Hot tips for body corporate remediation projects

A major repair or renovation to an apartment building is a significant undertaking which requires careful planning, clear lines of communication and specialist expert advice.

There is a lot at stake for the owners. A well-managed remediation project will take less time, enhance the reputation of the building and add value to the apartments. A poorly managed project can lead to incomplete repairs and years of delay and frustration.

Here are 10 hot tips for bodies corporate undergoing remediation or renovation projects:

  • Take independent building advice. The body corporate should take advice on building defects and remediation options from independent building professionals. Avoid taking informal advice from others such as the developer or members of the body corporate.
  • Beware of targeted repairs. There can be a temptation to undertake ‘targeted’ or ‘patch’ repairs which are cheaper but essentially cover over problems and do not address the underlying issues. These repairs often fail and result in the need for further repairs in the future. Seek confirmation the proposed repairs will be durable in the long term.
  • Obtain advice on claim options. Consult legal advisors who specialise in building defect claims to identify whether you have a claim against those involved in the construction or certification of the complex for the cost of repair works. All claims are subject to strict limitation periods, so legal advice should be sought as soon as possible.
  • Get the owners on board. Any remediation project needs the support of the owners. This means satisfying the owners the work is necessary and there is a commercial benefit in undertaking the work. Provide a valuation report which sets out the potential capital gain and a business plan with details of the estimated cost and timing of the repair project.
  • Apply for a section 74 scheme. Engage lawyers to apply to the High Court for a repair scheme under section 74 of the Unit Titles Act. This will clarify the basis upon which owners are to be levied for the work and authorise the body corporate to undertake work to both unit and common property, amongst other things. The scheme provides an assurance the project will proceed in an organised and professional manner.
  • Engage a body corporate manager with experience in remediation projects. Body corporate managers who have managed other remedial projects are familiar with the issues that are likely to arise, know the best experts, will have systems that can be used to manage the project and can provide useful advice to owners throughout the project.
  • Put in place clear lines of responsibility. The contractual arrangements between the body corporate, the building professionals and the head contractor are important. Seek legal advice in relation to the contracts. Ensure there is a clear understanding as to the responsibilities of each building professional and who ultimately oversees the work.
  • Appoint an owners representative. An owners representative fulfils an important role in liaising between the building professionals and the owners. He or she provides important information to the owners, such as when they need to vacate their apartments, and can assist with other matters such as finance and alternative accommodation options.
  • Provide regular updates. The body corporate should provide regular updates to the owners so they have a clear understanding of how the project is progressing and have up to date estimates of the costs and timing of the work. Reports from the building experts should be provided to explain any significant changes in the scope of the work.
  • Resolve disputes quickly. If disputes between the body corporate, building professionals and/or the head contractor develop it can result in significant delays to the project or at the conclusion of the project the body corporate may have difficulties obtaining the producer statements it needs from contractors. Address any disputes which arise as soon as possible, and where necessary invoke the dispute resolution process in the contract.

Grimshaw & Co regularly acts for bodies corporate undergoing remedial work projects. We are experts in building defect claims, construction contract disputes, section 74 schemes and the Unit Titles Act 2010. Call us on 09 377 3300 for practical expert advice.