Window Coverings Bedroom

Rental Minimum Standards – Window Coverings

The Residential Tenancies Act details the duties of both rental providers and renters. This includes the minimum provisions the home must have available for the renter or the ‘Rental Minimum Standards’.

The rental minimum standards in relation to window coverings changed on 29th March 2022. All bedrooms and living areas in the home must have blinds or curtains fitted to all of the windows. These blinds and curtains must function to block light and provide privacy for the renter.

Chain driven roller blinds are common in rental properties due to their effectiveness and affordability. These blinds present a hazard for young children when installed incorrectly. For this reason, all chain and cord operated blinds must comply with strict safety standards.

Child Safety

Loose cords and chains are dangerous for children. Inadequately secured blind cords have been the cause of many injuries and even deaths in young children. The ACCC have released a safety alert with some great tips to ensure the corded window coverings in your home are child safe.

If the cords or chains on your blinds are unsecured, homeowners can order free curtain and blind cord safety kits through Consumer Affairs Victoria. Renters concerned about the safety of their blinds must contact their rental provider to arrange a contractor.

Homeowners can also choose invest in motor driven mechanisms for blinds which removes the need for chains and cords to operate blinds completely. While this may be a more expensive alternative, it may just save a life!

Safety Standards 

The Competition and Consumer Act sets out the mandatory requirements for the installation of corded window coverings. The standard stipulates that cords must be at least 1,600mm from floor level and that there must be sufficiently secured or tensioned to prevent the ability to form a 220mm loop. Labelling of installed window coverings must also include manufacturer warning labels and contact details of the person or company responsible for the installation. For more details, the full standard is available online on the Federal Register of Legislation.

Blind installation is often a task homeowners take on themselves as a DIY project. To ensure your installation complies with safety standards use this helpful installation guide from the ACCC.

Even if you are looking to install curtains or blinds yourself, speak to you local blind professionals for advice. Most offer on site measure and quotes and have a wealth of knowledge when it the near endless options when it comes to your window furnishings.

Venatic offer Rental Minimum Standards Inspections to ensure the safety and compliance of your rental property. Schedule your inspection online today or call 0499 524 865 to speak to one of our inspectors.

Do I need a Building and Pest Inspection in gippsland

Do I need a Building and Pest Inspection?

We may be a little biased, but absolutely! A Building and Pest Inspection provides peace of mind in what is the largest investment you will make. That is, at least until you purchase your next home. A building and pest inspection can identify major defects in the home that you will inherit when purchasing the property. When overlooked, these defects could cost thousands of dollars to rectify. 

The journey of purchasing a property is often an emotional process. Thing such as being in what we consider a desirable neighbourhood or having a great outlook can cloud our judgement on the overall condition of the home.

The emotional nature of the property buying process means that issues with the home are often overlooked. When viewing homes, we are looking at how our family is going to function in the spaces the home has to offer. It’s not likely that we crawl amongst the spider webs in the sub floor to assess the homes foundations or jump up through an access hole in the ceiling to have a look through the roof space for an inadequately supported hanging beam. 

Hiring an experienced professional to provide a report on the health of your prospective home provides you confidence. You can be sure that you are informed on any defects in the home which need to be addressed. This gives you the knowledge to make a confident decision on your property purchase.

The Venatic Difference

A Venatic report takes a pragmatic approach to reporting defects to ensure our clients fully understand the defect and its implications on the health the home. Our reports include images, videos, links to more in-depth information and recommendations for finding appropriately qualified tradespeople to further assess and rectify the defects. Venatic strive to alleviate any anxiety our clients may have in relation to defects found in the home. We provide real, actionable advice for each defect so you can move into the property you love on with confidence. 

Venatic provides building and pest inspections throughout Gippsland and surrounding areas. We focus on providing support to clients to make an informed decision on their property investments. Reports include practical advice on how to maintain and protect the health of their investment for the long term.

 

Do I need smoke alarms?

Absolutely! Smoke alarms are compulsory safety devices in every residential building. There must be at least one working smoke alarm on or near the ceiling of each story of the home between the sleeping areas and the rest of the home.

Homes constructed before 1 August 1997 must have at least one battery powered smoke alarm per floor of the home while homes constructed after this date must have smoke alarms connected to 240V mains power. 

Where should smoke alarms should be installed?

It is important to always follow manufacturers installation instructions, there are also general recommendations for the installation of smoke alarms. Generally, they should be installed on or near the ceiling. 

On the ceiling means on the center of the ceiling (or at least 300mm from any wall or cornice).

Near the ceiling means 300mm-500mm off the ceiling.

On a cathedral or sloping ceiling the smoke alarm should be 500mm-1500mm of the highest point of the roof.

Maintaining a Smoke Alarm

It is important to familiarize yourself with your operation manual for specific maintenance guidelines.

Check your smoke alarm is working each month by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds, you can also use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust particles that may affect the performance of the smoke alarm.

A general rule of thumb is to replace smoke alarm batteries when we change our clocks for daylight savings. The CFA now recommends lithium battery operated smoke alarms which have a life of 10 years – removing the need to replace batteries every 6 months. They are becoming increasingly common and provide peace of mind that there is enough charge in battery operated detectors and battery backed up hard wired detectors for the life of the detector. 

Smoke alarms must also be replaced in accordance with the manufacturers recommendations which is generally 10 years. 

Requirements for rental properties 

On March 29, 2021, there were changes to obligations of rental providers under Residential Tenancies Act with regards to Smoke Alarms.

  • Annual smoke alarm safety checks are now mandatory, not just recommended.
  • Smoke alarms that are faulty are now an urgent repair.
  • Renters are now to be provided operation manuals for all installed alarms.

Venatic offer smoke alarm inspections to ensure rental providers comply with these new obligations. These inspections include a detailed report including photo and video evidence of testing, operation manuals of all installed smoke alarms, free replacement of expired and faulty units and free ‘urgent repair’ call outs for 12 months from inspection.

As part of any pre-purchase or pre-sale Venatic inspection, your inspector will perform a smoke alarm safety check and attach an operation manual to your report wherever possible.

What do the CFA Recommend?

While it is mandatory to have one smoke alarm per floor of the home between sleeping areas and the rest of the home, the CFA recommends that in addition to this smoke alarms should be installed in all living areas in bedrooms. 

 Legislation requires that all new homes built after May 2014 with multiple smoke alarms, all of the alarms must be interconnected so if one alarm activates, they all do. Beyond this requirement for new homes, the CFA recommends that all smoke alarms should be interconnected.

 

What to do when your smoke alarm sounds in the event of a fire?

Knowing how to react if a fire occurs in the home can be a matter of life and death. The CFA have put together 6 rules to practice with your family to escape a fire in your home. 

  1. Get down low and stay out of smoke
  2. If it’s safe, close doors on your way out to slow down the spread of fire and smoke. 
  3. Alert other people on your way out of the building 
  4. Get out and stay out 
  5. Meet at a safe place such as the letterbox outside of your home
  6. Call 000 from a mobile or neighbor’s phone. Ask for FIRE

You can find more information on smoke alarms on the CFA website here.

 

Gutters play a vital role when working efficiently by collecting and directing storm water away from the home and preventing damage to the structure of the home.

It is recommended that gutters are regularly inspected and cleaned at least twice yearly.

It is recommended that gutters are inspected and cleaned in early autumn prior to a wet winter period to ensure gutters can effectively direct water away from the home, as well as prior to summer when deciduous trees have lost their foliage, creating a fire hazard.

There are three major concerns with debris accumulating in gutters –  

  • Gutters overflowing into eaves and roof space causing damage.
  • Increased fire risk.
  • Deterioration of gutters.

Your Venatic inspector will inspect the gutters of the home during their inspection and may comment on the overall efficiency of the gutters.

Gutter Overflow

To ensure water does not overflow from gutters back into the structure of the home, overflow measures must be designed to accommodate a 1 in 100-year rain event.

When gutters or downpipes become obstructed or are designed and installed with inadequate drainage provisions, gutters will overflow. No gutter system should allow water to enter the walls or internal structure of the home when overflowing occurs. 

Examples of accepted overflow measures for high fronted gutters include a 10mm gap between the gutter and fascia or a flashing that prevents water ingress behind the fascia as depicted in Figure G1. 

Installation of gutters must be completed by appropriately licensed Plumbers with overflow provisions in accordance with the Plumbing Code of Australia.

diagram of gutters

Fire Risk

Debris left in gutters from the autumn and winter periods present an increased fire risk once dried out in the warmer summer months. 

Flying embers can easily ignite the dry debris in the gutters and spread fire to the roof cavity of the home. The CFA recommend on high fire risk days to check gutters for debris and when fire is in your area to plug downpipes and fill gutters with water. 

When filling gutters with water it is important that gutters are installed to prevent overflow entering the structure of the building.

Deterioration of gutters

If dirt and debris are allowed to build up in gutters, it can lead to the gutters retaining water and remaining moist at the built up areas. This can often lead to an increased rate of deterioration of the gutters, particularly around joins and penetrations. 

Even when gutters appear relatively clear, it is a good idea to flush gutters when inspecting to remove any dirt which may be retaining moisture in the gutter.

Prevention

Regular inspection or cleaning of gutters can be completed as a DIY project or by hiring a professional. There are a number of licensed plumbers who provide gutter cleaning services in the Gippsland area with industrial vacuums who can also assess and repair gutters as required to ensure they are operating efficiently and without risk to the home should they overflow.

To reduce the amount of debris built up in gutters, appropriately installed Gutter guards can prevent larger debris such as sticks and leaf litter entering the gutter system of the home. Homes with gutter guards installed still need to be inspected and cleaned regularly to ensure they continue to operate effectively, and dust and dirt debris are not causing and obstructions to drainage.

Consideration should be made to having an appropriately qualified roofing plumber install a gutter guard system to your gutters as inappropriate installations often inadvertently cause obstructions to build up.

 

It is a legal requirement for any stored heated water to be kept at a minimum of 60ᵒC to prevent the growth of bacteria such as Legionella. However, storing water at this temperature poses scalding risks to users should the water temperature not be reduced before reaching facets and shower heads. 

For example, it takes as little as one second for a full thickness burn from contact with water at 68ᵒC while if the temperature was reduced to 50ᵒC it takes 5 minutes. This risk can be minimised by installing tempering valves in your home.

The recommended bathing temperature is 37-38ᵒC, this should also be considered as a maximum temperature for young children. 

As part of your Venatic inspection, your inspector will measure the temperature from the outlets in the bathroom areas of the home and report on any temperatures over 50ᵒC with a recommendation to seek further advice from an appropriately qualified plumbing contractor. While your system may have been installed in line with regulations at the time of installation and remains compliance, it is worth considering improvements to increase the safety of your home. 

Water supplied to kitchen and laundries is not required to be reduced as appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines may require hotter temperatures to operate efficiently. 

The Regulations 

The Plumbing Code of Australia sets standards that aim to protect residents from illness caused by bacteria such as Legionella while also significantly reducing the risk of scalding.

As mentioned above, all stored heated water must be stored at above 60ᵒC to prevent the growth of bacteria.

Tempering valves are now required for all new builds, bathroom and ensuite renovations to reduce the delivery temperature to a maximum of 50ᵒC for personal hygiene purposes (typically in bathroom areas). It is not a requirement for tempering valves to be installed during replacement of a hot water service or replacement of parts of a hot water service.

For early childhood centres, schools, nursing homes and similar facilities for young, aged, sick or disabled persons the delivery temperature for personal hygiene purposes must not exceed 45ᵒC and be controlled by a thermostatic mixing valve.

Tempering Valves and Thermostatic Mixing Valves 

 Tempering Valves are typically found in the home as a means of reducing the temperature of stored water. 

Thermostatic Mixing Valves are similar in design and can be found in residential settings however, they are more typically found in commercial environments as they are more accurate (within 1ᵒC) and respond more quickly to variations in temperature and pressure. 

These valves can be installed at the water heater itself or can be installed further downstream to reduce the water temperature in specific areas of the home.

Instant/Continuous Flow Hot Water Heaters

As instant hot water heaters do not store heated water, there is no requirement to heat the water above 60 . 

Water heaters complying with AS 3498 are designed with a maximum temperature of 50 C and do not require further tempering. It is worth noting that if the entire home is supplied for this unit, the kitchen and laundry temperature of 50 C may not be appropriate for the appliances in the home. 

Continuous flow water heaters with electronic temperature control are typically supplied with a set default maximum delivery temperature of 55 C or 60 C, if this default setting cannot be reduced to 50 C, installation of a Tempering Valve may be necessary. Alternatively, if the unit is supplied with a set default maximum delivery temperature of  C, it must be marked as such by the manufacturer.

Building Permits

What is a Building Permit?

A building permit is an official document that certifies that a relevant Building Surveyor has given approval to plans and documentation before building activity commences.

The building permit is required for most building work (see information below) and ensures buildings comply with the Building Code of Australia, the Building Act 1993 and Building Regulations 2018 for the purpose of ensuring the safety of those constructing the structure, those using the structure and those who will be around the structure.

What if building work has been completed without a Building Permit?

Your local council has a responsibility to the community to ensure the built environment is safe for use and/or occupation. This includes investigating unsafe or illegal buildings and issuing the appropriate Notice or Order to resolve the issues.

Where council finds work carried out without a permit the council will take steps to achieve a reasonable result for both parties.

The first step is issuing a Building Notice asking the property owner to ‘show cause’ why certain actions should not be carried out.

When the owner does not respond to a Building Notice or does not respond adequately, the Municipal Building Surveyor may issue a Building Order with direction to carry out work to ensure the works comply with building regulations.

An Emergency Order may also be issued by the Municipal Building Surveyor where a danger to life or property exist because of the conditions or proposed use of a building.

When an owner fails to comply with a Building Order or Emergency Order, the Municipal Building Surveyor is empowered to initiate prosecution. Building work completed without a Building Permit is in contravention of Section 16(1) of the Building Act which carries fines of up to $72,180 for a natural person.

From the perspective of an insurance claim, a building permit provides you with evidence that the construction has been checked by a registered building practitioner to ensure it has been completed in accordance with relevant codes and standards. If your building structure is damaged, or a person is injured because of an illegal building addition or alteration you may find your insurance company may not cover your claim.

When a home with illegal building additions or alterations is sold, the buyer of the home assumes responsibility for the illegal building work, therefore due diligence in this area is necessary.

Building Permit History

Throughout the course of their inspection, your Venatic inspector may identify alterations or additions that have been completed on the property and comment on their condition at the time of inspection. Your inspector is not qualified to advise whether these alterations or additions have been approved by way of a building permit however there are a number of avenues to find further information.

If there has been any building work on the home that has been completed under a Building Permit in the las seven (7) years; the Section 32 Vendors Statement will include a copy of any Building Permits and a copy of the associated Home Owner Warranty insurance.

Under Regulation 51 of the Building Regulations 2018 your conveyancer may also request information on Building Permits from the local council to confirm if any alterations or additions to the home were completed under an appropriate Building Permit. It is important to note that the council may not be able to locate a record of all documents relating to the home particularly if it is an older home or located in an outlying area.

Another option for further protection that is becoming increasingly common is for buyers to take out Title Insurance which protects against illegal or unapproved building works, unpaid rates and encroachment.

What kind of works require a Building Permit?

As part of the Building Regulations 2006, building permit requirements are now based on the scope of building work rather than the previous $5,000 limit.

The following table lists common types of building work and whether they are subject to a building permit. Please consult your local council or building surveyor regarding the technical provisions that apply.

Additions

  • Additions to a dwelling or any other building: Permit Required

Alterations

  • Structural alterations to a dwelling or any other building: Permit Required
  • Removal or alteration to a load bearing part of a building: Permit Required

Carports/Garages

  • Construction of a garage/carport larger than 10m2 in area: Permit Required
  • Demolition of freestanding garage/carport, not constructed of masonry, not more than 40m2 in floor area, is not a building on the Heritage Register and the work will not adversely affect the safety of the public or occupiers of the building: No Permit Required

Decks

  • Construction of a deck: Permit Required

Fences

  • Construction of a side or boundary fence up to 2m in height: No Permit Required
  • Construction of a brick front fence more than 1.2m high: Permit Required
  • Construction of a timber front fence less than 1.5m in height and not within 9m or a point of intersection of street alignments: No Permit Required
  • Construction of a boundary fence more than that is more than 1m high, within 9m of the point of the intersection of street alignments: Permit Required
  • Construction of a chain wire tennis court fence: No Permit Required

Masts/Antennas

  • Height more than 3m above the highest point of a building: Permit Required
  • Not attached to a building and height more than 8m above the ground: Permit Required

Pergolas (Unroofed)

  • Not more than 3.6m high, maximum 20m2 in area, and located at the rear of the building to which it is appurtenant: No Permit Required
  • Construction of a pergola located further forward than 2.5m forward of the front wall of a single dwelling: Permit Required

Relocking

  • Reblocking or restumping of an existing building: Permit Required

Retaining Walls

  • Constructed on or near site boundaries (any height) in order to maintain the stability of the adjoining property: Permit Required
  • Construction of a retaining wall 1m or more in height: Permit Required

Roofing

  • Replacement of corrugated iron roofing with concrete or terracotta roofing tiles: Permit Required
  • Replacement of corrugated iron roofing with ‘Colorbond’ or other pre-finished sheeting: No Permit Required

Shed Associated with a Single Dwelling

  • Erection of a freestanding shed, 10m2 or less in area, is no more than 3m in height or if situated within 1m of a boundary, in no more than 2.4m in height, not constructed of masonry and located no further forward than the front wall of the single dwelling: No Permit Required
  • Erection of a shed more than 10m2 in area: Permit Required

Signs

  • More than 1m in height and within 3m of the street alignment: Permit Required
  • More than 8m above ground level and 6m2 in display area: Permit Required

Swimming Pools/Spas

  • Construction of a swimming pool/spa greater than 300mm in depth: Permit Required
  • Swimming pool fencing: Permit Required

Verandahs (Roof Only)

  • Construction of a verandah: Permit Required

Windows

  • Replacement of windows with the same size windows, where no alteration to the opening is required and is not located on the front façade or can be seen from the street: No Permit Required
  • Installation of ‘bay’ or ‘corner’ type windows, where structural alterations are required: Permit Required

Wood Heater

  • Installation of a wood heater (solid fuel burning appliances): No Permit Required

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