RSS Feed
Nov 10

APARTMENT LIVING: Highs and lows

Posted on Saturday, November 10, 2018 in Flat Chat

About 15 years ago my partner Sue and I bought a new apartment off the plan and had a truly hellish time with corrupt committee members, self-serving building managers, incompetent strata managers, rapacious developers, mendacious attack-dog lawyers and neighbours who refused to help but then were quick to point the finger when things went wrong.

Our saving grace was that we are both authors and journalists and we decided to write a book about it to warn other people about the pitfalls.

That was Apartment Living which was published by ABC books. From it came my weekly Flat Chat column, first in the Sydney Morning Herald, now in the Australian Financial Review, which has now been going for 15 years, and from that came the Flat Chat website which offers advice and empathy to the tens of thousands of others who are struggling with the new realities of strata living.

I also turn up once a month on the James Valentine show on ABC radio 702 to talk about apartments and answer questions Title screen shotfrom listeners and I frequently get asked to speak at conferences and seminars.

If you were wondering, that’s why this website is called The Accidental Guru.  I never set  out to be an expert on strata living but, hey, if no one else was going to do it, it might as well be me.

In 2014 Sue and I launched a magazine called Title, promoting the positive aspects of apartment living. The website is still going strong although the realities of the print market, the vagaries of advertising and the cost of distribution have overwhelmed its physical incarnation.


Nov 30

Apartment Living

Posted on Saturday, November 30, 2013 in Books, Flat Chat


Apartment Living was written by my partner Sue Williams and me in response to the fairly troubled times we faced when we first moved into a new apartment block in Sydney.

We ran the whole gauntlet of issues, from a dodgy Executive Committee the chair of which was a little too autocratic and close to the developers for comfort, to a building manager – also employed by the developers – who was not only utterly incompetent but ran nasty little vendettas against any residents who dared to criticise the way the building was being run.

It took a group of committed owners nine months to resolve this scandalous situation, sack the original EC and the building manager and get things running smoothly (for which I can take no credit).

Both being writers, our instinctive response was to get it down on paper and make some of the stuff that we’d discovered available to others. We also tried to make the book as entertaining and informative as we could.

It was published by ABC Books in June 2004 and one reviewer for The Age in Melbourne called it “The Lonely Planet for apartments” which was just about the feel we were looking for.

many of the laws referred to in the book have changes and are about to change even more in 2014 when the new NSW strta laws come in.  I plan to have a new version of the book available then. Check the Flat Chat website for updates.


Nov 30

The Ultimate Guide …

Posted on Saturday, November 30, 2013 in Books, Flat Chat

ultimate-2-cover Our first book about living in apartments , ingeniously called Apartment Living, led to my weekly Flat Chat column in the Sydney Morning Herald. Ironically, based on the column, Fairfax Publications invited me to write The Ultimate Guide to Buying and Renting Houses and Apartments which is a much more practical and down-to-earth “how-to” book about buying, selling and renting – although it does have a “Best and Worst of Flat Chat” included.

The Ultimate Guide to was published in June 2006 and updated in April 2008 (rrp $29.95).

The Ultimate Guide … is currently out of print but I am writing an update to Apartment Living.