Capital Hill Apartments street address:
17-23 State Circle,
Forrest, ACT 2603


Forrest Weather

August 9, 2017

Behind us on Somers Crescent is a little weather station.  It’s fascinating.

Hot Water Service

July 21, 2017

A number of owners continue to experience troubles with fluctuating water temperatures and/or minor leaks in their apartments.  It is most likely that the mixing valve, now almost nine years old, is the problem.  (You’ll find it through the manhole inside your front door.  Picture below.)

The developer installed a particular Thermostatic Mixing Valve, which was a

poor choice.   Each valve should be serviced annually and the cartridge

replaced once every five years as per manufacturer’s instructions.  A yearly service per valve is about $250 and a five year service about $520.

The Executive Committee has investigated the matter and strongly recommends owners replace their valves with Tempering Valves that do not require yearly service.  They are rated up to 55 degrees.  Supplied and installed, the cost would be $478, and that includes flushing the hot and cold pipes in each apartment.

Either way, action should be taken now.  The Committee’s preferred plumber is Robert Edwards of Six Star Plumbing.  Phone 6161-9417.

Lerp Insect Infestation.

May 7, 2017


Damage to the jasmine on the balconies has been noticed.  The cause is a lerp insect which can be treated with Yates Pest Oil, obtainable from Bunnings. You may need a spray bottle as well.

Smoke Alarms

February 14, 2017

The Clipsal ionisation smoke alarms installed in each apartment are ending their 10-year lives and need replacement.  The ACT Government recommends photoelectric types instead.  Our preferred electrical contractor, Wayne Taylor (phone 0418 633 756), can supply and install a PSA Model LIF5800RL for between $100 and $180 depending on economies of scale. The Clipsal Fire Tek 755PFM is a suitable alternative

How to Protect your Drains – and Your Wallet

February 3, 2017

Recently, Icon Water dropped into our letter boxes a handy little magnetised card listing do’s and don’ts for putting stuff down our drains. If you missed it or want to print out a poster sized copy, visit

Toilet Suites

January 31, 2017

There are some 111 toilet suites throughout the complex, mostly Fowler’s Newport Wall Faced Cube models.  In the last few years, several of these have failed, resulting in flood damage and requiring expensive repairs.  The root cause is poor workmanship in installation.  In short, if the plumbing isn’t properly secured to the wall, repeated use will vibrate internal fittings loose resulting in catastrophe.  In all the failures so far, this has been the cause.  For example, four bolts are required to do the job properly; a shortcut by an unscrupulous installer may see only two being used. (There can be other contributing factors, but this is the most common.)

There is no cheap way to check that your installation is secure; it’s a job for a plumber.  Short of doing that, be alert to the first sign of a leak that could presage a flood and call a plumber immediately.  The Owners Corporation is not liable for damage or repair and our strata insurance does not cover bad installation.  These are individual apartment owners’ responsibilities.  At best, household insurance may cover resultant damage from a flood, e.g. sodden carpets.

Strata Manager

December 6, 2016

Our Managing Agent, City Strata,  has assigned a new Strata Manager for Capital Hill Apartments, Tony Stevens,    (02) 6156-3305.   The Executive Committee has welcomed Tony to the team.

Air Conditioning Maintenance

October 27, 2016


We frequently remind owners to have their air-conditioning unit in the basement maintained. A common problem is that the machine’s normal vibration shakes loose many of the screws and fittings but the maintenance schedule will see that everything is made tight.

The photo is of a terminal block and shows melting and fusion of electrical cable simply because a screw had worked loose. The part alone cost the owner $150.

Be warned.

National Broadband Network

This is the present situation as we understand it..

Lost and Found

December 19 2016



This Baccarat knife, 125 ml wine glass and earphones were found after the Christmas Party in December.  Claimants can queue at David Campbell’s door, 205/19; 0414 942 705

Hot Water Disruption

October 19, 2016

Seals are failing in our hot water meters. These are causing little floods and need to be replaced. The plan is to do this day-by-day, building-by-building, commencing on Tuesday 25th October with Building 17. The hot water service is likely to be disrupted intermittently between 10 a.m. and 3.00 p.m.

The schedule is:

Building 17 –Tuesday, 25th

Building 19 – Wednesday, 26th

Building 21 – Thursday, 27th

Building 23 – Friday, 28th


Remedial Works Program

May 31, 2016

Progress remains ahead of schedule and within budget. Instead of Practical Completion on 5th September, the contractor is hopeful of finishing before the end of June.
Work is almost completed on Building 23 although some touching up of render and paint needs to be done, together with some on Building 21. We will soon be rid of scaffolding altogether. Exterior painting throughout the complex is progressing well. Arrangements are being made to inspect balconies, terraces and courtyards in 21 and 23 on 18th June and to touch up any paint spatter, etc.
The large planter boxes have been installed and planting of weeping Japanese maples and a ground cover jasmine will commence soon. Then there is concrete work in the basement to be carried out, particularly attending to the water ingress around the Big Beam between Buildings 19 and 21.

Initial Inspection – Remediation

May 31, 2016

Please be advised that the Owners Corporation and Remedial Building Services (RBS) would like to inspect the completed remediation works in blocks 21 and 23. The aim is to ensure that the works have been completed satisfactorily or, if not, for RBS to rectify

It is proposed that the visits occur on Saturday morning 18th June 2016 with building 21 from 8 a.m. to 12 noon. If you are unable to attend it would be appreciated if you could provide us with your contact details and an email outlining any concerns. (Chairman:, 0414 942 705)

Insurance Update


As you would know, the Committee has been pursuing Becton’s Building Warranty Insurer, CGU, these past couple of years to rectify various construction faults in our common property and in some individual apartments.

A scope of work has finally been agreed and has been promulgated in an earlier Insurance Claim Developments entry below. For your convenience, CGU’s Determination of 15th January 2015 can be found again here. Current planning is for work to commence on 5th October, 2015 and to take a full year, completing on 9th September, 2016. The contractor, Remedial Building Services, will work building-by-building (commencing with # 17) in order to minimise disruption and inconvenience to residents. It is big and complex task that is contracted to cost $1.8 million.

The major works have to do with common property The three most prominent are:

Soffits (the undersides of the eaves). These are to be replaced in their entirety, on all four sides of all four buildings.
Balcony planter boxes. These need to be emptied, cleaned, re-sealed, refilled and replanted with Jasmine. The balconies affected are on level 2 of # 17, and levels 1 and 2 of # 21 and #23.
External walls. The flexible sealant between the concrete panels is to be replaced throughout. Walls will be repainted.
These works will require scaffolding to be erected, including on the rear terraces of the level 2 apartments.

A vital element in the success of this operation must be the full cooperation of owners, estate agents and tenants alike in providing access. If this cannot be assured, then there will be financial penalty and the individual owners will be liable. The need to actually enter apartments will be kept to an absolute minimum. For example, the terrace planter boxes will be tackled from external scaffolding and there will be no need to traipse wheelbarrows across your carpets.

Other common property works include repairs to the walkways and parapets between the buildings; to concrete structures in the basement where there has been leaking water; and to the cats’ eye lighting on the paths. In addition, nine large Crimson Sentries, Chanticleer Pears and Gleditsia in the big planter boxes will have to be replaced with trees with lesser root systems, and the boxes rebuilt.

Four apartments, in # 19 and # 21, have significant work to be carried out. These are given priority and it is planned they be completed before Christmas. Five other apartments have work to do but are of lesser magnitude and complexity. They will probably be carried out during the building-by building process. Again, access is critical.

As much notice as possible will be given. But despite every best effort, inconvenience will be inevitable and unavoidable (we cannot predict bad weather, for instance, which may incur delays). Inconvenience could take the form of having to use another walkway for a bit or removing furniture from your terrace or losing access to some visitor parking in the basement.

Decision Index


An index of decisions taken at Annual General Meetings, Extraordinary General Meetings and the meetings of the Executive Committee are to be found here

Insurance Update

27 May 2015

This week, we received from CGU a quote from Remedial Building Services for a shade under $1.8 million for the work to be carried out, essentially that program listed below in the CGU letter of 16 May 2014. Disappointingly, many questions arise from the documentation given and these have to be resolved before we can take the next step of drawing up a contract.

A building project of this magnitude and complexity warrants our engaging a Project Manager. Typically, such a cost is in the 10-15% range of the project sum and this is far beyond the provision of our current Administrative Fund budget. An Extraordinary General Meeting would be needed to authorise a levy to pay for this. Work is progressing towards this end.

Those owners who are to receive compensation from CGU for such items as lighting and refrigeration ventilation can expect to have the money credited to their bank accounts this week.

Unacceptable Behaviour

27 May 2015

The ACAT Directions hearing on the unpleasant matters arising from incidents related to Apartment 30/23 took place on 8th May. The Owners Corporation was represented by our Treasurer. The General President of the Tribunal presided. The respondent did not appear; the President tried unsuccessfully to phone him in NZ. The matter stands adjourned.

There are advantages to withdrawing the current application and lodging a new one under the Unit Titles (Management) Act rather than persisting with our use of the current ACAT form. Accordingly, we will:

a) withdraw our current application and lodge a new application;

b) join the occupant of unit 30/23 to the respondent, in the application; and

c) seek broader remedies to address any repeat of the offensive behaviour.

There will be a new filing fee of $270 under the Unit Titles (Management) Act but it may be possible, subject to the Registrar’s discretion, to offset the filing fee of $132 for the original application. It is likely that a hearing date will be set for a date later in June.

Insurance Update


CGU has finally commenced the process of calling tenders for the remedial works, the scope of which has now, after almost two years, been agreed and approved. The three invited tenderers visited us on 27th March to better assess the task and to better cost their responses. Brian Dillon, from Igentia P/L and Mal Wilson, from Advanced Structural Designs, also attended. Completing the bids will take up to a month and CGU’s evaluation of the responses for compliance and value for money and selection of the preferred tenderer will take more time. A contract then has to be agreed between the Owners Corporation and the successful tenderer. This has been – and continues to be – a long, painful and expensive business but real progress is now being made.

It is some comfort to be reassured by one expert after another that the Apartments are well designed, well-built and well maintained. Our problems may be annoying but they are essentially superficial and readily remedied. And we learn that there are many far more fraught insurance claims than ours.

The shock that comes with this good news is advice that work on site may not commence until Spring or even early Summer. Work will probably be on the basis of one building at a time: three months on each, for a total time on site of a year. In other words, work may not be finished until Christmas 2016. Part of the delay is attributed to the shortage of building trades in Canberra at the moment and Winter’s cold makes working with some materials, such as render, difficult.

Reimbursement for those owners who have fixed their defects themselves is expected shortly.

Unacceptable Behaviour

Many owners (and certainly most residents) would be only too aware of several most unpleasant incidents over the past six months that have disturbed the peace and quiet of our Apartments.

The Executive Committee met on 17th March last night to consider proposed action with respect to Apartments 14/19 and 30/23 where the disturbances have centred and:

Noted the widespread disgust and anger reported by residents at the hooliganism on display over the past six months and particularly the past two weeks. Matters had degenerated to the stage where Police had to be called. Residents are demanding an immediate, firm and effective response from Management (i.e., the Committee and the MA) to take appropriate action against those responsible and to prevent further occurrence. The Committee determined that such action be taken and that it be seen to have been taken.
Noted a Rule Infringement Notice had been sent to the owner(s) of 14/19, Myco Systems, under Section 109 of the Unit Titles (Management) Act 2011.
Agreed another Rule Infringement Notice be sent to Mr Hammond, the owner of 30/23.
Agreed ACAT proceedings should be commenced against Mr Hammond in relation to his failure to comply with the Rule Infringement Notice of 21 October 2014.
Decided a Rule Infringement Notice should also be sent to the occupant of 30/23.
Agreed ACAT proceedings should be commenced against Mr Hammond for the recovery of costs incurred from the incidents last October.
Agreed a letterbox drop be made to all residents advising them of action they might take should there be further disturbances.
Approved a Lift Notice be posted in all lifts and basement doors.
Agreed a News Item be posted in our web site; this is it.
Owners should know that the Executive Committee has zero tolerance for the disgraceful behaviour that has upset so many residents. The law is painfully slow in such matters but the necessary legal wheels have been put in motion under Section 109 of the Act.

The Committee can’t have eyes and ears everywhere and all the time. Owners and residents have to share in this action. It is potentially dangerous to confront rampaging teenagers: don’t do it. Instead call the Police on 131 444 and don’t hesitate to do so; that’s what they’re there for. Follow this up with a report to the Managing Agent.

Insurance Claim Developments

Owners will be pleased and relieved to learn that, after almost two years since Becton’s demise, CGU Insurance has finally moved to call tenders from their panel of remedial builders to quote for the various repairs that have been approved for Capital Hill Apartments. The tenderers will be on site on Friday 27th March in order to cost their responses. They will need to be given access to a number of apartments (including 14/19, 15/19, 16/19, 108/19, 109/19 and 23/21) and we are asking that you be available from 0800 to 1030. John Whiting, our Managing Agent will be in touch with the respective owners/agents/tenants to confirm the arrangements.



Insurance Claim Developments

CGU’s Determination of 15 January 2015 can be found here. It differs from the initial one of 16 May 2014 in that Apartments 14/19, 16/19 and 23/21 have now been accepted, having originally been denied.

All owners and residents, one way or another, will be affected by the repairs. The Determination covers work to be carried out in areas of common property (such as the basement, garden beds, exterior walls, courtyards and soffits) and in individual apartments (such as 15/19 and seven others).

When the work will begin, let alone finish, is not yet known. CGU is currently calling tenders from three contractors. The tenderers will need to inspect the site and, inevitably, this will mean inconvenience to individual residents. The responses will have to be evaluated and a contract awarded and I expect all this will take weeks. Do keep your tenants and agents in the picture as arrangements will have to be made about inspections.

Planter Boxes. See Item 1 of the Determination. Owners of Apartments 201/17, 202/17, 203/17, 112/21, 113/21, 114/21, 206/21, 207/21, 208/21, 118/23, 119/23, 209/23 and 210/23 should note the implications for their balconies.

Refrigeration Ventilation, Down lights. Owners of Apartments 105/17, 111/19, 205/19, 115/21 and 108/19 should soon expect reimbursement of their expenses (less GST). It’s noted that the figures in the Determination are wrong and these are being followed up.

Note that CGU has been inconsistent in nomenclature. For instance, Building 17 is sometimes called Block A and Apartment 23/21 is referred to as Unit 17. Just bear with it.

Please note particularly that the Executive Committee will be making no further representations with CGU on your behalf. If you have any problem with the Determination as it affects you personally, you must take it up with CGU direct.

To be found in this section is correspondence between the parties in chronological order:

CGU’s response dated 16 May 2014 to our claims

Our reply to CGU that was sent on 6 June 2014

Letter to 15 owners affected 3 June 2014

CGU’s response dated 2 July 2014.

GCU’s letter of 8 December 2014

Much of the earlier correspondence dealt with common property but there were specific references to individual apartments. Generally, the responses here were satisfactory (e.g. attention to damaged carpets where the original claims were accepted) but there were some unsatisfactory elements as well, for instance refusing temporary accommodation and storage for those whose apartments would be the subject of major and disruptive works. The very special concern that arose from this response from CGU was their declining to include in the overall scope of work a separate sub-contract for the three apartments which have considerable problems but which had been denied by CGU.

We prepared a brief for a barrister specialising in insurance law of this type. The brief can be found below as well as an index of the 435 pages supporting the brief, an indication of the complexity of the issues attending this case.

Most recently, CGU has now accepted our argument that timeliness of lodging claims is not a valid consideration in denying them. So now the issue revolves around proving that damage to three apartments in particular actually occurred before the expiry of the insurance cover in July 2013. Once this documentary evidence is assembled and accepted by CGU, there should be no bar to the calling of tenders to undertake the necessary repairs to both common property and individual apartments, nor to making the cash reimbursements to those entitled individual owners.

Brief to Barrister

Index of Supporting Brief

Responses from Barristers dated 21st and 25th August 2014 can be found below. They speak for themselves but we sought clarification of certain issues, particularly how most expeditiously we could make further representation to CGU regarding claims that were been denied.

Memorandum dated 21st August

Supplementary Memorandum dated 25th August

Our letter to CGU dated 12 November 2014. This letter is our response to CGU’s letter of 2 July 2014 and presents our legal case that CGU’s denial of certain claims on the basis of late lodgement be reversed.

There are further details to be found in the Minutes of the Executive Committee, the most recent being those of the 3rd November 2014 meeting.