Vision 3 Strata - Compliance
Owners corporations - Responsibility to Child Safety
The NSW planning building laws relating to new and existing buildings were recently reviewed to assess their scope and application to make improvements in child safety in residential buildings, including the need to consider introducing new controls to ensure that within the next 5 years all existing strata planned buildings are brought in line with new BCA requirements for openable windows in Strata buildings, effective May 2013 and to expire May 2018.
These new laws will enforce the need to restrict an openable window source to a minimum 125mm up to 2m and 100mm above 4m from ground floor level. Given our growing population and the increased numbers of children living in apartments in Sydney the potential for serious injury or worse needs to be carefully looked at and action plans should be put in place to reach compliance within nominated timeframes to avoid penalty.
To reach this compliance there are a number of proprietary devices available in the market which can be retrofitted to windows to improve child safety .There are also a number of ways to modify windows to restrict or limit openings which will also satisfy compliance and make an immediate impact on the safety of the building.
Strata schemes have the complicating factor that the windows invariably are common property; as a result they do not belong to the owners of the units but to the owner’s corporation. As a general rule owners own the “inner core“ of their apartment from the underside of the ceiling to the upper surface of the external walls. The structural shell of the building including the windows and the balconies is generally common property, owned by everyone. This is why any attempt to mechanically fix restrictive window devices into existing windows on any Strata scheme building will first require body corporate approval.
Whilst approval for such a minor item given the immediate safety solution it offers, would be easily passed, this type of approach can create additional leakage problems for the windows and the building.
These restrictive devices are being fitted into existing windows that in many cases already present water ingress problems and are over 30-40 years old. Further penetrations into the existing framework weakens the windows performance and can over time contribute to structural issues e.g. concrete spalling and structural dilapidation of the building, burdening its owners to undergo major financial investments to ensure rectification works, which can be easily avoided.
The restriction in the air flow and ventilation for such a small space will also compromise owners and tenants’ levels of comfort especially in the warmer seasons, and create potential risks with occupants attempting to modify these devices to provide a greater level of comfort and therefore reversing the safety level bringing the building back to an uncompliant state.
Codes and Standards new and old
With the changes to the recent 2013 BCA Vision 3 has developed a dedicated product range for all existing buildings, catering for those buildings that require compliance and also catering for architectural impact and capital gain to increase re-sale value.
All buildings have different requirements and warrant different investments. This is why we have developed and offer a product range that presents well and services all markets. We have spent time researching the best approach to installing new windows into existing buildings and have varying installation methods that can be used to combat each different condition. And we stand by all the product warranties and guarantees. Once products have been installed a maintenance procedure is given to ensure the life of the products extend well beyond statutory warranties.