Common causes of strata property water damage

Get a closer look at which building features may cause strata property water damage and learn how to prevent this from occurring

According to an Equity Economics report released in 2019, the cost of addressing structural and safety defects in apartments built in the past ten years approximates $6.2 billion. A joint Deakin University and Griffith University research project revealed water damage as the most significant cause of defects and damage in Australian strata properties. Knowing this, it’s important to understand what can cause strata property water damage and learn how to prevent it from occurring in your building as much as possible.So how does water penetration lead to strata property water damage? Here, we take you through building features that are sometimes common causes of strata property water damage. These include:

  1. Balconies
  2. Balustrading
  3. Basements
  4. Cladding
  5. Frameworks
  6. Plumbing
  7. Roofing
  8. Window and planter boxes


Tiled balconies are a common feature in modern multi-storey buildings as they facilitate more effective use of open-air space. However, they may sometimes cause concern for lot owners and strata committees. In extreme cases, frequent flooding and leaking after heavy rains, and the aftermath of residents hosing down their balconies to clean off dust and dirt, may lead to strata property water damage in the long run.

Lot owners who live lower in the building have a greater likelihood of flooding, so if your unit is towards the bottom of your building then it’s wise to stay alert.

Balustrading often uses vertical stainless-steel balusters that must be anchored directly into the tiled surface. Water may sometimes penetrate the space where bolts enter the waterproof membrane and travel down into the timber or concrete below, which may lead to water damage.

Strata property water damage of this nature takes some time to notice and is often difficult to fix. If you notice it, it’s wise to alert your committee or strata manager as soon as possible and investigate the matter.

Basements are usually constructed to keep water out by draining it away from the building before it enters. If a builder did not follow the engineer’s instructions regarding drain levels, waterproofing and detailing precisely, this might cause basement leaks that may cause water damage to your strata property.

Once built, basement repairs to reverse the damage and prevent further water penetration may be complex and costly. However, it is generally best to attend to such matters as soon as your strata community notices an issue to prevent significant damage to your building.


Unsealed joints in exterior cladding, including weatherboard, sheet cladding, rendered brickwork and bricks, may sometimes cause water penetration. These external cladding products should generally be sealed adequately during construction and checked regularly as part of your strata community’s routine maintenance process.

Areas exposed to the natural elements may deteriorate over time, with cracks and general degradation facilitating opportunities for water to get inside and cause strata property water damage.


Doors, door frames, windows and windowsills may provide an easy entry point for water. Unless protected by verandas, canopies and the like, exposure to wet weather can be a common water penetration method and may lead to water damage. Timber frameworks are more likely to rot, swell or crack than their aluminium counterparts.


Generally, the larger a strata property, the more complex the plumbing network needed to deliver water to common areas and individual lots. Blocked drains and sewers can be among the most common causes of strata property water damage, followed by leaking and burst pipes. If you do notice this type of water damage in your building, it’s wise to alert your committee or strata manager to have the matter dealt with swiftly.


Many modern roof designs feature low-angle roof sheeting, box gutters over living areas and extended lengths of flashing to protect the building. Undersized box gutters, buckled roof sheets and unsealed flashings may be exposed during heavy rainfall, after which a lot of water may leak into the building and cause water damage to your strata property.

Window and planter boxes

While window and planter boxes filled with florals and greenery certainly add aesthetic appeal to a property’s façade, they may also cause strata property water damage. If the window or planter boxes were not installed or waterproofed correctly, don’t feature adequate drainage or are not cared for properly, they may deteriorate and allow water to permeate the adjoining walls and structures. This water may even seep into internal walls, causing large-scale water damage.

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Strata committees should ensure that appointed specialist service providers have a thorough working knowledge of relevant building legislation, regulations and codes. They must be certified to undertake construction work and repairs before they are contracted.By scheduling regular inspections and maintenance of the above areas of your property, your strata community may be able to limit water damage to your property.

If you are experiencing flooding due to any of the above-listed causes or an excess of rain, it’s wise to get in touch with your strata manager or building manager to organise repairs and maintenance. Doing this as quickly as possible may help your strata community avoid excessive property damage and potential flow-on effects of flooding like mould.

Of course, if you are experiencing excessive flooding and you feel you may be in danger, please call emergency services on 000 or the SES on 132 500 right away.When it comes to managing a strata property, there are various compliance or legislative requirements that are needed to protect owners and residents.  When the situation allows, you don’t want to miss out on the chance of an insurance claim.  Click here to learn more about Community Health & Safety and related services to ensure your protection. You can also click here to download our FREE Community Living guide series on defects.  If you would like to learn more about the services we offer, click here for a free assessment.