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Preparing for Rain, Hail, or Shine: How to Weatherproof Your Strata Building

Australia's diverse climate brings its own set of challenges for strata buildings. From scorching summer sun to torrential rain, and even the occasional hailstorm, Strata Managers, Insurance Brokers, and lot owners must be prepared for all sorts of weather events.

At CHU, we’ve seen almost everything in our 45 years of insuring strata buildings in Australia. This article outlines steps to weatherproof your strata building and protect your investment, regardless of the elements.

1. Do your research:

Begin by assessing the specific weather risks your strata building faces. In Australia, this can range from bushfires, to flooding to cyclones with some areas prone to these events more than others. Due to climate change, these events have been more frequent and severe so it is important to get as much up to date information as you can from local weather experts and meteorological services to understand the historical weather patterns and potential risks in your area.

2. Review Your Insurance Coverage:

Ensure your strata building is adequately covered for all weather-related events, it is important to understand what your insurance covers and that your sum insured covers you for the full replacement value of the building. When was the last time you had your building valued? A lot has changed in these inflationary times in terms of costs to rebuild, costs of labour and materials, so it is important to have an up-to-date valuation. When it comes to your insurance policy, discuss the inclusion of flood or even consider selecting optional Catastrophe coverage. If disaster strikes, such as bushfire or cyclone earthquake, Catastrophe cover comes into effect when the Insurance Council of Australia declares a catastrophe by issuing a catastrophe code. It covers the increased cost of building and repairs, due to the huge demand for builders and tradespeople.

3. Implement Regular Maintenance:

Prevention is better than cure.  Maintenance is key to weatherproofing your strata building. Develop a maintenance schedule that includes regular inspections of the roof, gutters, and drainage systems. Ensure that any loose or damaged roofing materials are promptly repaired to prevent leaks during heavy rain. Trim trees, overhanging branches, and clear piles of leaves.

4. Clear your Drainage Systems:

Effective drainage systems are crucial to handle heavy rainfall and prevent water damage. Clean and maintain gutters and downpipes regularly, ensuring they are free from debris. Consider installing or upgrading stormwater management systems to redirect water away from the building.

5. Develop an Emergency Plan and know who to call:

Most buildings have representatives on their body corporate/strata committee who volunteer as fire wardens and/or safety officers. Ensure that all residents are aware of evacuation routes and safety protocols. CHU has emergency contact numbers for insurance brokers, strata managers, lot owner and has created a specialised CAT (catastrophe) team of experienced claims consultants ready and able to help post a major weather event.

6. Keep Everyone Informed and Educated:

It is important to introduce and educate new owners and residents about weather-related risks and procedures.  Encourage them to take individual precautions, such as securing personal belongings during storms and preparing emergency kits with essential supplies.

7. Engage Professionals:

Prevention is better than cure, when conducting assessments of your building - it is important to engage professionals like building engineers, arborists, and roofing contractors to assess and where possible rectify any potential risks.

8. Consider a plan for upgrading the building envelope:

The building envelope encompasses all the exterior elements of a building that separate the interior conditioned spaces from the exterior environment. This includes walls, roofs, floors, windows, doors, insulation, and any other components that form a barrier between the inside and outside of the building.

Consider investing in weather-resistant materials and construction techniques to strengthen the building envelope. There has been a lot of advancement in materials for these types of construction elements – if your building is quite old, retrofitting and replacing some of these elements may be a costly exercise but it will pay off in the long run, not only protecting the building from weather events, but it can also save you electricity, keep you warmer, cooler and quieter in your home environment. This might be something the owner’s corporation needs to consider creating a special levy or fund and plan for the future.

9. After an Event:

If a disaster does strike, it is best to act swiftly. Reach out to the residents or conduct a quick inspection of the property to see if any damage has occurred if it is safe to do so. If damage has been incurred, gather as much information about the units or common property that has been damaged including any contact details for residents affected. Get in touch with your strata manager, insurance broker or insurer directly who will be able to assist with make safe, repairs and possibly temporary accommodation.

Preparing your strata building for all types of weather events is a proactive approach to safeguarding your property investment and of course the safety of all residents. By conducting risk assessments, maintaining your property, and staying informed, you can weatherproof your strata building against the ever-changing Australian climate.

Remember, when it comes to protecting your strata property, it is better to be overprepared than unprepared for these types of weather conditions. Contact CHU or your insurance broker to get a quote on comprehensive residential strata insurance or to learn more about what is covered in your policy in terms of weather events.