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Bubble wrap on windows
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ficitonarchitect
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05/01/2018 - 9:16 am
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A tenant in our apartment building has put bubble/plastic wrap up on their windows. It has been there several months and looks very ugly. Can strata order for this to be removed?

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Millie
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06/01/2018 - 9:25 am
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Ficitonarchitect, do you have a copy of the Development Consent on your building?  In our case it is quite clear that nothing such as this can be attached to windows:

“All external glazing in the development must be clear and untinted.”

Check that first.  If you are in luck, ask the Strata Manager to write to the Owner seeking that their tenant complies with the DA on the property, or the matter could be referred to Council.

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Lady Penelope
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06/01/2018 - 12:02 pm
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It is debatable whether bubble wrap would be deemed as glazing. Glazing is the glass used for windows and is permanently installed. Bubble wrap is plastic, is a temporary installation rather than a permanent installation and is most likely to be taped onto the inside surface of the frame. As such it would be more akin to a curtain.

The bubble wrap could be being used for privacy or for insulation against the cold or for maximising the cooling potential of an air conditioner or for growing plants in the Lot. 

https://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/Conservation/bubblewrap.htm

Perhaps the tenant can be approached and asked the reason for the bubble wrap. The tenant might be able to be directed to seek approval from the Owner of the Lot for a blind or a curtain if privacy is an issue. 

Some By-laws contain a directive about curtaining or curtain backing being of a particular type or colour so check your by-laws to see whether this applies to your scheme.

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scotlandx
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06/01/2018 - 3:09 pm
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There is a standard by-law that provides a resident can’t keep anything inside a lot that is visible outside the lot, and is not in keeping with the rest of the building. You are likely to have one like that.

The tenant should be told to remove it.

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Lady Penelope
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06/01/2018 - 4:34 pm
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Yes. I agree with scotlandx that’s another avenue to try. From memory that particular provision was Item 17 from the model by-laws in the previous Act (1996).  I am not sure whether the new Act’s model by-laws (2015) contain this provision. Check your by-laws to verify if this provision is included. 

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JimmyT
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06/01/2018 - 4:56 pm
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Agree with all the above points.  Just present a motion to your committee (or request to your strata manager) that they issue a Notice To Comply with the appropriate by-law. 

If there is no by-law (unlikely) than they should warn the residents that they will be taking action under sections 106 (1) and (3) and 108 (5) regarding changes to common property without the appropriate approvals. 

If the committee or SM refuse to act, you can initiate action yourself, through Fair Trading.

After which your next project might be to change the committee and sack the strata manager.

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Sir Humphrey
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07/01/2018 - 10:00 am
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I might have some sympathy for the tenant.

Bubblewrap is a cheap and effective way to get the insulation benefits of double glazing while being completely reversible – important for a tenant who may have few options to improve comfort and reduce energy costs. Perhaps it is only intended to be there for the worst of the hot weather, not permanently? If the unit is hot and there is either no air conditioning or the tenant is worried about the cost of running air conditioning, this might be a very reasonable thing to have done. 

Is it possible to reach a compromise such as requiring it to come down after the worst of the hot weather or only insisting it be removed from the most visible window? 

I can afford professional double glazing and have installed a mix of profession and DIY double glazing in my unit. However, I have just a sheet of bubble wrap laying across the top of the light diffusor of a skylight to improve its insulation – there was no need to spend more for no better performance. 

Another option for the tenant is this product: https://www.clearcomfort.com.au   I recommend it highly. It is almost as good as real double glazing for thermal performance at a tiny fraction of the price (does nothing for noise). I have some I installed over 20 years ago and it is still fine. There are ways to install it reversibly which would suit a tenant. From outside you would not be able to see any change. From inside the window is virtually as good optically as an untreated window. 

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Boronia
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07/01/2018 - 12:48 pm
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A quite popular window “treatment” in Sydney, in units with large glass areas, is aluminium foil. It would probably be much more noticeable from outside than bubble wrap. And probably more effective as a heat barrier.

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Sir Humphrey
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07/01/2018 - 1:14 pm
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Boronia said
A quite popular window “treatment” in Sydney, in units with large glass areas, is aluminium foil. It would probably be much more noticeable from outside than bubble wrap. And probably more effective as a heat barrier.  

Foil against the glass would be effective for radiant heat, such as when sun shines directly in through a window. Foil does not do much for insulation without an air gap.

Bubble wrap is good for insulation against conducted heat, either to keep heat in in winter or to keep it out in summer. 

Glass is quite a good conductor of heat so if the air is 20 degrees warmer on one side than the other of a sheet of glass that might be as little as 3mm thick, you will get a lot of heat move across. The pockets of trapped air in bubble wrap act like the narrow slab of trapped air between double glazing, and that air is a much poorer conductor of heat than the glass. 

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ficitonarchitect
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08/01/2018 - 9:00 am
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Thanks for your responses. Just for clarification, the bubble wrap is on the inside of the window, but visible from the street and significantly brings down the visual aspect of the property.

In terms of feeling sympathy for the tenant, they are paying ~$750 per week in rent for their 2 bedroom apartment, so should relocate to a less expensive building if they are struggling with the cost of window covers, or ask their landlord to help out

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BONNIE L
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08/01/2018 - 12:35 pm
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Hi, I once used sunshade type roll on sheeting; very lightweight, sticks to the inside of the window, reflects against sun and shades inside. Made things a bit darker in winter, otherwise effective.  No one said anything, and a large strata plan.     

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