Body corporate rules for air conditioning installation

Body corporate rules for air conditioning installation article header image

Body corporate rules for air conditioning installation

The Queensland summer can be brutal, so to dial down the temperature you might be considering air conditioning.

 

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. Here are some important points to consider when it comes to body corporate rules for air conditioning installation.

Under Schedule 6 of the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997, the body corporate rules for 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.

  1. Prior to seeking body corporate air conditioning installation permission

  2. Obtaining a quote from a qualified and licensed air conditioning company

  3. Seeking air conditioning installation permission from your body corporate

  4. Who is responsible for body corporate air conditioner maintenance?

 

Prior to seeking body corporate air conditioning installation permission

Prior to lodging your request, 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, and may even specify a list of approved providers that can carry out the installation.

There may be further conditions that you need to meet such as ensuring the colour of the unit and associated pipes is in keeping with the finishes of the building or the operating noise does not exceed a certain number of decibels.

 

Obtaining 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, and request that they address the following details in their quotation:

  1. The proposed location of the compressor and associated pipes/wiring
  2. Where the condensate waste will be discharged
  3. The operating noise of the unit/system
  4. What access they need for the installation
  5. Whether they will remove all the associated packaging and waste after installation is complete
  6. Their license number and details of their insurance coverage.

 

Seeking air conditioning installation 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 all together.

 

  • Committee approval

The committee can approve the installation of air conditioning by a lot owner provided:

  • 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 percent of voting owners) at a general meeting to go ahead with the installation.

If your AGM has just passed that means you could be waiting another 12 months before you have the necessary permission to go ahead and install your air conditioner.

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.

 

Who is responsible for body corporate air conditioner maintenance?

As the owner, you are responsible for maintaining your air conditioning unit and all associated parts, unless otherwise agreed upon.

Case study from a strata owner

Lilly and Alex wanted to install air conditioning into their newly purchased apartment. They provided the conditions of the relevant by-laws to a local installer. The installer inspected the property and provided a quote with a drawing of the proposed location of compressor, pipes and wiring.

Lilly and Alex then submitted the quote and drawings to their committee, who approved the installation to go ahead. On the day of the installation, the air conditioning company showed up unexpectedly early. The drilling into the wall was unbearably loud for their baby so they went for a walk and returned when the drilling was over.

When they returned the wirings and compressor had been installed in a different place to what was agreed upon with the air conditioning company and the committee.

The installers on the day said they were unaware of the positional drawings and had not received a brief by their manager as to the location, so they installed it without asking for advice.  The air conditioning company defended their actions and said the drawings were indicative only and they reserved the right to change the location of the compressor. They demanded an extra $1000 to move the pipes and compressor to the right location. Alex and Lilly were forced to pay the extra amount to satisfy the conditions of the approval.

PICA Group tip

You are responsible to ensure 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 and that you are 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.

PICA Group tip footer

If you’d like to find out more on what you can or can’t do at your body corporate property, click here to download our FREE Community Living guide on building compliance. Or click here to ask a question at StrataFAQ.com.au.