Seminar: Budgeting Wisely For Peaceful, Stress-Free Apartment Living | Owners Corporation Network

Seminar: Budgeting Wisely For Peaceful, Stress-Free Apartment Living

The future of apartment living

Speaker: Chris Johnson, the NSW Government’s executive director of urban renewal in the Department of Planning and the former Government Architect

Chris spoke of a future of apartment-living, where up to half of all households could end up living in strata. His masterplan for the future of Sydney includes many more apartments to save on precious land area and accommodate the 1,000 extra people moving into the city each week, with much more thought put into their planning.

Under his master plan, mini-cities will be created at Green Square, Hurstville will have a series of Spanish plazas, Parramatta will be redeveloped to take more advantage of its riverside location and Alexandria will have a more defined urban village. The core theme to the plan has commercial, retail and residential space, mixed use, built into towers close to existing train stations.

"I think the past thinking that you had to have office buildings separate from residential and separate from retail and separate from educational is old thinking," he told us. He said his plans were on a grander scale than City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore's plan to have urban villages within the CBD.

That Sinking Feeling: How to Budget For the Future Without Breaking The Bank Now

Speaker: David Leary of Leary & Partners, a leading company in the field which regularly inspects buildings around the country, and has the largest clientele of strata-titled asset reporting work in Australia.

David's notes on Sinking Fund Forecasts: text

Ever Considered A Loan?

Speaker: Paul Morton of Lannock Strata Finance, one of the top three companies in Australia to provide loans to strata schemes.

Paul's presentation: text

Speaker: Miles Beamish, Finlease

With strata loans becoming increasingly accepted and utilised within the strata industry we often hear the same questions from interested strata owners, managers and suppliers. To help those interested in assessing the merits of a strata loan versus a special levy or deferral of works until sufficient funds are available, we thought it was timely to answer those most frequently asked questions:

How much can a strata borrow?

A strata can borrow from as little as $5,000 to as much as $500,000 subject to lending criteria. Amounts in excess of $500,000 can also be negotiated if required.

What security is required?

These strata loans are unsecured, namely there is no requirement for owner’s personal guarantees, no charge over common property or charges over the strata’s levies.

Is it expensive?

The interest rate charged will vary based on the amount financed and the term of finance sought, however it is comparable with other forms of unsecured personal loan products available in the market.

Are repayments fixed?

All strata loans currently available in the market have a fixed interest rate set at the original day of settlement. This ensures certainty for the owners in their repayments over the term of the loan and are not at the mercy of changing interest rates over the same term.

Are the loans interest only?

All of these loans are fully amortising, therefore by the end of the contracted finance term there is no more monies owing.

Can we use the money for any purpose?

From painting, to new lifts and balconies, rendering, security systems, roof replacements, paying those ever increasing insurance premiums and more, the fact that these loans are treated as ‘unsecured’ does not limit the scope of works and services to be approved.

Can we have more than one loan?

Subject to credit approval, you can have multiple loans for your strata, drawndown at your discretion with each loan documented separately. A line of credit option may suit these requests and is an appropriate way to fund some larger projects that may entail staggered payments to key suppliers or project managers.

Speaker: Bill Debney, Strata Finance

How can owners corporations keep the many owners happy, ensure the building is a great place to live, deliver strong rental returns for investors and achieve the highest price at sale time? What are the most effective ways to improve the capital value of an owners property?

  • Use 100 per cent of your own money for 100 per cent of the benefit
  • Share the costs and the benefits using our money
  • Save on the costs
  • Build and use the equity
  • Use the flexibility and savings to your advantage
  • Achieve a significant tax break for investor owners

Waking Up The Neighbours!

Introduced by Brian Wood of The Observatory’s EC

Noise is the Number 1 problem reported in apartment living, so we look at how peaceful our buildings should be – and what to do when they’re not.

The first speaker was Jon Farren, manager of the Sydney office of Marshall Day Acoustics, an international practice specialising in architectural and environmental acoustic design. Jon has worked as a consultant in Australia, New Zealand and Europe, with considerable practical experience in a range of building acoustics projects including residential developments.

Jon's presentation: text

Then we heard from three companies in the business of banishing noise problems from homes.

The first speaker was Adrian Lafleur of Magnetite, which produces an ingenious secondary glazing window system.

Adrian's presentation: text

The second speaker was Sam Fletcher of Soundblock Solutions which offers a complete range of insulation and noise control products for domestic use.

Soundblock Solutions offers a wide range of solutions for common noise problems that people experience today. You may be aware there have been some changes to the Building Code of Australia concerning noise control. The Building Code of Australia was revised in 2004 replacing the original requirements. These changes have been put in place as a result of the large number of noise problems associated with our lifestyle – predominantly for unit living.

Most of today’s units built are built under the old BCA requirements. Noise transfer between units will most likely be a problem as people have greater expectations for noise mitigation today. Exposure to noise has been linked to sleep deprivation, annoyance and health issues such as hypertension and heart disease. The stress caused by neighbour’s noise can be so distressing that it can lead to violence between them. A bit like road rage – perhaps we could describe it as ‘unit rage’!

Over the past 30 years, I have been involved in the building industry to assist in undertaken many projects requiring solutions for a myriad of noise problems. These noise problems have been in hotels, restaurants, factories and residential homes and apartments. We also work closely with an accredited acoustical engineer, who is available to provide detailed Noise Assessment Reports to anybody who requires it.

Apartment or unit living is difficult enough and with excessive noise penetrating through windows, floors, ceiling, walls, doors and even through water pipes the experience can be extremely unpleasant. These problems can be assessed and the right acoustic treatment can be recommended.

Windows are often the main cause of noise problems from outside sound. Traffic noise, people noise and general environmental noise can be very annoying. Investigations often reveal that the glazing is only thin 3 mm thickness glass which is not very effective in stopping noise.

Everybody has heard of double glazing. However Soundblock Solutions can offer an innovative and cost effective solution to double glazing. This can be done easily by installing a secondary acoustic window system inside the existing window, effectively double glazing the window.

Double glazing is effective due to an air gap between the two windows which means having an internal window inside the existing window with an air gap of up to 100 mm. This air gap is very important. It will provide a noise reduction of over 80% for the window.

Soundblock Solutions offers two methods for installing a secondary window. The first is a magnetic window and the second is an acoustic sliding aluminium window which is installed inside the existing window.

The magnetic window is a cheap alternative if the noise reduction being sought is not excessive. However if the noise is predominantly from traffic with low frequency levels from trucks, then an acoustic sliding aluminium window will be more effective.

Once the windows have been treated, the next major source of noise annoyance is noise that penetrates through floors and walls. Everybody who has experienced apartment and unit living will know the annoyance of someone walking on the ceiling above them or playing loud music in the room next door. Current trends towards the use of timber floors often replacing carpets, has highlighted the problem of inter unit noise

There are many ways that noise from floors and ceilings can be correctly acoustically treated.

In areas where there are carpeted floors the most effective way to reduce noise impact is to install Soundblock acoustic underlay under the carpet. The product has two benefits. One, it can reduce the impact noise of people walking on the floor and secondly it reduces airborne noise from voices, television and radios. It is simple to install and any carpet layer can install it.

If you are laying a floating timber floor, which is becoming a very common thing to do, Soundblock Solutions can offer a number of products that can be used under the floating timber floor to achieve adequate noise control. Body Corporate sometimes requests an acoustical engineer’s assessment prior to the work being carried out.

If you are the recipient of someone who has installed a timber floor above you without taking the correct acoustic measures the most practical solution is to install a secondary ceiling in the downstairs area. This can be done by fixing sheets of plasterboard with installation under the existing ceiling. This treatment can reduce both impact noise and air borne noise by over 80%.

If the noise is penetrating through a wall the same acoustic treatment as for the ceiling can be used by adding a secondary internal wall. This would guarantee over 80% noise reduction.

Another noise problem is noise from the foyer of modern apartments due to the hard surfaces that are installed. Most entry doors are solid core doors to achieve fire rating; however, many are missing the most important noise control - seals around the door. Once the seals are installed, the noise can be reduced dramatically. Soundblock Solutions can supply and install the seals.

Another noise common to both apartment living and also residential houses is noise from water pipes. If the pipes are accessible they can be acoustically wrapped with a Pipe Wrap. Soundblock Solutions can both supply and install pipe wrap.

Whilst I have only outlined briefly the scope of Soundblock Solutions, the most important aspect is that Soundblock Solutions provide you with a “one stop shop” for acoustic control.

Soundblock Solutions can offer a large variation of products and solutions rather than a company that supplies only one product.

We offer the best product to give the best solution to solve any noise problem. Our installation people have been trained to ensure that the product is installed acoustically correct.

Soundblock Solutions can help you – try us when you next need an acoustic solution.

A third company is Soundbarrier Systems.

The Panel

Lastly came The Panel, with a selection of top strata lawyers and experienced EC members answering pressing questions from the floor.

The Panel comprised:

Chair – Jimmy Thomson, co-author of the book Apartment Living, and the Sydney Morning Herald's apartments expert and Flatchat columnist

Stephen Goddard, OCN Chair, strata lawyer and former chair of Regis Towers

Brian Wood, long-time member of Observatory EC

Stephen Falkiner, Chair Community Association, Jacksons Landing

Sue Williams, co-author of Apartment Living and Secretary of Altair EC

Gerard Doyle, a senior associate at strata lawyers Andreones.

Speaker Contacts

David Leary
Leary & Partners Pty Ltd
Tel 1800 808 991

Paul Morton
Lannock Strata Finance
Tel 1300 851585

Miles Beamish
Tel 02 9959 3122
Mobile 0410 774 506

Bill Debney
Strata Finance
Tel 02 8231 9417

Adrian Lafleur
Magnetite (Australia) Pty Ltd
Tel 02 9565 4070

Sam Fletcher
Soundblock Solutions
Tel 02 9327 7410
Mob: 0418 409504

Tony Angel
Soundbarrier Systems
Tel 0417 275 375

More Information: 

What Members Say

"The whole strata community owes a huge debt of gratitude to you and the OCN executive. Much appreciated."

Robert, Darlinghurst

"I am very pleased with my membership of OCN, the discussions through sharing emails is very valuable in increasing my knowledge of strata living, the laws and EC responsibilities. I think I am better armed to tread the minefield of the managing agent responsibilities and the necessary action of the EC to monitor the contradictory interests of the agent."

Jim, Wollstonecraft

"I so appreciate being part of the OCN email forum. It provides a great opportunity for sharing ideas and learning"

Ingrid, Neutral Bay

"I must say that I have enjoyed and found consolation in the discussions that have been part of the email chain (forum). I did attend one general meeting and found that it was informative and the people "running the show" were knowledgeable and dedicated to the tasks that had taken on. In short, well done. You and the committee have and continue to support the Strata Community in a very professional manner."

Greg, Parramatta

"Nothing is easy in Strata World and we have been in building defects “mode” for some years – hopefully almost at an end but that process has been most demanding and difficult but again – greatly helped by the experience and wise counsel of other members of OCN."

Pat, St Leonards

"Keep up the good work, as many (if not most) strata schemes need your help, advice and representation at all levels of government."

Jann and John, St Ives

"I belong to OCN because of its professionalism.  I have found the meetings I have been to extremely well presented, to the point, and of course very topical and informative. Speakers on the whole certainly know their topic.  My role of Secretary last year was certainly assisted with the coverage regarding TPG & other subjects. Member newsletters are also of benefit as the topics are specific to strata matters."

Graham, East Balmain

I have enjoyed attending the quarterly OCN meetings and the exchange of emails between other Executive Committee Members and think OCN is playing an increasingly important role as a voice for strata dwellers and representing us at Government level. I wish the organisation continuing success in the future."

Pauline, Kings Cross

"The [forum] response to my question was amazing and really useful.  The OCN community is wonderful so thanks."

Jenny, Killara

"I would like to thank you all for the important effort that you are all putting in to look after apartment owners and tenants. It is so valuable and you are heroes. I would not have been able to deal with my duties as a strata chairman without your advice and assistance." 

Angela, Mascot

"The OCN is invaluable – many thanks."

Bill, Surry Hills

"OCN is proving invaluable"

Sue, Neutral Bay

"Thanks to all at OCN for your continuing efforts to keep us up to date with current strata information and has been very helpful to us"

Kate, Coogee

"When my wife & I first encountered a problematic Executive Committee I heard that OCN was a great help (from a Strata manager whom I knew) so we both joined and have gratefully used the on-line information sources. We continued to happily rely on OCN’s assistance when we progressed to Committee status & later as Chair & Secretary of our Committee. I still use OCN in my current role as Treasurer."

Peter, Chiswick

"Thanks to OCN for being such a rich resource of trustworthy information about strata matters."

Peter, Chiswick

"I wanted to extend my personal thanks for the very informative & interesting event today. The OCN team did an outstanding job in the organisation of this event & I enjoyed it thoroughly. The quality of speakers, the flow of conversation & interaction from the attendees - first class …& of course, the amazing Jimmy T - always a delight."

Sue, Epping

"OCN does a great job in providing a really valuable service to Strata owners."

Lois, Wollongong

"I am sure my appreciation of your good works is echoed by many in the Stratasphere. Keep up the good work."

John, Elizabeth Bay

"The OCN is probably one of the best, most informed and most informative groups I have been involved with."

Alan, Maryville

"Once again, being able to discuss such things through this forum, helps clear the mind, puts things into perspective and helps one to understand their rights and to form a strategy if needs be. As a simple EC member trying to do what is in the best interests of lot owners, I truly value OCN and am grateful."

Pamela, Point Lookout