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[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column width="4/6"][vc_column_text]With utilities making up between 10% – 30% of the running costs of an average apartment building, it is a great place to start to look for potential savings in costs. One method is to shop around for a better deal on electricity prices. The electrical network, such as the power lines in the street, the lines running to the building and the electricity meters, are owned by a network owner such as Ausgrid. The actual electricity that you purchase for your energy consumption can be purchased from many retail energy providers in the market. These providers purchase energy wholesale and then resell it to consumers. The quality and service reliability are the same no matter who you purchase the electricity from, as it is all managed by the network owner. This provides you freedom of choice without compromising on the quality or reliability of your electricity supply.   Larger properties who consume around $20,000+ of electricity p.a. are large enough to be able to approach retail suppliers individually and have the retailers bid to supply the electricity. This will save the building significant electricity costs rather than purchasing energy on a month to month basis. The contract terms are usually about two to three years in duration. With properties that fall under the $20,000 p.a. spend, which is usually apartment buildings with less than 50 apartments, have a lower negotiating power with retailers as their consumption is far less than the larger properties. We recently bundled these smaller electricity consuming buildings together to form a buying group for electricity. The result was that their collective buying power achieved a discounted rate overall.   We bundled 553 buildings together with an annual electricity consumption spend of $1,800,000.00 and approached six different energy retailers. The most cost-effective retailer, Energy Australia, provided an excellent offer saving participants in the buying group 14% on average compared to remaining on their current electricity rate. This is an excellent result with a combined saving of $252,000.00.   What you can do For eligible residents of NSW (the holders of either a Pensioner Concession Card, Centrelink Health Care Card, Centrelink Low-Income Health Care Card, or a Gold Card from Veterans’ Affairs) the NSW Government are offering discounts on new energy efficient fridges and televisions. The appliance replacement offer makes it easier for you to upgrade your old fridge or television to a new, more efficient model.   Reducing your energy bills can be as simple as using appliances with high energy ratings. To find out what is on offer and how this will help your household click here.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/6"][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image="18342" qode_css_animation=""][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image="18342" qode_css_animation=""][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row]...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column width="4/6"][vc_column_text]Each apartment building has a set of rules that residents must abide by. These rules referred to as by-laws which govern and set out aspects of how an apartment building is run. For instance, it states what types of pets residents can keep, noise restrictions/disturbing other residents and what minor renovations are permitted. All residents, whether an owner or tenant, must abide by the by-laws for the building. The by-laws must also be included in sales contracts and leasing agreements with tenants.   The by-laws are established when the apartment building is built and the developer of the property determines the rules for the building. Once the building is occupied and the owners have settled into the property, they may decide that some of the by-laws need amending or that additional by-laws are necessary to assist with the successful running of the property. This may be that pets for example, may have not been permitted, however the owners decide that they now wish to allow pets. Any change of the by-laws must be put to a general meeting of the owners and each owner may vote. Any change must be decided upon with a special resolution and it is passed if no more than 25% of the owners vote against the change. The most common breaches of by-laws by residents occur in relation to the parking of motor vehicles where they are not permitted, for instance the driveway or allocated visitors area. Community living can also derive instances of noise annoyance to neighbours, as people are living in such close proximity with each other. Smoke disturbance from cigarettes is also becoming more of an issue. Although someone can’t be restricted to legally do what they like in their apartment, if this is causing a problem for others, there are legislative mechanisms to address this problem.   The government publishes a set of recommended by-laws that developers can adopt for a development. However, it is common that these by-laws are added to and amended to suit each particular development, as building layout and complexity can differ greatly. The developer usually consults with a strata management firm in the development phase to obtain advice on appropriate by-laws. A purchaser can obtain the by-laws which are relevant to the property from either the sales contract or by requesting a copy from the strata manager, by completing this form. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/6"][vc_empty_space][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image="18442" qode_css_animation=""][vc_empty_space][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row]...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text]Thinking of renovating? We would like to give you some helpful steps to get you started in seeking approval from the Owners Corporation.   If you are considering undertaking building and/or renovation works in your apartment, the necessary approvals need to be considered. Depending on how extensive the building works are, approval may be required from the local Council and the Owners Corporation. Appointing an expert to ensure you have the right approvals in place is always recommended.   Approval by local Council Depending on how extensive the building works are, the approval of local Council may be required, other considerations such as apartments within a heritage building will have certain conditions imposed. It is always recommended that an expert is consulted to assist with the required approvals as it can be quite complex.   Approval by Owners Corporation There are a number of levels of approval that may be required from the Owners Corporation. If the building works are minor and don’t impact the common property or change the appearance of the building, then approval from the Strata Committee may only be required. This is usually facilitated by an application for approval through a standard by-law and formally approved at an Strata Committee meeting.   If the building works affect common property, change the appearance of the building or fall within other circumstances then a general meeting and/or a special by-law may be required to be created and approved by the Owners Corporation. This is a complex process and a specialist strata lawyer is recommended to provide you the correct advice.   Always seek advice from your strata manager prior to committing to any building or renovation works, the costs can be extensive if the correct approvals are not obtained prior to carrying out the works, you may be required to remove or put back in place, should the approval be denied by local Council or the Owners Corporation.   Approval requirements for works Bannermans Lawyers produce a Fact Sheet that explains the necessary approvals required for certain types of renovation works. Please refer to the Fact Sheet here.   Submit your application Submit your application form to your strata managing agent together with your supporting documents.   The strata managing agent will then review the type of works which are applied for and the approval that is required and advise of the next steps. The strata managing agent does not have the authority to decide on an application.   Disclaimer: The articles and comments in this publication are necessarily brief and general in nature and are not intended to be relied upon by any reader in dealing with a particular problem. Whist all care has been taken in the preparation of this publication the writer and the producers accept no liability for any omission or misguidance.   [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][gravityform id="11" title="false" description="false" ajax="false"][/vc_column][/vc_row] ...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column width="4/6"][vc_column_text]Barangaroo is Sydney’s largest urban regeneration project in a generation. The vibrant new waterfront city precinct will eventually accommodate 23,000 office workers, 1,500 residents, an international 6-star hotel and more than 80 cafes, bars, restaurants and retail outlets across approximately 535,000sqm of gross floor area.   Barangaroo South enjoyed the success of Anadara and Alexander’s 159 luxury waterfront apartments, selling out in just three and a half hours, while International Towers Sydney continues to attract blue chip tenants. International House Sydney – Australia’s first engineered timber commercial building – has achieved a Head of Terms for one anchor tenant signing 100 per cent of the space. The development aims to be Australia’s first large scale carbon-neutral precinct. Every aspect of Barangaroo South has been considered from a sustainability angle, from the design of the buildings and public domain to the materials used and the social impact the development will have on Sydney. It has been selected to be part of the C40 Cities/Clinton Climate Initiative’s Climate Positive Development Program.   Barangaroo South commenced construction in October 2011 and has staged completions through to 2023, with the first stage (1A) now complete. The waterfront residential apartments were completed in December 2015; the final commercial tower of International Towers Sydney in December 2016 and International House Sydney in April 2017.   With more than half of the total retailers open, Barangaroo South is a thriving destination attracting Sydneysiders to work, live and play in a place offering the highest quality public and private spaces.   Source: Urban Development Institute of Australia[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/6"][vc_single_image image="17245" qode_css_animation=""][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image="17246" qode_css_animation=""][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image="16999" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row]...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text]The National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) has been the ultimate rating for the commercial building sector since the 2000’s. The system, which is an energy efficiency rating system, has propelled Australia to be one of the leaders in the improvement of building use to increase water and energy efficiency and become more efficient.   In June this year, NABERS for Apartment Buildings will launch. Strata Choice’s General Manager of Building Management, Greg Sara has been participating in the government initiated working group to effectively integrate the initiative for apartment buildings. The City of Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney commissioned a survey to assess engagement of NABERS with apartment owners.      Source: City of Sydney / UTS   The rating will focus on the common property of apartment buildings, and does not include energy used by individual lots. Ratings are calculated through a benchmarking process which assesses a buildings energy and water consumption and adjusts for different variables such as the number of apartments, central air-conditioning configuration, water metering configuration amongst others. When the data is processed using the NABERS tool, it will result in a rating from 1 to 6 stars. 1 being the lowest use of efficiency and 6 being market leading. This is based upon a comparison of other building’s ratings; therefore the rating is fluid over time. As buildings become more efficient over the years, the average moves up the scale. Therefore, over time, buildings in Australia as a group become more efficient. This has successfully occurred in the commercial building sector within Australia and is now recognised as one of the greenest in the world.   To learn more, please watch an intro video about NABERS, although this is focused on commercial properties, the theory is the same.     How it will work in apartment buildings:   The apartment building decides to participate in the NABERS scheme; Building metrics data, water and energy billing information is collected by the building and/or strata manager; A NABERS assessor is appointed to assess the data, conduct a site visit and lodge the rating with NABERS; A NABERS rating is automatically generated based on the data provided, which is quality checked and certified by NABERS; Steps 2 to 4 are repeated annually to retain the NABERS rating for the building. Efficiency improvements undertaken between assessments will increase the rating result.   It is envisaged that websites that advertise properties for sale will have NABERS ratings displayed to prospective purchases. It is anticipated that this will cause a demand for prospective apartment purchasers to enquire whether the building has and what is their NABERS rating. In the commercial building sector, there is a view that property values are benefited from a higher NABERS rating.   NABERS are also running accredited assessor courses coming up in May / June for both new and existing assessors to become trained in NABERS for Apartment Buildings. For further details click here.   Strata Choice is at the forefront of this initiative and will keep you posted in the months to come. Further information: • NABERS for apartment buildings brochure • Subscribe to the NABERS email mailing list for updates • Watch the NABERS introduction video[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text]The issue of non-compliant building cladding is still on the forefront of building owner’s minds. As time progresses, original questions about the extent of the volume of properties at risk and what are suitable alternate products remains largely unclear.   Cladding has been a popular method of wall cladding for its lightweight, metallic surface which is very cost effective to manufacture and install. It has been utilised in construction for decades. Cladding is usually easy to spot due to its shiny smooth surface. A core sample for testing and a review of the product datasheet is typically required to determine the actual product which has been installed by builders. Builders may also have used a mixture of different types of cladding within the same building.   There has been numerous fires and deaths around the world due to the Aluminium Composite Panel (ACP) cladding product being combustible during a fire.  A popular type of product is manufactured with a polyethylene core, which is essentially a plastic sheet sandwiched between two pieces of aluminium sheet.    Source: https://Wikipedia.org Source: http://smh.com.au         With cladding based fires around the world and with the recent tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire in England, there has been a refocusing on the risks that ACP places on residents in apartment buildings.   At Strata Choice, we estimate to have 186 properties that either have or may have some form of wall cladding installed.   What Does Cladding Look Like? Cladding can be recognised by large smooth metallic looking sheets that are attached to a building’s exterior or interior wall.   Source: http://alucobond.com.au/   Building Insurance Implications The Strata Schemes Management Act outlines specific requirements for the Owners Corporation’s obligations of building insurance coverage. Building insurers are now specifically requesting details on whether the insured building has cladding installed and if so, what percentage of the building is covered. If the building does have cladding, the insurers are requesting details in the form of an engineering report and where required results of any testing. Where cladding is combustible, a plan and timeline for its replacement. Insurers are developing the way in which they assess risks and premiums where aluminium cladding is involved.  Ideally, when dealing with insurers the scheme will be seeking to demonstrate that their scheme is a low risk or if not, that it is taking steps to make the building a low risk.   We have seen instances where insurance premiums have increased by multiples of 2, 3 or 4 times.   BAC Insurance Brokers have outlined insurance concerns contained in their letter accessible here.     Building Defect Warranties As cladding is not considered a ‘structural’ part of the building, any claim to a builder for defective or non-compliance is considered a ‘general’ defect. This means that for many building constructed under a contract entered into after 1 February 2012 their statutory warranty period is 2 years. Further liability and alternate recourse may be remotely possible if the claim is made after this period, however specific legal advice would be required to be obtained for each individual case.   Information on building defects in general can be obtained in the Bannermans Lawyers article found here.     Governments Response The government has published the Senate’s Economics References Committee report on non-conforming building products. You can read the report here.   The NSW government has also set up an inter-agency Fire Safety and External Wall Cladding Taskforce that was established in June this year to develop and implement a coordinated, whole of government policy response to the Grenfell Tower fire in London. They have published a fact sheet here.    Where the taskforce has identified that a building may have cladding, it is writing to the building owners to act.  If your building is such a building consider the approach explained in the Bannermans Lawyers – “Dealing with the NSW Cladding Taskforce request article”.   The Minister for Better Regulation, Matt Kean, released the government’s 10 point plan:   A comprehensive building product safety scheme that would prevent the use of dangerous products on buildings; Identifying buildings that might have aluminium or other cladding; Writing to the building / strata managers or owners of those buildings to encourage them to inspect the cladding and installation of cladding, if it exists; NSW Fire and Rescue visiting all buildings on the list, as part of a fire safety education program. This will allow them to gather information they need to prepare for a potential fire at that building, and provide additional information to building owners; Creating a new fire safety declaration that will require high rise residential buildings to inform state and local governments as well as NSW Fire and Rescue if their building has cladding on it; Expediting reforms to toughen up the regulation of building certifiers; Reforms to create an industry based accreditation, that will ensure only skilled and experienced people can do fire safety inspections; Establishing a whole of government taskforce that will coordinate and roll out the reforms; Instructing all government departments to audit their buildings and determine if they have aluminium cladding, with an initial focus on social housing; Writing to local councils to follow up on correspondence they received from the state government, after Melbourne’s Lacrosse Tower fire, in 2016.     Next Steps Many properties in our portfolio have already undergone testing and planning for remedial work to have cladding assessed and replaced. Each client will be contacted by our office to determine if cladding exists on the building and if so, an action plan which is applicable to each type of situation will be implemented. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach on cladding that is installed on a building, as removal is not always the required outcome, a specialist engineer is required to consider the product type, extent of the use of the cladding on the building and the buildings fire safety measures. NSW Government will also pass regulation placing a requirement on building owners to report if cladding exists on their building and a cladding register will be maintained by Government. Strata Choice held a free seminar that included a panel of experts and representatives from various fields of expertise. View the panel session video with speakers from:   NSW Government - Fair Trading AED Group Engineers SPMA Engineers BAC Insurance Brokers Bannermans Lawyers         Further Resources 4 Corners TV Story “Combustible: The dangerous legacy of failed regulation in the building industry” Bannermans Lawyers – “Dealing with the NSW Cladding Taskforce request article”  BAC Insurance Brokers letter on building insurance impacts NSW Government – Fair Trading fire safety and external wall cladding web page NSW Government – Planning & Environment – External walls and cladding circular     Disclaimer: The articles and comments in this publication are necessarily brief and general in nature and are not intended to be relied upon by any reader in dealing with a particular problem. Whist all care has been taken in the preparation of this publication the writer and the producers accept no liability for any omission or misguidance.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_raw_html]JTNDZGl2JTIwY2xhc3MlM0QlMjJhbGlnbmxlZnQlMjIlMjBzdHlsZSUzRCUyMndpZHRoJTNBMTAwJTI1JTNCaGVpZ2h0JTNBMCUzQmJvcmRlci10b3AlM0ExcHglMjBkb3R0ZWQlMjAlMjNiNWI1YjUlM0Jmb250LXNpemUlM0EwJTNCbWFyZ2luLXRvcCUzQTFweCUyMiUzRS0lM0MlMkZkaXYlM0U=[/vc_raw_html][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column width="5/6"][vc_column_text] Proxy form for general meetings of a strata scheme [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][icons icon="fa-file-pdf-o" size="fa-lg" type="normal" position="left" link="https://www.stratachoice.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Proxy-Form-Company-Nominee-Form.pdf" target="_self" icon_color="#848484"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_raw_html]JTNDZGl2JTIwY2xhc3MlM0QlMjJhbGlnbmxlZnQlMjIlMjBzdHlsZSUzRCUyMndpZHRoJTNBMTAwJTI1JTNCaGVpZ2h0JTNBMCUzQmJvcmRlci10b3AlM0ExcHglMjBkb3R0ZWQlMjAlMjNiNWI1YjUlM0Jmb250LXNpemUlM0EwJTNCbWFyZ2luLXRvcCUzQTFweCUyMiUzRS0lM0MlMkZkaXYlM0U=[/vc_raw_html][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column width="5/6"][vc_column_text] Proxy form for general meetings of a community scheme [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][icons icon="fa-file-pdf-o" size="fa-lg" type="normal" position="left" link="https://www.stratachoice.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Proxy-Form-Company-Nominee-Form-Community-Form.pdf" target="_self" icon_color="#848484"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_raw_html]JTNDZGl2JTIwY2xhc3MlM0QlMjJhbGlnbmxlZnQlMjIlMjBzdHlsZSUzRCUyMndpZHRoJTNBMTAwJTI1JTNCaGVpZ2h0JTNBMCUzQmJvcmRlci10b3AlM0ExcHglMjBkb3R0ZWQlMjAlMjNiNWI1YjUlM0Jmb250LXNpemUlM0EwJTNCbWFyZ2luLXRvcCUzQTFweCUyMiUzRS0lM0MlMkZkaXYlM0U=[/vc_raw_html][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column width="5/6"][vc_column_text] Appointment of acting member of Strata Committee [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][icons icon="fa-file-pdf-o" size="fa-lg" type="normal" position="left" link="https://www.stratachoice.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Appointment-of-Acting-Member-of-the-Strata-Committee.pdf" target="_self" icon_color="#848484"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_raw_html]JTNDZGl2JTIwY2xhc3MlM0QlMjJhbGlnbmxlZnQlMjIlMjBzdHlsZSUzRCUyMndpZHRoJTNBMTAwJTI1JTNCaGVpZ2h0JTNBMCUzQmJvcmRlci10b3AlM0ExcHglMjBkb3R0ZWQlMjAlMjNiNWI1YjUlM0Jmb250LXNpemUlM0EwJTNCbWFyZ2luLXRvcCUzQTFweCUyMiUzRS0lM0MlMkZkaXYlM0U=[/vc_raw_html][/vc_column][/vc_row]...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text] By-Laws & dispute seminar   Our By-Laws & disputes seminar is designed to give you a better understanding on the purpose of By-Laws. We will cover what By-Laws apply to specific schemes, and how and when they are used.  We also delve into dispute resolution and how to best deal with By-Law breaches.   A number of the topics included in this seminar are: General overview of the By-Laws; Breach of By-Laws; Solving disputes; Notice to comply; Mediation; Adjudication.     To view locations and times of the next seminar, please visit our seminars page here.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]...