3 tips for installing air conditioning to your body corporate property
The Queensland summer can be brutal, so to dial down the temperature you may want to consider installing air conditioning to your body corporate property
It’s not unusual for owners to install air con to their homes, especially considering how hot Queensland summers can get. However, before installing air conditioning to your body corporate property, there are a few things to consider.
In a body corporate property, any fixed air conditioner requires a compressor and pipes to be fitted to the exterior of your building and may require drilling into the wall. As exterior walls are common property, you will need to get permission from your body corporate before going ahead with an installation.
Under Schedule 6 of the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997, air conditioning installation is considered a non-structure improvement. This means that an owner can make an improvement to common property if approved by the committee or the body corporate at a general meeting.Here are 3 tips for installing air conditioning to your body corporate property:
- Review your by-laws
- Obtain a quote from a qualified and licensed air conditioning company
- Seek permission from your body corporate
Review your by-laws
Before you begin your planning for installing air conditioning to your body corporate property, we recommend that you review your building’s by-laws to see if air-conditioners are permitted. If they are, your by-laws may specify what type of unit is permitted, where the compressor can be located. They may also include list of approved providers who can carry out the installation.
There may be further conditions that you need to meet. You may need to ensure the unit’s colour and associated pipes match the building’s finishes and the operating noise does not exceed a certain number of decibels.
Here are some things you should keep in mind when installing air conditioning to your body corporate property:
- The improvement must not detract from the appearance of a lot or the common property
- The body corporate must be satisfied that use and enjoyment is not likely to promote a breach of the owner’s duties as an occupier
- Installation of a condenser on a lot (for example, a balcony) requires authorisation from the body corporate
- Installation of a condenser on common property, which is categorised as a minor improvement (valued at $3,000 or less), requires authorisation from the body corporate
- If the value of the air-conditioner is more than $3,000, the authorisation must be considered by ordinary resolution at a general meeting (a vote of all owners)
- For schemes registered under the Two-lot Schemes Module, the body corporate can allow an owner to make improvements to the common property. This would need a lot owner agreement. There are no limits on the cost of the improvement
- Under the Commercial Module, there is no limit on the value of the improvement. This means the committee can approve all improvements to common property made by an owner of a lot regardless of the cost
Obtain a quote from a qualified and licensed air conditioning company
Once you understand the air conditioning requirements, you may wish to discuss your requirements with a licensed and reputable air conditioning company.
We recommend that you provide them with the relevant section of your by-laws, so they too understand the requirements before installing air conditioning to your body corporate property.
It’s wise to request that they address the following details in their quotation:
- The proposed location of the compressor and associated pipes/wiring
- Where the condensate waste will be discharged
- The operating noise of the unit/system
- What access they need for the installation
- Whether they will remove all the associated packaging and waste after installation is complete
- Their license number and details of their insurance coverage.
PICA Group tip
You are responsible for ensuring that the installation satisfies all body corporate requirements. By-laws are there to protect you as an owner from contractors that don’t measure up, so ensure you receive everything in writing. It’s wise to be present for the installation to ensure the installation matches the conditions specified in your by-laws.
An air-conditioning unit servicing a lot is covered under the owner’s personal content insurance, not the body corporate insurance.
Seek permission from your body corporate
By seeking the required approval from your body corporate, you will avoid the possibility of the committee requesting the unit or condenser be relocated to another position or removed altogether.
The committee can provide approval for installing air conditioning to your body corporate property if:
- The total cost is less than $3,000
- The improvement does not detract from the appearance of a lot
- They are satisfied that it is not likely to cause a nuisance to neighbours.
Body corporate approval
If the value of the air-conditioner is more than $3,000, you will need the approval of the body corporate (more than 50 per cent of voting owners) at a general meeting before installing air conditioning to your body corporate property.
Step one: what to include in your submission
To improve your chances of approval, your request for installation should include:
- Details and value of the proposed installation
- Details of the proposed installer (including their insurance and license details)
- Details of any other condition that you need to satisfy, such as operating noise levels and where condensation waste will be directed
- If the installer needs to access common property to complete the installation.
Step two: once you have permission
Once you’ve obtained permission, and have an installation date in mind, you will need to notify any neighbours that might be affected by the works. You should provide them at least two weeks’ notice and detail how long the installation will take, and what type of noise/impact to expect.
Step three: on completion of works
Your installer should provide you with a dated and signed commissioning certificate on completion. Your body corporate may also ask for a picture of the works as evidence you have complied with the approval conditions.
Related question from our StrataFAQ community
Q: How do I go about having an air conditioning unit installed in accordance with strata laws?
A: The rules and requirements regarding installing air-conditioning vary from property to property. There may be a by-law in place as there will likely be the need to alter common property because the condenser may be visible from outside your lot.
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