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Balcony issues – and who repairs them?

There are many issues and problems that can occur on balconies, and it can be a somewhat grey area when it comes to discerning who’s responsible for repairing these issues. Staying on top of balcony maintenance is a crucial part of your building upkeep, so it’s important to have an understanding of what to expect in your building. For some general information about balconies, read on.

Common balcony maintenance issues

Water leaks

Water leaks from balconies are common, even though balconies are lined with waterproof membrane. The impact on the lot below can range from annoying to catastrophic. Water leaks need to be dealt with immediately.

Cleaning

All balustrades – especially glass ones, as dirty glass is particularly obvious – will need to be cleaned and regularly inspected.

 

Cracked or damaged tiles

Balcony tiles are backed by a waterproof membrane which stops water leaking into the lot below. Tiles can sometimes detach from the membrane and lift, or can move and crack due to various issues. These need to be repaired quickly before further damage occurs.

 

Deterioration or damage to balcony fittings

Balconies and balustrades are exposed to the elements year-round, meaning that deterioration and damage are very likely to happen over time. Regular maintenance is vital to protect the balcony structure and fittings from excessive and hard-to-repair damage.

 

Painting and general maintenance

Balcony balustrades made of steel and concrete need regular painting to help prevent rust and seal the structure. Wooden balustrades might not need painting, but will need to be inspected for timber pests and wood rot, and treated regularly to prevent this.

When issues such as these occur, lot owners need to notify the body corporate as soon as possible so that the issue can be properly dealt with and responsibility for repairs assigned.

 

Who is responsible for balcony repairs?

The clarification of responsibility in bodies corporate is on the face of it, quite simple – lot owners are responsible for maintaining and repairing their own lots, while the body corporate as a whole is responsible for maintaining and repairing the common property of the scheme. The difficulty sometimes lies in determining what is common property and what isn’t.

What makes it even more complicated is that in Queensland there are two types of subdivision survey plans pertaining to strata buildings. The definitions of common property and lots differ depending on what type of subdivision plan your building falls under.

Responsibility for the care and maintenance of various parts of your balcony varies depending on the applicable subdivision plan.

 

Building format plan balcony maintenance

All vertical developments with any number of levels are classed under the Building Format Plan. Under this format, boundaries between lots and common property are measured from the centre of ceilings, walls, floors and doors.

When it comes to balconies, the body corporate is usually responsible for maintaining:

  • The outside of the building
  • Railings or balustrades on, or near, the boundary between common property and a lot, including the exterior portion of a balustrade on a private balcony
  • The roof of the building

 

The lot owner is generally responsible for maintaining:

  • Doors and windows leading onto a balcony that forms part of the lot

Some examples:

  •  Cleaning of glass balustrades on balconies – usually the body corporate will be responsible for cleaning the exterior of the glass, while the lot owner will be responsible for the interior of the glass balustrade on the balcony.
  • Maintenance of the concrete on the exterior of the balcony surrounds – this will usually be a body corporate responsibility, as it is outside the boundary of your lot.

 

Standard format plan balcony maintenance

Standard format plans are commonly used within gated communities or townhouses. Under this format, boundaries are measured from pegs in the ground – exactly the same way that a regular house lot would be measured.

The body corporate is usually only responsible for maintaining facilities, roads, gardens and lawns on common property and utility infrastructure (e.g. pipes and wiring) on common property, or in a boundary structure, or that services more than one lot. This means that balcony maintenance in most cases will fall upon the individual lot owner.

The lot owner is usually responsible for maintaining:

  • The outside of the building within their lot boundary (including exterior roof, walls, doors and windows)
  • Balconies
  • Exclusive use areas that the owner has the benefit of

 

Some examples:

  • Repairing waterproof membranes on the balcony – that lot owner will usually be responsible for the cost.
  • Cleaning of glass balustrades on balconies – usually the lot owner will be responsible for this task.

Please keep in mind that this is general guidance only, and individual circumstances differ widely amongst buildings. What is applicable generally is not always applicable in every unique case. If you own a body corporate property, it’s always wise to seek professional advice on matters concerning your balcony. Contact Capitol here for advice

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