The ‘Meeting’ , Final Body corporate.

photo Gerard


The good readers might remember the issue of the painting of our housing compound. There are eight housing units which are called somewhat grandiosely ‘villas’. I have been pulled up a couple of times when referring to our homes as units. They don’t take kindly to calling a spade a spade. A villa in Holland is usually an imposing residence of grand proportions, perhaps with a sign at the gate for tradesmen to go to the back entrance. Delivery boys of groceries and the weekly gardener have to overcome their fear of a huge growling dog at the back entrance. The owners of villas are hardly ever seen. They glide about in sleek black cars and are rumoured to own bordellos in Porto Rico and even Spain.

I have been somewhat neglectful in attending Body Corporate meetings, and like Milo, have low boredom tolerance, having reached a stage where I too could easily take up barking at the ducks hidden between the reeds. The Body Corporate in Australia is a  defined entity that regulates shared ownership of the common areas around the housing units that people share. About six months ago I noticed some activity around the place and was told that the whole estate was going to get painted. I was surprised that nothing appeared about this from the minutes of the last meeting. The meeting date had been changed. We could not attend because we were in Bali.

I queried why there was no mentioning of all this beforehand and was somewhat alarmed about a single painting contractor from Melbourne being awarded the job. The reason given was that he would carry the shortfall in our saving/sinking fund for over five years. I then wondered why not more quotes had been obtained and why a contract was given to a painting contractor a thousand kilometres away. I also queried that it might be prudent to wait till enough was in the kitty to pay for the paint job. The odd thing was that the residents rallied behind the Melbourne quote, mainly because of the debt being paid into the future. Now going into debt has never been my forte. Indeed, the opposite. I don’t ever buy anything without paying upfront. The exception being the occasional mortgage taken out to buy our home. Our credit cards never earned the banks any money. Never!

I tried to get answers but was stone-walled. After not getting responses from either the Body Corporate or other owners I went and asked for some guidance on rules from the overseeing governmental body ;the NSW Fair Trading Commission. By then the hostility was getting thicker. People ducked behind closed doors, the venetians were stirring and whispers were being overheard behind the Magnolias, roads in avoidance were skilfully being crossed. One owner started skipping. A strange and hostile neighbourhood was showing its slip.

The law was on my side and I had it in black and white. H and I turned up at the Extraordinary Meeting of the body corporate. I came prepared. I took my portable laptop. At the meeting I unfolded in a significant manner my light blue laptop.  I took the chair and as I had practiced a few phrases, such as “responsible governance, due diligence, contravention of corporate laws, accurate recording of meetings” together with a calm demeanour (but not without a few authoritative coughs in between), let fly.

There was a silence. You could cut the air. The other owners and the hostile manager all looked around. There was nowhere to hide. They all turned into mice.  See how they run, … see how they run!   They all ran to…..

A feeble attempt was made to still go with the Melbourne mob. Previously I had posted an e-mail with details of an $80.000,- underpayment made to its painters by the Melbourne mob, that was dealt with through an industrial Court, hardly a recommendation.

This is were I held my trump card. I had in black and white that no maintenance could be done without having the money up front. The meeting decided to go with the cheaper quote that I had obtained. An extra levy of $1000.- per owner had to be raised. They all filed out in silence. The cheaper quote was for a local painter for $ 29.990.- compared with the $43.995.- from Melbourne. Not a single ‘thank you’. I smell a bit of a ‘hand-0ut’ to the Body Corporate  from the Melbourne mob.  Milo smelled something too and it wasn’t a pig’s ear.


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20 Responses to “The ‘Meeting’ , Final Body corporate.”

  1. elizabeth2560 Says:

    That certainly is a lot cheaper. Good on you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. auntyuta Says:

    Congratulations! Excellent work on your part. 🙂 It shouldn’t be too long before some owners are going to tell you how grateful they are for all the savings that occurred due to your diligence.

    Our previous home on a single block was called a house or a cottage. Now we also live in a ‘villa’, same as you.

    Your description of a villa is just wonderful, it reminds me of what here in Australia and maybe in England too, would be called a ‘mansion’.

    A cottage in Australia would in Germany probably be called ‘ein Häuschen’ or a summer house or maybe a ‘Laube’ or garden house, whereas a ‘villa’ in Germany is a more solidly built house but not necessarily a mansion. Some people n Germany call a very expensive big house ‘ein Schloss’ (castle!).

    I think it is not unheard of that ‘villas’ in Australia are called ‘units’.
    Our complex, where we live now, consists of ten units, that is there are ten free standing houses called ‘villas’.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you Uta. I think you are right and owners will come to see that a more economical way is preferred than to going into debt that would have cost a lot more.
      I do hope they will become friendlier disposed to us.
      It is nicer to get on with people that not to.
      The name of calling something a villa when it is a modest and normal dwelling is typical of many other name -calling in Australia.
      I remember ‘Palm Beach’; it had no palms. A dance ‘academy’ was something held above a garage.
      The same with diplomas and qualifications from totally unheard of ‘colleges’. They get handed out like confetti at a wedding.
      I don’t really understand that.


  3. Dorothy brett Says:

    Well done Gerard and Helvi, had your neighbours/fellow Bidy Vorp members thought about the cost of this Melbourne company living in or near Bowral whilst doing the job. We have a similar issue excel that we were told that these tradesmen wanted to be “put up” in a flashy hotel in Ettalong whilst doing the job eg the Mantra Resort. I don’t think so, we shall find tradespeople locally.
    Don’t you hate it when people take you for an idiot.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you Dot. Yes, vigilance is needed. Everything and everybody seems on the take. Our body corporate thought nothing of some shyster deal that would just put the cost on the next lot of owners. Ethics is a foreign country here.
      What was my father thinking? Perhaps Holland is the same now too.


  4. Yvonne Says:

    Gosh, good for you for standing by your rights and doing it so well. And, isn’t it good to use local tradesmen whenever possible!


  5. nonsmokingladybug Says:

    It’s terrible to read how much money can (and is) wasted because people don’t do their research -or don’t ask the right questions-. Good for you…well done~!


  6. Curt Mekemson Says:

    Ah, Gerard, I am a veteran of the condo wars, having lived in one for 15 years, and had a few similar battles over that time period. My sympathy is with you. 🙂 –Curt


  7. stuartbramhall Says:

    Sounds like a coup to me.


  8. Says:

    Well done Gerard! We”l thank you from a across the world, for employing someone who pays their workers, not the mob, and who prevents suckers form getting into debt.


  9. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Well done Gerard. It’s good to be right.


  10. rod Says:

    You have done well in the teeth of opposition. The Body Corporate doesn’t seem to be in good health.


  11. algernon1 Says:

    Well done Gerard, sounds like you should be sacking your strata manager. Or do they have a picture of someone in a compromising position.


  12. Rosie Says:

    How dumb are the other unit owners to blindly follow anything they are told – sounds like Australia in general these days. Well done you and Helvi – keep an eye on everything. Why was the money not in the Sinking Fund? After all, its very existence is for such things and there are eight owners paying into it annually. A Sinking Fund should be projecting into the future for such things as painting.


  13. gerard oosterman Says:

    I think a single person thought the others would roll over but we did not and now things will be done within our budget even though an extra levy will be raised. They could have waited another year and there would have been enough money.
    Anyway, we hope some will see that saving money is better that thoughtlessly squandering it.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Big M Says:

    Great work Gerard. The same battle is being fought in body corporates and bowling clubs all over Australia. There’s always someone sfuffing up the finances of others through stupidity, or perfidy. The sums involved can be quite vast.

    I’ve always thought the term villa was gilding the lilly, I mean, a villa in Roman times was on about five acres, had herb and vegetable gardens, expensive mosaics, etc. Not just a flat.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you, Big M.
      Nice to see you here. Would like to meet up with you and family some time in the future. Lost the cordiality of this hub of ‘villas’.
      Amazing really. Perhaps I’ll join The African Violet Society, meet some normal people.

      Had a couple of difficult years.


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