As the March 13 deadline for fitting child-safe strata window locks approaches, the backlog of orders from panicky committees and strata managers is keeping the state’s window specialists extremely busy. Keeping the process simple will make life easier for them, minimise your costs and increase your chances of achieving compliance by the due date.
Depending on the size and design of your building, the total cost of installing and certifying all the requisite strata window locks may be substantial. It is understandable that committees want to know exactly what they are up for before they place their order. However, in this instance, insisting on a firm up-front quote will not only increase the ultimate cost, it will also send you to the back of the queue.
Those installers who offer firm quotes will usually charge around $300 to do so – and the quote will come with so many caveats that it may still not resemble the final price. Without inspecting every unit in the block, even an experienced installer can only estimate what they will find when they get there. And anybody who has ever tried to coordinate a building full of owners to open their doors on a particular day knows how vexed that can be. The good thing is you don’t need to.
There are numerous different types of strata window locks to suit numerous different types of windows. Some prevent windows ever being opened more than a crack while others can be overridden with a key. Don’t waste your time with the former. Every occupant will ultimately want to open their window. If the lock prevents that from happening the occupant will probably remove it. Regardless of who took the lock away, this leaves the Owners Corporation liable. Insisting that only compliant, key operated, overridable locks are fitted makes sense for the scheme and makes things easy for the installer.
Strata window locks also vary in quality. Choosing locks is like choosing paint – don’t waste your time with the cheap stuff. The cost of replacing broken or seized locks will quickly eclipse any initial savings. Ask your installer to quote on fitting only those locks they recommend for your situation. And ask them if they warrant the work and the devices. An experienced installer should be able to estimate the life expectancy of their preferred locks in your building. Remember, strata window locks are always exposed to the elements, so if you are subject to salt air, be prepared to pay a premium for long lasting locks.
So keep it simple. If you know the cost per lock (installed and tested) and you have chosen the right locks in advance, chances are you will get what you need and pay only for what you get. Remember also to get a price for testing only, to cover those circumstances where the owner has already installed compliant locks. Once the work is done, ensure the installer accompanies the compliance certificate with an inventory showing the quantity of each type of lock installed in each unit and common area. If you want to do a spot check of a few units, you can. Then do the math and pay the bill.
Complying with the window safety provisions of the new Act is a complex and time-consuming process. A good strata manager will look after the planning and coordinate the installation. Just don’t insist that they give you a fixed quote in advance.