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Exit and Emergency Lighting

Question: Why don’t Linkfire replace just the batteries in Exit & Emergency Lighting?

 

In theory replacing a battery is cheaper than replacing a full light fitting, but unfortunately, it is not as simple as that. So why do most professional fire specialists like Linkfire prefer to replace the fitting? There are many parts of an Emergency Light that can cause the light to not work / fail the testing requirements. – battery, circuitry, charging device can all cause faults. Because of this,  there is no guarantee that the battery was the problem in a failed light. If we replace a battery, then in order to confirm that the battery was the issue we would need to run another 90 minute discharge test. If the fitting fails again, we could try replacing parts of the charging device or circuitry, etc. The cost of diagnosis, parts and multiple 90 minute tests would soon outweigh the cost of installing a brand new fitting instead. Furthermore, we are not able to provide any warranty on battery replacement or repairs to an old fitting, whereas we can provide a warranty on the new fittings we install. With our profile and capacity, we are able to source high grade fittings that are warrantied for a full 2 years. All new fittings we install are LED as well, saving your client cost on globe replacements and electricity usage in future. Of course, you also get a certificate of electrical safety with all of our electrical work.
 
It’s an old adage that says that the cheapest way will always cost you more eventually.


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Windows Maintenance and Replacements

It is vital to check lot boundaries when it comes down to windows repairs and maintenance and who is responsible. Due to high costs of windows repairs or replacement it is important for Owners Corporation to check the lot boundary on the plan of subdivision or the strata plan. The Owners Corporations would be in trouble if it undertakes works to windows located on private property. A case occurred in the industry once where an Owners Corporation carried out repairs and the results of the works were sub-standard. The Owners Corporation realised after that they shouldn’t have been involved in this, however they were liable for having another contractor to rectify the issue because they got involved initially and the manager was also held accountable for not providing the committee with correct advice. So, when it comes to lot boundaries, it is viable to check the 3 possibilities: interior face, median face, or external face of the lot. Unless the boundary is median (shared) or interior face, the Owners Corporation has no rights or obligation under the Act to carry out any repairs or replacements to windows in strata building. To allow the Owners Corporation to carry out repairs to private property a special resolution is required to be passed.  
 
The Owners Corporation has an obligation to maintain common areas of the building. When it comes to private property, if a lot owner hasn’t undertaken the works then the Owners Corporation has the ability to issue a notice pursuant to Section 129 of the Act below and request from the owner to rectify if it’s affecting the external appearance or the enjoyment of others within the Owners Corporation. 
 
129 Care of lots 
 
A lot owner must— 
(a) properly maintain in a state of good and serviceable repair any part of the lot that affects the outward appearance of the lot or the use or enjoyment of other lots or the common property; and 
(b) maintain any service that serves that lot exclusively. 

RISING DAMP IN STRATA BUILDING 
 
Rising damp is when moisture from the soil surrounding a building finds its way into the structure and creates a mould issue visible on the interior face of building. This is a particular issue in older homes where the damp course barrier (waterproofing) may have been damaged or never installed in the first instance. Furthermore, this could at times relate to poor maintenance of the property example a slow water leak behind the walls, or it could be that the ground level around the building is higher than the floor level of the unit blocking the airflow around the external walls of the building. This can create maintenance issues as the internal plaster work and skirtings may need replacing from the damage caused. Mould also can cause health issues if not treated properly. 

RESPONSIBILITY 
 
To be able to determine if this issue is private or common, a plumber or a raising damp specialist initially are required to investigate and report on the issue. If the matter is deemed to be related to poor maintenance due to a slow water leak from a pipe servicing the unit, in which the lot owner of the unit will be responsible and must pay for the cost of investigation and repairs. If the matter is related to moisture emitting from external ground, then it will be the Owners Corporation responsibility to pay for the costs. As managers we can’t really tell without engaging a professional to report on the issue. 
The Owners Corporation Committee may wish to cover the cost of the initial investigation and or inform the lot owner with the above information and ask if they are happy to pay if the matter is determined to be private.  

TREATMENT  
 
There are various treatments to address rising damp, which include injecting a silicone solution into the wall to create a barrier, with a salt retardant render over the top to ensure moisture cannot penetrate the wall any further. The cost to treat rising damp is variant to the size of your home and the amount of damage that has already been done. There may also be the need for additional sub floor vents to allow proper ventilation or clearing away the soil surrounding the structure of the building letting the air flaw through the external walls allowing for the moisture to dry.    

CONTRACTORS
 
FG James Pty Ltd rising damp specialists
Precision Electronic Leak Detection Services 140 Kooyong Rd, Caulfield North VIC 3161 Ph: 0408 345 036 
 
 

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Moving forward with Maintenance Plans


07 Dec 2021

All too often when undertaking site inspections, we leave the site with the impression that the Owners Corporation is not adequately maintaining their investment which is, more often than not, due to a funding issue. This will likely affect the sale value of the lots and increase the risk of large special levies when the works can no longer be ignored.

Why is this?
The main reason is simply, in many instances, having the owners invest their money into an account they don’t control, and when it’s not mandatory for the owners to invest their funds over time, it can be like getting blood out of a stone. The result being that property maintenance decisions are made reactively rather than proactively.
 
New legislation only requires 51 lots or more to approve a maintenance plan, which is a positive step forward for the industry, however many properties less than 51 lots still require funding for major works such as passenger lifts, roof replacement, external painting and other plant and equipment.
 
Encourage Owners to take action
We advise all Owners Corporations to take action, be aware of their buildings and specific needs, and develop a maintenance plan or ensure some form of funding is in place regardless of the number of lots of their building/s. We encourage the following:

  • Owners to have a maintenance inspection undertaken.
  • To identify the known and potentially unknown cost cycles (the earlier the better).
  • The committee to have a “Maintenance Plan Review Meeting.”
  • The committee should ask questions and understand the plan.
  • Don’t set and forget and be proactive.
  • Review the plan and budget at least every 3-5 years.
 
Explain the benefits to the Owners
  • Long term needs of building assessed and funded.
  • Potential problems may be identified when plan is being prepared or reviewed.
  • Allows works to be undertaken when needed and as funds are available.
  • Promotes a view of a well-maintained building and prudent Owners Corporation.
  • A fairer system of funding for all stakeholders.
  • Special levy is typically not required.
  • Financial certainty for all owners.
  • Add value to their investment.
  • Promotes saleable units and liveable Owners Corporations.
 
Case Study
In late 2019 Mabi was engaged to work with an Owners Corporation committee to inspect the property for defects and establish a long-term maintenance plan. What we discovered was a perfect example of the importance of proactive maintenance and establishing a fund as early on as possible, regardless of the size or number of lots.
 
The development in question consisted of 35 lots, as such did not require a maintenance plan under the previous legislation, nor does it require one under the newly adopted legislation as of 1st December 2021.
 
The development was 45 years old and had common property infrastructure such as a passenger lift, four separate metal roofs, timber balustrades to balconies and common walkways and a known issue with subsidence to the under-croft car park.
 
Upon completion of the defect survey the following was determined:
  • The passenger lift required immediate overhaul and was unsafe
  • Structural engineer advice determined the brick ties had corroded and parts of the brick fa├žade required re-building
  • Concrete spalling to the cantilevered concrete balconies was significant
  • Three of the four roofs require replacement within 5 years
  • A number of timber balustrades had completely rotted, and the steel supports were corroded
  • One balustrade had recently fallen out of the building leaving a tenant with a balcony with no fall protection
  • Timber windows were also rotted and had not been painted
  • Geotechnical engineer had determined a serious subsidence issue within the under croft.

Without allowing for all other required maintenance (such as internal hallway painting and carpet replacement, essential safety measures, mechanical, CCTV and other normal maintenance costs cycles), the total for the urgent works exceeded $1.4 million required within the next 5 years. The average cost per unit for the next 5 years exceeded $10,000.
 
This is a perfect example of why an Owners Corporation must consider the specifics of their building/s and not just the number of lots. The Owners Corporation had zero funds set aside for maintenance and no formal or informal plan. The owners were reluctant to have the works carried out as they had no money, and no decisions were ever made until it was too late.
 
Whilst this case study is a ‘horror story’ it does illustrate that nothing lasts forever, and a more pragmatic approach must be taken when maintaining common property and how it is funded.
Not all Owners Corporations will require substantial repairs as per this example, however many lot owners will be dealt a blow when they realised the sums of money they are required to individually contribute often coupled with the fact that they are effectively recouping funds that should have been contributed from day one and potentially from past owners. 
 
The earlier a maintenance plan budget is set up, the easier the process and the fairer the financial requirements are for all stake holders over the long term.
 
Kingsley Osmond
Director
Mabi Services
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Example of concrete spalling to concrete ceiling with no action taken by Owners Corporation for 15 plus years


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Example of timber fascia that has rotted past the point of repair