is liable if they have made improvements to the ceiling.
Walls Owners corporation must repair anything in the boundary walls. The owner must repair all walls within the lot.
Carpets The owner must repair and maintain carpets in the lot. The owners corporation repairs and maintains common property carpets, such as carpets in the hallways.
Light fittings If it is recessed in the ceiling, it is the owners corporation's responsibility. If it hangs into the lot, it is the owner's responsibility.
Roller door of garage Repairs to the boundary roller doors are owners corporation responsibility.
Balcony Balconies are generally the responsibility of the owners corporation.
The installation of vents may be something that the OC may consider worthwhile, albeit that the OC may not legally be required to do so. The cost of continuing to maintain the interior of the exterior boundary wall may end up being more burdensome than the cost of installing vents. 
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david2708
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08/07/2017 - 11:05 am
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The boundary wall consists of essentially the exterior brick wall, a cavity and the interior wall. I wonder whether the interior wall is also classified as the exterior boundary wall. The report said the cracks were considered 'fair movement cracks given the age of the building'.

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JimmyT
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08/07/2017 - 12:00 pm
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The inside part of your double brick exterior wall is still common property.  It's just the way it's constructed. Your individual responsibility starts at the first molecule of the first coat of paint on the inside of the wall.

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scotlandx
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09/07/2017 - 12:36 pm
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The walls are common property.  You will find with almost all buildings with walls of this type the plaster on the walls will develop cracks over time, due to movement in the building and weather conditions.  From experience there is not much you can do about it, while you can attempt to fill a crack or plaster over it and repaint, it will just come back again.  I think that is what david2708 means by "fair movement cracks".

I had recurring cracks in my kitchen wall and the only way to stop them returning was to insert construction joins, which means you have slight grooves in the wall.  But those cracks were pretty significant.

The key issue here is to determine what is causing the cracks in the wall.  If it is a defect in the common property such as inadequate drainage around the area, or subfloor drainage or something like that, then it is the OC's responsibility to investigate and take any steps necessary to rectify.  However, you should get a qualified person in to do those investigations and issue a report with recommendations.  That is the first step.  david2708 is right - you can speculate about the reasons why a wall is cracking but that doesn't mean anything.

There is no point in fixing a crack in the wall if the underlying cause (if any) isn't addressed.

If there is a defect in the common property causing the issue then it is up to the OC to fix it, the fact that the property was constructed to standard at the time doesn't mean anything in this case.  

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david2708
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10/07/2017 - 8:14 pm
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I am wondering whether I should get out a structural engineer to give me a report rather than the one given by the  building company with a vested interest in the job? I suspect that there are other problems in the unit that the owner will want to pin on a foundation problem and want them done as well-and then sell the unit. I have no idea how much getting one will cost and if it's worth the bother. The building was built in the 60's.

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Lady Penelope
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10/07/2017 - 8:56 pm
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david2708 - I would be asking that the OC pay for the structural engineer's report on the common property problems. A builder is not qualified to assess whether there are structural problems, though they may be able to take a good guess at it.

As far as costs go ... I paid $770 for a structural engineer's report on my 2 BRM unit when I wanted to take down a few non structural wall and change my bathroom formats. A structural engineer's report was a requirement of my OC's by-laws. It was well worth it as all has been approved! 

It would make things easier for your engineer if you have the original structural drawing plans of your building. Does your Strata Manager have these on record?

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david2708
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10/07/2017 - 9:15 pm
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Not sure about the drawing plans but will follow up. Next will be to find a structural engineer. No idea whether they are a dime a dozen, just get a local one, go through Hipages etc.

Unfortunately our strata committee is more or less a committee of one-me-and a few others with zip interest in anything. I have discovered I have to be a pseudo expert on everything.

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scotlandx
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11/07/2017 - 9:10 am
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Yes of course the OC should get an expert report, that way the OC is in control of the issue.  As you say the owner's builder has a vested interest, as does the owner.  If it is an OC matter, then the OC should have control of how it is managed - in most cases it will save you a lot of money in the long run.

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david2708
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21/09/2017 - 7:43 pm
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Have received report from structural engineer.

He states "wall cracks are mainly due to foundation movement as well as some load stress from upper level.....cracks observed are fine, repaired previously and would generally be considered non structural...normally just filled and repaired when unit is repainted....prior proposed crack stitching in an excellent repair method but more often used and suited for larger structural cracks"

My inclination is to deny the extensive stitch repair but who then is responsible for the  cosmetic repair on the internal boundary wall. A mere fill and repaint.

As a contrast, I have another unit that has developed a 1 cm wide crack in the internal wall around the window frame. I would consider that more appropriate for major repair.

Another aspect I have gained from the report on that matter and others is that the problems are inherent and typical of the position of the unit within the building structure and it's directional aspect.

To me those are somewhat knowns when you purchase such a property and reflected in the price you pay for it.

I get the impression that some owners buy the 'worst' position unit in the block, pay the lower appropriate price but then expect the OC to pay to make it somehow premium. If you buy the unit that doesn't get any sunlight, then you cant expect other owners to fork out money when you claim you have damp issues etc. because of a lack of sunlight etc.

You are going to get these sorts of issues. Other units wont due to their level and position in the structure and they paid a pretty penny for that.

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Ziggy
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27/09/2017 - 5:29 pm
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Does that include cracks to internal walls on a lift shaft?

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