Choosing a child friendly strata property
Child safety is the first thing on every parent’s mind. Here are some safety checks you might want to consider while living in a strata property with children.
Buying a house isn’t as affordable as it once was in Australia. It’s no surprise young families are choosing to raise their children in apartments and strata complexes. While Australia is still unsettled by this concept, cities like New York have long been at peace with this due to the lack of space. There are also benefits that come with living in strata properties, such as, the extra amenities.
All new and old strata buildings in Australia should adhere to strict laws and standards, but there are many buildings which don’t meet these requirements… and certainly, not all of them are child friendly.
Before you make a decision, you might want to consider doing research and forming a safety checklist. Here are some factors to help you get started:
- Windows and locks
Every now and then, horror stories pop up in the media about babies falling out of windows. In a bid to prevent this from recurring, most Australian states have updated laws. In March 2018, all strata buildings in New South Wales were required to meet strict window safety device standards.
According to clause 30 of the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016, all windows less than 1.7 metres above the ground are required to be fitted with devices that lock the window from opening more than 12.5 centimetres.
If you don’t think your building meets state regulations you should speak with your strata manager or the committee. Owners corporations are usually responsible for maintaining and repairing common property but the owners corporation can pass a common property rights by-law so individual lot owners are made responsible for installing window safety devices. The other option is for the owners corporation to adopt model by-laws (Schedule 3 of the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2015) which means individual lot owners can install and repair window safety devices in their lot without consent.
- Swimming pools
Swimming pools are a great way to entertain children in summer but it can also pose safety risks. Every year there are fatalities from drowning. While it’s important children are supervised in pools at all times, risk can be minimised by ensuring all amenities meet safety standards and state legislation.
In New South Wales, owners corporations are responsible for ensuring pools adhere to the Swimming Pools Act 1992. Under the act, owners must ensure swimming pools have a child safety barrier surrounding it and the fencing must comply with Australian standards. The law also states a CPR sign must be displayed near swimming pools. If you’re thinking about buying into a strata property with a pool, make sure the seller provides all relevant documentation, such as, a registration certificate from the swimming pool register and a swimming pool certificate of compliance.
Queensland and Victoria have similar legislation. In Queensland, all swimming pools must be registered with the QBCC and have safety barriers which meet a minimum height of 1.2 metres around the full perimeter. Fencing has strict criteria such as the gap between the fence and the ground and rules to ensure the fence is not climbable. In addition, the pool gate is required to open outwards (away from the pool) as well as self close and self latch. Like New South Wales, CPR signs must be displayed.
- Balcony and deck height
There are strict requirements on balconies to prevent serious falls. According to the Building Code of Australia, balcony balustrades, boundaries and decks should be at least one meter in height from the ground. They should be built with sturdy, durable building materials and regularly inspected for wear and tear. The owners corporation are usually responsible for this as they should maintain and repair common areas including boundary walls and structure of the building.
- Noise control
It’s important to find a home which has been built and designed with good sound proofing measures. When you have a baby or a child you don’t want noisy neighbours waking them up and you also don’t want a screaming baby to disturb your neighbours.
To avoid moving into a noisy home you should consider checking the windows, walls, flooring and insulation. Double glazed windows can help reduce noise from outside and some apartments will have additional fake walls or fake ceilings installed to reduce noise travelling from other lots. Another alternative are barrier panels which can be fixed to the outside of walls to reduce sound. Noise can also travel from the hallway so ensure the door is of an adequate material and that there aren’t any big gaps.