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  • #8903
    Avatarandilee
    Flatchatter

    Hi there, just wondering what my rights are in the following case:

    I recently bought a townhouse in an older development. The townhouse currently has an electrically powered, gravity fed HWS installed in the ceiling. This is now fast reaching the end of its life and needs to be replaced urgently.

    Due to new legislation, I don’t have the option to replace it with an electric HWS: I must replace it with either a gas system; a heat pump; or a solar HWS (with or without electric booster). The block is not connected to gas – to install a gas system, I would need to dig a trench approximately 500m long across driveways and through common property. A heat pump is not feasible, as the back of the unit faces south east and is in shadow most of the day. For the same reason, I can’t install a solar HWS on the back roof or garage roof. That leaves me with one option: a solar HWS on the front roof, where it is visible to the rest of the block.

    The body corporate, however, have only given me permission to install the unit if it is not visible from the common area. I’ve asked them if they could reconsider this decision several times with no reply.

    My tenants are understandably unhappy about having an old and unreliable HWS, so I need to address this urgently before they (reasonably enough!) move out, causing me a significant financial loss. What are my options?

     

Viewing 9 replies - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
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  • #18864
    AvatarWhale
    Flatchatter

    andilee et al – It sounds to me like you’ll be in somewhat of a quandary while you sort out the conflicts that exist between what your State’s sustainability regulations require (or more accurately, prohibit) and what your Body Corporate will consent.

    You will also have some issues that I’ll bet the plumbing contractors haven’t considered, like how the ≈40 year old hotwater pipework in your townhouse will cope with the transition from the around 20 kPa that it now handles from the ceiling -mounted gravity system to the average 500 kPa that it will need to cope with from a mains-pressure system?

    Have you considered refurbishing the existing hotwater system, which is probably on the now redundant / cheap off-peak tariff (or would be in NSW), and having the hotwater plumbing checked and upgraded to accept a new system post resolution of the conflicts?

    At least in that way your tenants won’t move out in the interim, and you’ll be assured that whatever new hotwater system you finish up with will just be a plug-in.

    #18863
    Sir HumphreySir Humphrey
    Strataguru

    Kangaroo said…Added to which, governments have not encouraged manufacturers to develop any aesthetic solutions for implementing solar systems generally, nor have they devoted one minute of thought to installation of sustainability equipment in the strata schemes they encourage for increased population density.

    Installation of sustainability equipment in new developments is certainly an issue. The trouble is that it tends to cost more to build but then costs less to own and run. The developer would rather build cheaper and not worry about the on-going cost. 

    At least some developers of up-market developments are including sustainable design as a selling point. I had a conversation with one developer who expressed frustration that having designed so that air-conditioning would be unnecessary, the units would not sell till air-conditioners were added. 

    In the specific case of an evacuated tube solar hot water system, these look like an innocuous black rectangle on the roof from any distance, no tank, nothing shiny. 

    #18858
    Avatarandilee
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    @Kangaroo – very good points, which I’ve already made to them. I mean, it’s not rocket surgery – all the HWSs were installed at the same time, all of them were good for about 40 years, therefore (unless by some miraculous chance mine was the very last to give out) some plumber is going to have a very happy 12 months or so going around the estate replacing HWSs.

    As far as by-laws go – I don’t disagree with the government regs, but am seriously concerned that I appear to be the only person in my BC who is not suffering from galloping senility. Should have expected it I guess – have had these issues with BCs before.

    As far as the heat pump – I figure that I’ve had three quotes from plumbers with up to 20 years experience in alternative tech and if all three reckon that my back yard is too shady (and cold!) to run a heat pump, then I reckon they should know! Certainly they don’t gain anything by telling me that, in fact it stops them making an easy sale.


    @PeterC
     – I reckon that might be the way to go. Hate to start my tenure in a block by threatening legal action against the BC, but this is complete insanity!

    #18854
    AvatarKangaroo
    Flatchatter

    Andilee,

    Two other options you might consider:

    1) Approach the EC again and point out that you are just the first townhouse to be faced with this predicament. Eventually all the others will be too. Perhaps, if they don’t like the appearance of various models of SHW panels spreading like measles across the roofs, they should bite the bullet and get the gas connected to each townhouse at communal (BC) expense.

    2) I’m not usually one to suggest subterfuge, but have you ever desired to take a quick holiday across the border and back in time to NSW where you could probably acquire one of those 20th century antiques you’re interested in?

    PeterC,

    I suspect that last suggestion does not please you. In concept I support solar power, but I have a problem with governments who impose contradictory rules, i.e. a standard By-Law about changing the “Appearance of the Lot” and then deny lot-owners the ability to replace like-for-like. Added to which, governments have not encouraged manufacturers to develop any aesthetic solutions for implementing solar systems generally, nor have they devoted one minute of thought to installation of sustainability equipment in the strata schemes they encourage for increased population density.

    #18850
    Sir HumphreySir Humphrey
    Strataguru

    …The proposed system is an evacuated tube system – you’re right, it will sit flat, but it will be clearly visible from the common area, which is the issue. …

    Well, that is pathetic. An evacuated tube system is about as innocuous as you can get. Sure, not having any kind of solar equipment is neater but what century are we in?

    The refusal is so unreasonable that I think you should be able to successfully challenge it.

    #18849
    AvatarKangaroo
    Flatchatter

    I wouldn’t dismiss a heat pump or split system heat pump.

    They work on air temperature, not sunlight, so the aspect shouldn’t matter.

     

    #18847
    Avatarandilee
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Thank you Whale, PeterC! The state is Victoria. We definitely don’t allow replacement of existing systems with like – got to be gas or solar.

    The proposed system is an evacuated tube system – you’re right, it will sit flat, but it will be clearly visible from the common area, which is the issue.

    Hope that this helps? Laugh

    #18835
    Sir HumphreySir Humphrey
    Strataguru

    In the ACT under the Unit Titles (Management) Act 2011 Rules (bylaws/Articles) are of no effect to the extent that they prevent the installation of sustainability equipment. 

    Have you suggested an evacuated tube solar hot water system? These are dark and lie flat on the roof without a prominent tank and would work with a tank where your existing one is now. This style would look better than the tank on the roof sort. 

     

    #18834
    AvatarWhale
    Flatchatter

    I don’t know which State / Territory you’re in, but so far as I’m aware electric hot water heaters (storage and instantaneous) are still permitted in existing dwellings under the BASIX system in NSW.

    If you advise your location, posts may provide more applicable advice.

     

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