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I am purchasing a flat in Brisbane, Queensland Australia. Prior to purchase, I had the building inspected and they've noted that the balcony balustrade doesn't meet height requirements for my jurisdiction.

Specifically:

  • The balcony is more than 1 meter above the ground.
  • The balustrade is not quite 1 meter high.

The structure was built in the 1970s, prior to the regulations being put into place. If I take ownership of the property as is, am I obligated to replace the balustrade?

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    This would be a question for a lawyer. While we do cover code type questions (what is/isn't code compliant), who is responsible for what is a legal issue and may be off topic here. – Tester101 May 17 '13 at 11:46
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    Generally, the rule is that if it was to code when built, it can remain. However, once you start work on it, you'll need to bring it up to code. This general rule may vary by jurisdiction, and you'll need professional legal advice. – Chris Cudmore May 17 '13 at 12:28
  • Most code I have seen around balconies and decking have a requirement and also a new home owner/city inspection requirement. Meaning that his balcony code might say 1 meter and replacement might be required upon city inspection of anything less than 80 cm. – DMoore May 17 '13 at 21:51
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We would have to talk to your building department to answer that question. For something like this there may be a serious safety issue. If a small child got hurt or someone got knocked over you would be liable if you didn't fix it and knew about it...

It is customary in the US to get the replacement cost of something that isn't code built into the price of the house. If it costs $1000 to fix then I would expect to pay about 1K less for the house. Also in the US (and I am pretty sure Australia) that you must disclose the issue to other potential buyers once one inspection finds the issue. Meaning too that if you buy the house and potentially want to sell you have to tell everyone looking at your house about the issue.

Also you might need to think out of the box. I don't have a picture of your balcony but if it is pretty close to 1 meter - then how about a decorative top plate on top of your current setup? This would be cheap, easy, and a DIY.

  • Nice. Good idea about just "building on top of" the current fixture. – Anthony May 17 '13 at 6:23

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