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Mounting Gas Water Heater to External Wall
Frida Kay
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31/08/2013 - 3:54 pm
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Howdy Flat Chat,

The liberty that owners take….. the owners on ground level  installed a gas water heater to an external wall in common property. Instead of installing the water heater in their exclusive use garden area walls it was placed about 2 meters above ground in the common garden area.

What an eye sore!!!!!

 At the recent OC meeting I asked “Why this was placed on a common wall”, “There is no notation in Body Corporate minutes permission was sought or even granted”, And “If it was to remain insitu- it should be covered/camouflaged at the owners expense.”

The reply by the owners was babble about their old water heating exploding, blah, blah, We asked permission didn’t we? more babble, babble, babble…. next item on the agenda.

Body Corporate meetings are painful enough but to have seemingly no regard for items brought to the table is really frustrating.

What’s the rule for mounting ugly white goods on common property walls?

Thanks for input.




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31/08/2013 - 6:38 pm
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caj – in the first instance, the Owners need to be informed that by drilling or otherwise attaching their hotwater heater to the Common Property and consequently by changing the visual appearance of that Common Property, they have breached By-Laws 5 and 17, and the Owners Corporation (O/C) could require them to reinstate its Property by removing theirs and repairing all surface damage.

That’s the hard-line but on the assumption that the Owners are prepared to cooperate, the easier and indeed customary approach would be for the O/C to require the Owners to retrospectively seek its Consent to alter, add, or in this case attach a new structure to the Common Property.

That request should be in writing, and it should be put before a General Meeting in the form of a Motion seeking a Special Resolution to create and register a Special By-Law permitting those Owners and any others who may at some future time wish to install a hotwater heater on the Common Property to do so, with standard conditions such Owners being responsible for the on-going maintenance, repair, and replacement of their property, acceptable installation locations, covering/camouflaging, lagging of hot water pipes (for safety).

The Special Resolution can only pass if ≥75% of those Owners present at the Meeting (personally & by proxy) vote in favour by lot unit entitlement, and ideally any resultant Special By-Law should cover any type of hotwater heater that the O/C is prepared to allow on its Common Property (e.g. storage tanks on the ground, solar on the roof), where, and under what conditions such those mentioned above.

The Owners who have done the wrong thing should be made to pay the O/C’s costs to convene the General Meeting, but as all Owners could conceivably benefit from the Special By-Law, the O/C should cover the preparation and registration costs.

And if they don’t cooperate……post again and I’m sure you’ll receive some practical advice about how your O/C should manage that potentially messy situation. 

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10/05/2018 - 11:48 pm
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I have a related query [hope it’s ok to add it here rather than starting a new post]: 

Neighbours on the ground floor of my apartment building are proposing a kitchen renovation that would include (among other things) moving the gas hot water heater for their apartment from inside the kitchen to an external wall. They are going about it correctly: have drafted a by-law and sought an EGM, which will be soon.

My question as a strata newbie is about how and when best to raise my concerns about the gas hot heater location. 

The neighbours are proposing “relocating the hot water heater to the wall outside the kitchen area above the window”.

My understanding is that there are manufacturer rules (and perhaps more general building codes as well) for installing these appliances. In particular, they can’t be 150cm vertically from any openable window, which would actually preclude it from being placed above their own kitchen window (and below their upstairs neighbours’ window) since there wouldn’t be the necessary 3+ metres clearance between the two floors. It’s also my understanding that the heater would have to be placed so that it can be accessed without need for a ladder or scaffold, which also rules out what they’re proposing. 

Meanwhile, placing the heater at their window height would probably run into horizontal-distance-to-windows/corners rules. 

The other problem is that the wall in question is adjacent to a fairly narrow path (about 150cm wide, running between the back wall of the building and the back fence) that is the main way of accessing our apartments for all residents. So this heater would intrude fairly significantly (30cm?) into a frequently used pathway and could even be considered a hazard. 

Is this a matter I should raise in advance of the strata EGM or at the meeting itself? Should I communicate my concern to the strata manager or is that “not their job”?
The by-law doesn’t specify the model or type of heater: is it reasonable to ask about that level of detail or to request evidence that what is planned won’t break any installation rules?

I’ll be candid: I think it’s a bad idea. The building is an old one (late 1930s) and while not heritage listed, it is in a heritage conservation area. The addition of a white excrescence to the exterior brickwork – even if it is at the back of the building – in a location that all residents would have to walk past and look at every day, is not an appealing proposition. But personal taste and preference aside, I think there are genuine practical concerns and I’m not sure how best to raise them. 

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11/05/2018 - 8:59 am
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Erte said
Is this a matter I should raise in advance of the strata EGM or at the meeting itself? Should I communicate my concern to the strata manager or is that “not their job”?

It certainly is the strata manager’s job, if only because they seem to be acting as the strata scheme’s secretary.

Raising your issues before the meeting gives the applicant the chance to address the problems and offer remedies.  It also will lower their potential frustration at feeling they have been ambushed.

However, they need to know that an AGM or EGM isn’t an automatic rubber stamp.  The decision has to be properly considered and evaluated.  In a small scheme you only need the support (or proxy) from one or two other owners to make sure this proposal doesn’t go through “on the nod”.

And yes, you are entitled to ask about the model of the heater, its position, size, colour and how it will look from outside.  You and your fellow owners are under no obligation to allow the cheapest option.

Talk to your strata manager about your concerns before the meeting.

Sir Humphrey

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14/05/2018 - 8:40 pm
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Sometimes it is reasonable to allow certain things to be on outside walls. However, in this case, it sounds like a problem we have where I live. Various barnacles like gas water heaters and air-con compressors get put on the outside where everyone else has to look at them and not on the inside where the unit owner would have to look at them. 

Typically this happens for several reasons. 

1) The unit owner is selfish and prefers to have them out of sight except to everyone else. If it went inside, it would occupy some space that the owner would prefer to use for something else. It might require a slight rearrangement of the garden furniture, for example. 

2) The unit owner might be a bit more sensitive but won’t stand up to an installer who says ‘We always put them on the outside wall.’ Usually that is because the installation is much easier and slightly cheaper, but it could have gone inside the unit area if the owner had stood up to the tradie. 

3) The unit owner is acting in haste because they have no hot water and just do what the tradie says. Often the tradie will tell them that they don’t need permission. Of course the tradie wants to get on with the job so they are hardly motivated to explain the operation of the relevant strata act. 

4) The unit owner looks around and sees another example of a barnacle on the outside and makes the self-serving assumption that the other installation must have been approved, or, if not, nobody has done anything about it so, obviously, you can get away with it. 

5) It doesn’t occur to them that they need to ask permission from anyone and, if they do need to ask, then they find that an offensive affront to their views on civil liberties etc. 

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