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  • #59550


    I’m in a small block of six units in NSW with a pre-1974 registered plan and am currently the secretary of the strata committee of the self-managed scheme. I have recently been asked by the real estate agent representing a lot owner if they are allowed to replace the current 50 litre hot water service tank with a 160 litre tank (dimensions 530mm x 1300mm) and relocate it externally onto the balcony. My understanding is the tenants want a larger hot water tank but the owner does not want it inside the laundry. I feel that this would be considered a major work and therefore require a separate by-law because it involves: the common property (the wall between the lot and the balcony); the alteration of existing plumbing; affixing the hot water tank to the balcony (will the tank be too heavy when full of water); and, the external appearance of the lot (it will be taller than the balustrade – the unit itself is on the top floor and they have indicated that it will not be visible). The balconies are exposed and not weather proof. However in saying all of that I’m not so sure that it is a common property issue due to the pre-1974 registration of the plan but I do feel that is much more than “cosmetic” or “minor”. Other committee members feel that it’s all fine and we should just let them do it- they have very relaxed approach to works and by-laws .

    I am not sure that having a large hot water tank on a balcony that was not designed for this function a great idea – it will also be above my balcony which scares me a bit. Anyway besides what I might think I would like to follow the correct procedure because it is an unusual request and could have the potential to create problems in the future. I recently renovated my unit and created a by-law (new bathroom, exhaust fan on wall out to balcony & re-configured laundry plumbing). Our by-laws are old and have no specific by-laws specifying minor or major works.

    Should replacing the hot water service with a larger tank and relocating onto the balcony be authorised through a separate by-law because it falls under a major works category?  I would like it to at least be considered by the Owners Corporation not just the strata committee.  Your advice very much appreciated.

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  • #59566

    A 160 litre tank is going to weigh around 200 kg when full; a lot of weight concentrated in one spot. In an older building you might need to get a structural report that the balcony will support it.


    This is a change of use which requires a by-law – at the very least to transfer  responsibility for the tank and the consequences of its installation to the owner. That requires a special resolution which a strata committee cannot make.

    It may also require planning approval and unless there is some sort of structural reinforcement done, the plan probably won’t get it.

    There are strata laws about major renovation that supersede by-laws regardless of when your scheme was built.

    You are right to be cautious and the upstairs neighbours need to come up with a plan that has been checked by a structural engineer before you even get to considering by-laws (or otherwise).


    Thanks Jimmy-T and Boronia – the weight of the water really bothers me and also where will all the hot water go if it leaks? I’ll  will see what the real estate comes back with – I responded to their email outlining that it would be considered a major work and the lot owner would need to get approval from the owners corporation via a by-law. That might end the matter but there is little support from other owners to follow any procedures. I’ve also discovered that an air-conditioner unit has been installed on the same balcony without any approval so you will most likely be hearing from me again. Made my day finding this forum! Thanks again.

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