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Who is responsible for pebbles
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Ziggy
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05/06/2018 - 5:10 pm
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When my apartment block was built, the developers/builders decided to cover sections of the rooftop area with pebbles although I’m not sure why. This section has always been disputed; who owns it, the lot owner or is it common property?

A few years ago, the membrane under the pebbles was repainted and the dirty pebbles returned. This was all paid for by capital works ie the the sinking fund. Now the areas around and under the pebbles is full of dirt, weeds and other city rubbish. The drains are blocked with pebbles and the rooftops fill with water when it rains.

So, who owns the pebbles and who is responsible for either removing them and/or cleaning away the weeds and rubbish? 

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scotlandx
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05/06/2018 - 6:07 pm
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Unless the roof forms part of a lot (unlikely), the pebbles and related items are the OC’s responsibility.

Put another way – who else would be responsible for them?

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JimmyT
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05/06/2018 - 7:12 pm
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FYI, the pebbles are a very effective form of temperature control for people  living in the top apartments where the roof is effectively their ceiling.  Remove the pebbles and sit back and wait for demands that you do something about the heat. 

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Ziggy
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05/06/2018 - 9:24 pm
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Thanks Scottie and Jimmy… that’s an interesting question about who owns the roof where the pebbles lie. It is an area that has been fenced off from owners; again, who knows why. The inner fencing in an illegal height and there is absolutely no fencing on the outer edge of the property, six floors above the ground below.

Funnily enough, the roof is my bedroom ceiling, so I wouldn’t complain to the owner!

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Puddn
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06/06/2018 - 9:58 am
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JT is correct – pebbles are usually there to act as heat barriers, but can also be there to protect waterproofing materials.

We have a couple of similar areas in our 4 building scheme and yearly ‘maintenance’ ensures area is kept clean and functional.

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scotlandx
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06/06/2018 - 3:32 pm
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Ziggy – if the works to the roof were paid for with OC money, it is pretty safe to assume the roof (including the pebbles) is common property.

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Ziggy
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31/07/2018 - 5:22 pm
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I have an update to this bizarre pebbles story. And some sticky questions.

At a recent strata meeting, the issue of the pebbles was on the agenda. I was told that the area where the pebbles lie, taking up about 8×4 metres, was sealed off by a fence as it was not to be used and was not safe. There is no outer balustrade to the building.

I was finally told that this was my property and therefore I had to remove the weeds and dirt myself. As the area is not safe to enter, I refused to do this adding that I asked they be removed back in 2014. I also added no tradies would enter the area as it was an OHS issue.

So where do I go from here? Do I get the OC to agree to a fence on the outer boundary? Do I get the SC to arrange for the removal of the pebbles as 1) they are on my property and 2) I had asked they not be returned there.

And what about my strata levies? Have I been paying for space I have not been allowed to use?

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Tess McGill
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02/08/2018 - 12:45 am
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Do you still have the documents relevant to your purchase of the property? A look at the plan in the Contract for Sale should inform you whether or not the roof forms part of your property or is common property. Or, ask the Strata Manager (if you have one) to explain the way levies are calculated – levies are worked out on the portion of the whole block of units that you own, and this may shed light on how much you own – so if the floor area of your unit is the same floor area of the  unit below, but your levy is  calculated as say 17% of the whole and your downstairs neighbour’s levy is 13%, then clearly you are paying for more because you own more – and the more you own might be the roof.

In my experience it would be very unusual for a unit owner to own the roof above their unit – after all, it isn’t just the roof for your unit, it’s the roof for the whole block.

The fact that the Owners Corporation used the Sinking Fund to do works on the roof the last time suggests that it is Common Property.

But either it is Common Property – and therefore the responsibility of the Owners Corporation – or it isn’t. Get a plan of your building (from your purchase document or ask your Strata Manager) and work it out.

If it fills with water and this is likely to cause damage to your unit, it may be in your best interest to pay for repairs to the roof before things get worse – and maybe sort out liability later.

I can’t see how undertaking work on your “unfenced” roof would be any more dangerous for a properly qualified roofing contractor than working on any other roof. But unless you have qualifications for working at heights, I’d suggest you keep off the roof.

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bluehouse
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03/08/2018 - 3:37 am
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Depending on the roof design the pebbles can also be to moderate the rate/way water drains from the roof.  But evidently something is going wrong if they are blocking the drains. Probably it is all the dirt and weeds in between, or a filter to stop them going in the drain is missing. It may just be that they haven’t been cleaned often enough.

I’d check with a builder or roofing contractor before I disposed of them as it may cause other problems if they are there for a good reason. 

If you are in NSW and can’t find your purchase contract, you can call Dept of Fair Trading Strata section and they can bring up your Strata Plan and tell you what your lot consists of, and what is common property.  I seem to remember that when I consulted them they rang back after they ordered up the file, so it may have involved a day or two delay to get my answer.

You can probably find information about the levies you pay compared to others from financial information in the Owners Corporation AGM agenda and use that as Tess has described.

As others have said it seems unlikely it is your responsibility, but check to be sure.

Roofing contractors can do the work for you even if you don’t have a fence or balustrade – they will use a harness if necessary.

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Ziggy
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03/08/2018 - 5:02 pm
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Thanks so much everyone. Yes, the “balcony” is a roof over the units below, including mine. But it is also an extension of my upstairs balcony. I’ll try Fair Trading as the SM is not very helpful.

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