Balcony Ins and Outs

In recent years, Sydney has gone balcony crazy with residential blocks being designed with that “resort lifestyle” in mind. It’s a fairly recent trend. Contrast Harry Seidler’s Blues Point Tower with his Horizon; one is all block and no balcony, the other the exact opposite (yet both equally easy on the eye).

The odd thing with balconies on new blocks is that they aren’t really part of the apartment at all. Apart from a few exceptions, they are still part of common property and that means you can’t do whatever you want there.

The most obvious issue, in every sense, is drying laundry. It’s in almost every set of building by-laws this is a no-no, presumably because no-one wants the outside of Sydney buildings to look like an underwear warehouse just got a direct hit from a cyclone. That’s why most new apartments have a tumble dryer already installed. I wonder how aesthetics will stack up against the environment when someone works out how much power we could save by drying our smalls in the sun.

Other usual restrictions are on storing bicycles (a favourite), surfboards (ditto), furniture and anything else that suggests you have more stuff than space. Some buildings even specify the type of furniture you can have and most will not allow you to alter the appearance of the balcony in any significant way.

There are even rules on what you can and can’t do on your balcony: you probably can’t sit there till two in the morning noisily entertaining or even quietly strumming Cat Stevens songs (the ASIO choppers will wake the neighbours). And you shouldn’t chuck stuff off the balcony, especially lit cigarette ends – it’s fairly obvious why, yet so many people do it.

And then there’s barbecues. Yes, I know I’ve said it before, and I’m unAustralian and all that, but until somebody comes up with a proper safety code and a way of saving the people upstairs from carcinogens from burnt meat, there’s no place for them on our balconies. But your building, like mine, may disagree.

How strictly these issues are policed varies from building to building. I did a quick spot check on a block of units in Coogee the other day and counted four bikes, four laundry drying racks, two sofas, three surfboards and a beer fridge, any of which would have had our building manager pounding on our door.

Jimmy’s Mailbox

Jimmy, my wife and live in a five-year-old development and our unit is affected by noise from the venting air fans for the whole building. These fans operate 24 hours every day and an independent test shows noise in all our rooms exceeds the current building standard. Our Executive Committee have deferred this problem to the developer who has taken years to agree to accept any responsibility. What can I do? This is disturbing us every night.

Geoff, Waverton

Sounds like a clear building defect so you need to move quickly – the time limit on reporting defects is seven (NB: Now SIX) years. I would get on the Office of Fair Trading immediately. It will then cost you around $60 to get an arbitration but that will be legally binding. Or you could get in touch with a specialist Strata lawyer – it will be a lot more expensive but at least you’ll be able to sleep.

One Reply to “Balcony Ins and Outs”

  1. WRF says:

    Hi, what about people walking around the whole time in undies on their balcony ? Is that not a form of indecent exposure? What conduct by-law does or should that come under? Is there not a dress-code of some sort ?

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