As a community scheme, safety and security are paramount. It’s essential to keep a close eye on the condition of our shared structures, such as boundary walls, to ensure the well-being of residents and visitors. In this article, we will discuss how to handle a leaning high boundary wall and the steps your body corporate or homeowners’ association (HOA) should take to address the issue responsibly.
Here is our 10-point checklist to help you deal with a leaning boundary wall:
- Prioritise safety
The safety of residents and visitors should be the primary concern when dealing with a leaning boundary wall. If there is an immediate risk of collapse or potential harm, swift action is crucial. Secure the area and consider evacuating people from the vicinity until the situation is resolved.
2. Seek professional inspection
Engage the expertise of a qualified structural engineer or building inspector to conduct a thorough assessment of the wall’s condition. Their evaluation will reveal the extent of the damage and uncover the underlying causes of the leaning. Based on their recommendations, you can make informed decisions on how to proceed.
3. Document the damage
Before any repairs or actions take place, document the condition of the leaning wall. Capture detailed photographs from multiple angles and provide written descriptions. This documentation will prove invaluable for insurance claims and potential legal proceedings. Remember to include dates and timelines for accurate reference.
4. Review insurance and disclose
Review your insurance policy to determine the extent of coverage for damages to structures like boundary walls. While specific perils such as storms or accidental damage may be covered, gradual wear and tear are usually not included. Disclose all relevant information to the insurer, to ensure conditions of cover are met and to avoid future claim unhappiness and disputes.
5. Prevent further damage
Take immediate steps to prevent further harm or deterioration of the wall. Depending on the severity of the leaning, consider installing temporary bracing or fencing to secure the area and prevent unauthorised access.
6. Assess repair or replacement options
Once the structural engineer’s assessment is known, discuss and decide on the appropriate course of action with the trustees. Options may include reinforcing the wall, rebuilding it, or exploring alternatives such as fences or hedges less prone to structural issues. Keep the insurance adviser fully appraised.
7. Obtain multiple quotes
For necessary repairs or replacements, obtain quotes from licensed and reputable contractors. This ensures competitive pricing and helps you make an informed decision. For larger projects, consider hiring a project management team and follow a tender process where appropriate.
8. Compliance and permits
Adhere to local authority regulations and obtain any necessary building permits for repair work or wall replacement. Non-compliance could lead to legal and insurance complications. Check whether additional plans are required for the proposed work.
9. Communication with residents:
Transparency is key during this process. Keep residents and non-resident owners informed about the situation, the planned actions, and any safety measures they need to take. Open communication builds trust within the community.
10. Embrace risk mitigation
Implement a regular maintenance and inspection program for all structures on the property in line with a 10-year maintenance plan. Proactive measures help identify and address potential issues before they escalate into significant problems.
By prioritising safety, seeking professional advice, and maintaining open communication, your body corporate or HOA can effectively address a leaning boundary wall. Taking prompt action and following a diligent approach will not only safeguard the community but also foster a sense of security and unity among residents. Remember, working together ensures a stronger and safer community for all.
*Watch our short video where Mike Addison provides a 10-point action plan for a scheme’s trustees to follow where a wall is leaning.
**Use this handy cheat sheet for the 10-point checklist in summary.
Author: Mike Addison
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