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Balcony height out of date.
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Panorama102
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26/08/2017 - 1:03 pm
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We own a unit, built in the '70's,  which has balcony railings below the current approved standard height. For safety reasons we are wanting to add toughened glass panels behind the existing railings so that the balcony railing will be at the current approved standard height.

New regulations require that a metal strip be added along the top of the glass panels. We have designed the distance of the strip along to top to mirror the spaces between each horizontal railing already existing.

We need approval from the Body Corporate. We have been told that the residents don't want the 'look' of the building to change and that our new glass panels and metal strip will do just that.

We are on the 5th floor of an 8 floor building. The top Unit replaced the railings entirely with framed glass panels some years ago. It is the only Unit in the block to have made any changes to the balcony increasing the railing height. That Unit has changed hands twice since.

Is it absolutely necessary,i.e.mandatory, to have the metal strip along the top of the finished height of the toughened panels?

Can the Body Corporate deny our request to increase the height of the balcony railings for safety reasons as described?

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JimmyT
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26/08/2017 - 1:54 pm
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The owners corp can deny you permission to change the balustrade for any reason, including aesthetics.  However, if it is for safety reasons they would have to be pretty sure of their ground.

Even then, you can challenge an owners corp ruling at the Tribunal (NCAT) if you think it is ill-founded, unreasonable or unfair.  Submit your application and if they refuse, start proceedings by asking for a  mandatory mediation at Fair Trading before proceeding to Section 232 orders at NCAT.

Meanwhile, it might be worth quietly telling someone on the committee that this is what you plan to do - not as a threat but so that they know what they are getting into if they refuse.

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Cosmo
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26/08/2017 - 3:38 pm
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I have a document exactly on this issue.  I got it from a google search when

Basically it says you should bring the railings up to current code if there has been any work on it.  It strongly suggests that if there are safety issues this should also be done.

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JimmyT
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26/08/2017 - 3:45 pm
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A word of caution, that document is dated 2004.

But the basic principal applies - elements of the building aren't intrinsically unsafe just because the code had changed.  But if you have to repair or replace them, or do any work adjacent to them, you have to bring them up to code. 

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JonH
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17/09/2017 - 3:45 pm
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You don't need to have a metal strip on top of the glass provided the thickness of the glass is correct.  You need to check with a glass balcony specialist to ensure you can have frameless in your situation.  The specialists advised me the code was altered around 2007 to allow framless glass.  

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Panorama102
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17/09/2017 - 6:34 pm
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Thank you Jimmy T for your valuable advice on this matter.

My husband attended a special Body Corporate meeting to put our case for glass panels on the Balcony at the current standard height. When it appeared likely that we would continue with our request with Fair Trading, as you mentioned, we were given unanimous permission to go ahead with the work.  To be fair everyone was surprised how much our Balconies did not conform to current safety standards , especially having three 'ladder like' elements as the railing.

Thank you JonH for your input. Our Balustrade Company said that a continuous metal  top rail is now the new standard if single glass panels are used. The reason behind this is that if a panel fails someone doesn't fall, having the rail to protect them somewhat.

Delighted with your assistance Jimmy T. And now very relieved Grandparents.

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