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Flat Chat

Water On The Brain

The recent heavy rains in Sydney had everyone running for cover. In my own block, the denialist developers are insisting that the clear evidence of their shoddy workmanship – water seeping through walls, just like we told them it would – is merely condensation. Unbelievable! The fact that we are not alone is no comfort at all.

QUESTION 1: My ground floor unit has a small courtyard with three drainage outlets. During the recent heavy rains, while I was away, my living room carpet was soaked by rainwater getting in through the (closed) sliding doors.

I notified the building manager and he told me that leaves covering one drainage outlet had prevented the rain water from escaping. I think it’s the gradient of the ground that channelled the water towards my unit.

I was informed by NRMA Insurance that it is a strata responsibility and therefore it is not covered by my contents insurance.

Do I have sufficient grounds to claim for the damage caused? Will it affect the value of my unit if I notify the owners corporation?
Soaked, Sydenham

QUESTION 2: We own a unit with parking space in the basement into which water comes thru the wall from the garden area, especially in this recent heavy rain. I've tried painting on appropriate sealing mix without much success.

Our strata is six years old and we are negotiating with the developers over a range of problems. My question is. do I have to put with the problem or does the owners corporation have to fix it?
Washed Out, Sydney.

The answer to question 1 depends on the details of the insurance policy. I would ask the Executive Committee to support your claim – with either your insurers or theirs that it was an accident – or accept there is a design flaw with the courtyard which, as common property, is their responsibility to identify and correct. Either
way, they should be helping you out.

By the way, on the issue of future value, I prefer buildings where problems have been identified and solved over blocks where no problems are ever reported.

The second question is much more clear cut. The wall is common property and it’s not doing its job. The developers should be put on notice to fix it. If they don’t the Owners Corporation should.

First published SMH July 2007