Why Buy A House In A Body Corporate Layered Scheme?

body corporate layered schemeWhen we think of body corporates we tend to think of the towers that dominate our city skylines.

In reality body corporates come in all shapes and sizes including an increasing number of single house blocks contained within a large body corporate layered schemes.

These type of master planned communities work exactly the same as other housing developments: you buy and develop your block yourself. You are responsible for all the building and associated works on the lot.

But the lot is contained within a body corporate and you will be responsible for paying levies and observing by-laws, just like any other body corporate.

More in fact because effectively you’re actually a member of at least two body corporates.

So it’s more ongoing expense and greater responsibility. Um, what is the attraction of a body corporate layered scheme then?

A Guarantee of Quality

In a nutshell the attraction is a better quality of neighbourhood.

That’s sounds very bald when you state it like that, but that’s the reality.

On the whole most body corporates, layered schemes or not, are better maintained than their neighbours and there’s a reason for that. Body corporates collect and spend funds each year explicitly for maintenance.

The “power of the many” really kicks in when it comes to issues of maintenance. If the average homeowner spends $1,000 a year on maintenance, a body corporate may spend $10,000, and if there are 20 lot owners, spend less per person.

Groups of lot owners, the Committee, meet to discuss and plan, well into the future, how they want their scheme to look and feel. Maintenance is planned and executed regimentally.

And then, because they have the funds, they hire professionals to do the work.

The end result is, usually, because there’s always exceptions, a beautifully maintained and presented property.

Body corporate layered schemes take this idea even further by maintaining not just a building or even large area of a scheme, but many different schemes combined, which, all joined together make up an entire neighbourhood.

A neighbourhood that looks, and actually is, well maintained and affluent.

Some examples of these neighbourhoods on the Gold Coast are Sanctuary Cove, Hope Island Resort, Emerald Lakes, and Royal Pines.

What else is controlled?

It is possible to actually see the difference in quality just driving into a body corporate layered scheme.

Layered schemes are cleaner and less cluttered.

The common property is meticulously maintained and will include a range of facilities like community centres, parks and pools.

Roadways are neatly trimmed and attractively gardened. Even the road signs and traffic islands will be decorative.

The streets are clear of vehicles and front yards are all neat and gardens well maintained.

That’s because it’s not just the maintenance that defines body corporate layered schemes.body corporate layered scheme

Every part of the scheme, including the roads you’re driving on, is controlled by the Principal Body Corporate.

They can define the way you park vehicles in the street and even in your own driveway.

They can, within the confines of the Building and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2009, control every part of how your home may look from the size of the house you must build to the materials and even colours you may choose.

There is an Architectural Review Committee within the Principal Body Corporate (PBC) tasked to govern just these matters.

Once built they can define how your property must present, including how your yard must look, whether vehicles or boats can be seen from the road, even where you put your bins.

There are a great number of rules which are enforced by the many Committee’s within the Resident Body Corporates and the PBC itself. The community itself is usually rigorously protected by security patrols.

The focus, and result, is a clean, safe community for lot owners.

What’s the downside of body corporate layered schemes?

All body corporates have the same sort of structure regardless of their size or layers, and they’re vulnerable to the same things:

In layered schemes the processes are more complicated; there are many different schemes that may share facilities all contained within one sprawling, governing body corporate.

There are more complex structures and rules and with the cost sharing the stakes are higher.

And of course cost is an issue.

Initially, if you’re building, you must have enough funds to conform to Architectural Review Committee specifications.

And levies are an ongoing cost. All properties will be levied, whether they’re blocks of land or houses.

Compared with similar body corporates the levies are higher because of contributions which must be made by the Residential Body Corporate to the PBC.

* * * * *

Living in a body corporate layered scheme is a regimented existence, which does come with some significant payoffs.

Whether or not that’s for you, well, only you can decide that.

And of course, if you do decide it’s the way to go, remember to get a pre-purchase strata report.

photo credit 1: Rich_Lem via photopin cc      photo credit 2: rainbreaw via photopin cc


A little knowledge can go a long way

I see so many stressful and frustrating issues in body corporate records that result from simple misunderstandings it hurts my head. If I could do one thing to help it would be to teach everyone the basic rules, so they can avoid all these dramas.

With that in mind I've put together a short eBook that sets out the basics everyone owning in a body corporate really should know. It won't make those big issues go away, but it will give you a firm grounding from which to communicate.

It's completely free, so please, download it now!

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  1. William H Swilley says:

    Ours is a private, gated community whose Body Corporate is dominated by the developer who owns approximately half of the lots and the covenants. Recent actions by the developer appear to violate their own covenants that they have written and changed over the past two years.

    Most recently and distressing is the approval of a number of constructions to include secondary dwellings in spite of the covenants specifying only one dwelling per lot being allowed. These plans also include triple garages which is specifically only allowed for lots in excess of 711 m2 and none of these lots meet this requirement. The decision to approve and promote these secondary dwellings as incentives to buy was made without consultation of agreement by the Owner Members of the Body Corporate who only became aware of the issue after construction commenced.

    We are extremely disappointed in the developer and have found ourselves seemingly powerless to stop this and are facing considerable pressure from a number of concerned owners. We are frustrated with the realization that the developer can proceed with these apparent violations without consequence and we, the Owner Members of the Body Corporate will be saddled with the situation long after the developer has moved on and signed over ownership of the covenants to us. This community in which many of us have invested over a million dollars attempting to create our vision of the dream, is seeing its property values adversely affected by these attached rental apartments as well as the developer’s encouragement and approval of ‘spec’ houses inconsistent with the level of quality of existing homes.

    Can you offer any suggestions or advice as to what avenues might be available to us?

    Thank you,

    Secretary-Treasurer, Body Corporate

    • Hi William
      Thanks for your comment and I commiserate on a difficult situation. It is very frustrating when the developer own’s enough lots they hold sway in the body corporate.

      You’ve touched on a subject I don’t know a lot about. Covenants and ARCs are complex and, since it’s only something I deal with peripherally, not something I’ve studied. Plus of course all schemes differ with their by-laws.

      I’m a little confused by what you’re meaning by changing covenants. I would expect any rules regarding the architectural code for the scheme to be included in the CMS, at schedule D. Making a change to those rules would require a resolution of the body corporate. I’m assuming that is what happened in your scheme. If the developer has the numbers to pass the motions I don’t know that there’s a lot can be done to reverse the decision. Unfortunately in body corporates, majority rules.

      Of course if the changes being made by the developer are not consistent with the architectural code set out in the scheme’s CMS, and it hasn’t been changed, then that would be a way to object.

      I suggest a conversation with the Office Commissioner Body Corporate, or possibly a Solicitor, to explore whether there might be something in the process used to make the changes, or even the changes themselves, that might allow you to object.

      Thank you for a great question and I’m sorry I couldn’t be more help.


  1. […] Units are often touted as the poor cousin to house ownership but I don’t think of them that way at all. Body corporates come in so many different sizes and shapes that if home ownership is your thing then you can still do that whilst still taking advantage of the higher levels of service and appearance. […]

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