You know installing double glazing into your existing windows will make a huge difference when it comes to battling things like noise pollution, high energy costs, cold draughts, and overheating in the summer. With double glazing, you’ll finally be able to have the quiet, comfortable, energy-efficient home you've always wanted.
But, when you own a strata property in a building or complex, your windows aren’t technically your property – they are owned by the owner’s corporation or body corporate. Which means, no matter how much you know that double glazing is a practical, high-value option for your home, you need to work with building’s executive committee in order to install double glazed windows.
Here’s what you’ll learn about:
Who’s Responsible for Updating Strata Windows?
Here’s the thing – your windows, even your draughty, single glazed living room windows overlooking a noisy street, with traffic sounds that seem to get worse every year, are technically common property. In a strata building, all windows and external doors are owned by the body corporate because they are a part of the building structure.
As a result, it’s up to the strata committee to take care of maintenance and repairs of the windows. So, on one hand, you don’t have to worry about replacing the original flyscreens when they are damaged or paying for windows that are out of your reach to be professionally cleaned. Your windows are also insured through the policy that’s set up through the body corporate.
And, it’s also the body corporate’s job to decide when to replace the original windows and to then maintain those new windows. Which means you don’t have the freedom to make the decision to double glaze your windows on your own.
How to Double Glaze Windows as a Strata Property Owner
That’s a problem for a lot of strata property owners. What happens when you have to deal with noise, draughts, and the energy waste of a poorly insulated home? Instead of being able to install double glazed windows like an owner of a separate building would, when you own a unit in a strata building, you have to take an extra step before you can enhance your windows.
The reality is, many strata buildings still have the original, outdated single glazed windows in place. If you live in a Heritage building, you’re even more likely to be dealing with the original windows because, until recently, there were only limited solutions for double glazing Heritage windows properly.
From traffic sounds to poor thermal insulation, living in a unit with single glazed windows can get extremely uncomfortable. The good news is, you do have control over your windows, even if they are technically classified as common property within the strata complex.
What you can do as a strata property owner is request a special resolution to be passed so you can install double glazing into your existing windows. You may also need to get a special bylaw enacted that will grant you responsibility for your windows going forward.
Because there are so many advantages to installing double glazing into your existing windows – as well as options for double glazing Heritage windows without ruining their original appearance – requesting a resolution to upgrade windows is becoming more and more common across Australia. Your strata management council will likely be more than happy to comply. But, you’ll want to consider a few things first to make the process easier for everyone, and to quickly convince the body corporate that passing a special resolution for your windows won’t detract from the aesthetics or quality of the original building everyone lives in.
If you’re looking into double glazing your strata windows, here’s what you need to keep in mind before you get started.
1. In a strata building, all the windows need to look the same
One of the biggest issues with making any changes to external features is aesthetic uniformity. With a strata building, all the owners share the same premises so you can’t just change the external appearance of your home, which includes the windows. Even something as seemingly minor as installing new windows could be a major issue because the frames could look different, ruining the overall appearance of the building.
Not only is this an aesthetic issue but ruining the original look could also reduce the value of all the units in the building. This is part of the reason why a body corporate needs to stick with a formal process for approving changes – otherwise, the decisions of individual homeowners could quickly impact other owners within the building.
When choosing to install double glazing, you’ll need to choose a window system that will maintain the original charm and look of the windows.
2. If you live in a Heritage building, you may need special approval for double glazing
Today, a lot of value is placed on preserving the look and functionality of Heritage properties. If you happen to own a home in a Heritage building, you’ll need to be extra diligent in choosing a window company to install your double glazing into your existing heritage windows.
Make sure you work with a company that has experience installing double glazing in Heritage homes. You’ll also likely need to get special approval from your local council to upgrade your windows.
As we take a sustainable approach to double glazing, at Thermawood we use a unique process when we retrofit double glazing into timber windows, which preserves the original joinery. In fact, we have been approved by the Heritage Council to work on Grade 1 and State-Listed properties such as the building below so you – and your building’s strata committee or body corporate – know the original frame and appearance will be preserved.
3. The installation process can’t change or damage the original building
When you have new double glazed windows installed, your window installers will have to rip out the original windows. This can damage the cladding and the structure around the windows. Even when your new windows are installed, and everything is repaired, you may have to alter the original building in the process.
In a strata situation, this isn’t acceptable. That’s why, before you approach your building’s governing body, you need to know you’re working with a window company that knows how to leave the original building intact.
4. You may not be able to have much work done to your windows on-site
Just as your strata management council won’t want you to hire a vendor to rip out your original windows, they also might be resistant to having a lot of work done on-site. On-site work can lead to a mess whilst the work is being done, and a headache for the other homeowners.
You’ll have an easier time getting approval if you can have most of the work done off-site. Ideally, the actual installation process will only take a few hours. The more seamless your double glazing installation, the more comfortable the body corporate decision-makers will be with the change.
5. Any painting can’t disrupt the look of the building
When it comes to painting your double glazed windows, the paint has to look exactly the same as the original paint. This can be a challenge, especially if you need a special Heritage paint colour.
It’s not enough to use a similar colour. You’ll want to work this detail out with your window installers before the installation is done for a flawless finished look. Ensure the paint matches and find out about getting a special paint if you need a Heritage colour.
6. You need to do your homework and materials preparation before discussing your plans with the body corporate
Before your meeting with the body corporate or strata committee, it’s important to have all your materials ready. You can talk to a local solicitor to ensure you have everything in order. They can also draft a special bylaw for you and help you with any extra considerations for Heritage windows.
It’s a good idea to do your research on double glazing – what materials can be used, how the process can work, and the difference between new and retrofit double glazing.
You also want to make sure you know exactly what you want from your windows, whether you want thicker glass or a wider air gap to increase the acoustic performance of your windows or if you want to use a special type of glass. The more details you can present the body corporate with, from the certifications of the window company to validation that the original look of the building will be preserved, the faster they’ll be able to pass your resolution. Thermawood can assist and advise you on this by providing their many years of experience and knowledge of these types of jobs in particular.
Why Retrofit Double Glazed Windows Are the Best Option for Strata Properties
Fortunately, with today’s advanced window technology, it is possible to have double glazed windows without harming the original window frames or changing anything about the structure or functionality of the existing windows.
With Thermawood’s Retrofit Double Glazing System, your original timber frames remain in place. We’ve developed a patented process that’s designed for double glazing Heritage windows or other timber windows where you don’t want to lose all the beauty and charm of the originals.
- Using a unique tooling process, we make small changes to the existing timber frame to encourage proper drainage – this ensures your windows will far outlast other windows by preventing moisture damage.
- Then, we remove the single glazing and install your insulated glass unit, or IGU, which consists of the double glazing and an air space.
- The entire installation process takes place in less than a day – and because we’re retrofitting your existing windows, there’s no need to tear out your frames or risk any damage to the wall cladding or other materials.
Because we frequently install double glazing for strata units, we understand the unique needs of strata property owners. That’s why we make sure to do any work off-site if it is required, that isn’t specifically related to installing the IGU.
We do all the work on the IGU off-site, including any painting or necessary refurbishment work. For Heritage windows, we can also source special hardware to match the original hardware. We’ll also ensure your windows function perfectly and that the sashes move easily.
The end result is as flawless as any window installation process can be today. You’re left with better thermal insulation, keeping your come comfortable in all seasons. You’ll have enhanced acoustic performance, giving you a quieter home. And, you’ll even enjoy superior indoor air quality with Thermawood’s advanced window drainage system. When we install our Retrofit Double Glazing System, you won’t have to worry about moisture build-up, which can eventually damage the double glazing and contribute to the growth of mould and mildew in your home.
And, perhaps the best part for strata property owners, your building's body corporate will be just as satisfied as you are with the results. The windows will look exactly the same, so the original appearance of the building will be preserved. The only difference will be your newly quiet, peaceful, comfortable home.
To learn more about double glazing windows, contact the professionals at Thermawood today.