You ask, we answer:
Each month we answer a question about living in a community title. This month is the weighty issue of balconies.
We have many beautiful plants and a couple of water features on a large balcony in our three-year-old apartment building. After some other residents raised concerns, our Body Corporate has asked us to source an engineers report to confirm the weight of our plants and water features will not structurally affect the building.
We have asked if the original plans have guidance about the weight limit of balconies but have only been told that we must organise a report at our own cost.
In this situation, what are our rights, particularly if the report comes back in our favour advising there is no issue? Will our costs be reimbursed if the balconies were structurally engineered to carry such a load?
Your first port of call is to check your registered bylaws to see if there are any restrictions to what you can have on your balcony. You may find any load limits in the bylaws too. If the bylaws do not have this data, then the next step is to contact your council to see if they have complete plans for your building that include this information or the details of the engineers/architects who worked on the property.
As your property is quite new, the apartment buildingwould come under the Community Titles Act and would therefore be categorised as Community Strata (where one lot exists above another). Under Section 75: Functions and Powers of Corporations, it is the job of the corporation to administer, manage and control the common property for the owners of the community lots (the other apartments). That
means the request for an engineers report from your Body Corporate Manager was made to ensure your balcony can hold the weight and so that the building is not compromised.
Because you have chosen to furnish your terrace with pot plants and water features that inevitably add extra, continuous weight to the building, the cost of ensuring your additions are safe would also fall to you.
Paying for your own report may protect you in the future. If any damage occurs in the future and is considered to be due to the weight of furnishings on your terrace, you will have a report showing that you took all measures to ensure that the balcony could hold the weight of your items.
I hope that helps,