Strata buildings are complex. There are common and individual wiring and pipes throughout the structure of the building. And as with everything, the more you have of anything, the greater the chance of something going wrong. Who pays for the water damages? Is it the lot owners or strata, what types of water damages are there?
Types Of Water Issues
When it comes to the type of water damages that can occur in strata buildings, there’s a long list. The possibility of leaks is extremely common. The possibility of seepage throughout the building that can further damage more elements in the structure. Here are the most common water-related damages that occur in strata buildings:
- Leakages of plumbing, taps, or pipes
- Seepage from cracks in the foundation
- Mould, rot, or corrosion from seepage
- Ruptured water pipes
- Roof flashing, tiles, and shingles and rusted roof sheets in need of repairs (including gutter and downpipe leaks and blockages)
With varied pipelines running within the structure often in between walls and underground, it can be difficult to inspect and trace for some leaks (unlike others where the leak may be as a result of saying a washer or toilet seal). In some instances the inspection necessary may require more than just a Plumber, you may require an Engineers or Leak detection specialist or other professional to get to the sources of leaks and bursts in the structure of the buildings.
Maintenance Needs Vs Insurance Claims For Water Issues
When it comes to water issues, there’s no answer that fits all questions. In some instances, water damage may be as a direct result of neglect in relation to maintenance by lot owners or the strata collective. Other times a pipe may burst for no expected cause, and cause damage which is not visible for some time. Insurance has a part to play where appropriate, but it is not in place as a means of replacing routine maintenance.
With a clear indication that there is a leak coming from common property, the strata must get it fixed as soon as possible to prevent and limit any damages that water may cause. The same is said for a Unit Owner. However, this does not mean that lot owners can wait for small leaks to turn into major issues. It is best to take responsibility as soon as possible to prevent the bigger loss, bigger insurance, or maintenance costs. Preventative maintenance is always best where possible. Both the strata and the unit Owners must ensure that they are doing their best to maintain the building and private property.
Therefore, if there is a visible leak, proper maintenance must be carried out at the right time. Insurance claims can only be of assistance in certain circumstances and only once the cause of the water damage issue has been resolved. Moreover, insurance claims are not entertained when there are obvious signs of lack of maintenance on the lot owners or tenants’ side.
Insurance claims are covered mainly where there are sudden accidents or bursts. If leakages or moulds are growing over time, then it is upon the lot owner to get it checked out by a professional beforehand.
How Water Issues Affect Buildings
Water issues can cause immense damage to the structure of the buildings. If there are prolonged issues that lot owners or strata have overlooked, then there will be issues for those living within the buildings.
Proper maintenance is essential to ensure that the living conditions of the buildings are not obstructed. Water issues can severely affect the conditions of different spaces throughout the buildings. If they are not paid attention to, then these might result in excessive repairs and the inability to use homes for owners or tenants.
Walls, ceilings, and roofs might need to be removed and repaired. This is a long process.
The Effect On Future Insurance Premiums And Excesses
Water issues create the majority result of insurance claims and the number of water-related claims continues to rise year on year. As claims histories grow the policy holder (the strata) faces the likely possibility of increased future insurance premiums and excesses or specific excesses imposed on water damage claims in order for the insurer to be able to offer a policy.
The best solution for water issues is that strata and lot owners actively put in balanced efforts to resolve issues when evident and work to undertake any form of preventative maintenance required. With better maintenance at both ends, the group can hope to be less heavily impacted not only by insurance claims and premiums but also by emergency works and repairs.
Tony Johnson of Stratarama chats with Imparta Engineers about Water Issues / Causes / Damaged to Body Corporates
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This article and the information provided represents general advice and does not take into account any specific financial situations, objectives, or needs of an individual or Body Corporate/ Strata Corporation. Before you make any decision about whether to acquire a certain product, you should read the relevant product disclosure statement, policy wording, and/or consult your Insurer.