Thinking Inside the Box

A Paddocks Sectional Title Lifestyle Blog

Do Individual Water Meters Save Money? Read This Case Study!

Sectional Title Property - Do Individual Water Meters Save Money?

Athol Behr, the body corporate manager of Kenwyn on Sea in Ballito, shares his experience in deciding whether it’s a good idea to install individual water meters at the scheme.

Individual Water Meters vs. One Common Meter

There must be many sectional title complexes with only one water meter where the water bill is divided amongst owners and paid according to the PQ of each unit. This raises two areas of concern:

1)     Is this fair on the smaller units, say a two bedroom unit which will probably be occupied by a couple as opposed to a three bedroom unit which will be occupied by a larger family; and

2)     The situation where a unit is only used by the owner during his annual vacation as opposed to a permanently occupied unit or one which is rented out continuously as holiday accommodation.

The only answer is to install an individual water meter for each unit.

Or is it?!

Let’s look at a case in question.

The block has 46 flats:

  • the majority are rented out as holiday apartments
  • one is permanently occupied by a single elderly owner
  • the balance are used by the owners or their families on occasion during the year

The average water bill for the whole complex during 2012/13 was R2500.00 per month with a sewage surcharge of (on average) R3000.00 per month. This results in an average bill of R120.00 per month per flat.

Being an older building (just over 30 years) the majority of the flats need two water meters because of the water reticulation design. The quotation for installing individual meters amounted to R88 000.00 which would result in an average Special Levy of R1900.00 per flat. It is anyone’s guess as to how much (or little) the “seldom occupied” flats would save but even at a 50% saving it would take them nearly three years to recover their investment.

Is installing individual water meters in the scenario mentioned worth it?

I think not.

What are your thoughts and experiences on this issue?

In a future post Athol Behr will look at ways to conserve water within sectional title schemes, be it with one or multiple meters.

Image source: http://www.wrc.org.za

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16 comments on “Do Individual Water Meters Save Money? Read This Case Study!

  1. Andre Le Roux
    May 28, 2015

    Hi,
    I am an owner in a complex, my water meter is broken and for the last 3 moths were charged estamated readings, trustees replaced my meter, now I must pay for it, who is responsible owner or body corparate

    andre

    • paddocks
      June 8, 2015

      Hi Andre, thanks for your question. We answer one question a day on our Facebook page for free. Please Like our Page on FB and re-post your question on our wall. One of our consultants should answer you within a few days. Thank you!

  2. Andre Le Roux
    May 28, 2015

    Hi,
    I am an owner in a complex, my water meter is broken and for the last 3 moths were charged estamated readings, trustees replaced my meter, now I must pay for it, who is responsible owner or body corparate

    andre

  3. Mpapadi
    May 27, 2015

    Hi all
    Beatrice Guerra I totally agree with you. A property has a life expectancy greater than 50 years (100 years even) so if it takes 3 years to recover the investnent, you will have 47 to gain the rewards. In my opinion, even those first years you are already benefiting as you are no longer subsidising the beighbours. Its really frustrating doing your best to save water while your neighbours abuse more water and the water bill gets higher and higher while you know you are using water sparingly.

  4. R Helberg
    May 3, 2014

    What about sectional title stack units where the two units have to share water piping and thus the meter reading is applicable to both units on a 50/50 basis. Is this legal.

  5. Beatrice Guerra
    January 21, 2014

    The only municipal rate one does not pay is the “water”. Why do we have separate electricity meter? Since 2004, all townhouse complexes have individual water meters? Is it not worth it? Europeans visiting this country are shocked by the attitude towards water. You do not seem to appreciate what they call the “BLUE” gold. And then, you have toilet leaks, sprinkler’s system, jacuzi, pool, overcrowded houses, keen gardeners, etc… I have installed my individual water meter in 2005. My average in year is +/- 11Kl/month and I pay more than R300 (including the sewerage) in my levy which should be around R150. In other words, I am subsidising my neighbours. This kind of internet “case study” is very sad. Please compare the monthly individual water bills in a townhouse complex that has separate meters. It can vary from R90 to over R500. Would you like to have a copy? 19 owners out of 24 in our complex are in favour of the installation but 2 trustees abusing the water are against and have done their outmost (6 meetings in a year) to chase the plumbers away by telling them what to do, etc….. But I will not give up. And when installed, I know as a fact that the consumption will drop. Then I will create a website on this matter showing the BEFORE and AFTER with proof. I know you are talking about apartments but still, if in our case, it takes 5 years to recover the investment, it is WORTH it. The water is going to go one way: Because of being scarce, its price is going to escalate like the electricity has. How old are you? Have you lived in Europe where the water is scarce, recycled (6 times in Brussels) and is so expensive? I do not think so otherwise you will spoke differently. On a different issue but of mega importance is that I can live without electricity but not without water. It is another aspect of saving water for next generations to come. But not everybody thinks of the future but let the keen gardeners do what they like but certainly pay for it. It might changed their views and remedy by installing water tanks……

  6. Jacobus
    November 11, 2013

    Mandy, kindly contact me Re: water meter installation. Jacobus – 0741145925

  7. Mandy Hoffman
    June 3, 2013

    HI Wilna yes you can call Prepaid Meters in JHB on 087 5500870 and tell them Mandy of PM2 in Cape Town referred you to them. 🙂 Thank you for your interest in the prepaid meters.

  8. Wilna
    June 1, 2013

    We are in in a complex in Pretoria. Can you supply such meters here?

    • paddocks
      June 3, 2013

      Hi Wilna. Thanks for your comment. Paddocks is a specialist sectional title and home owners association firm (www.paddocks.co.za). We do online training for persons involved in ST and HOAs as well as provide support services such as consulting (www.paddocks.co.za/support/private-consulting) and membership to an online club where you can get fast answers to your ST or HOA questions (www.paddocksclub.co.za). We also sell books on the subjects (eg. http://www.paddocks.co.za/sectional-title-survival-manual). So unfortunately we cannot help you with the supply of water meters in Pretoria, but if you are interested in any of our other services or products please don’t hesitate to contact us.

  9. Athol
    May 10, 2013

    Thanks Mandy.

  10. Mandy Hoffman
    May 10, 2013

    HI Athol. Firstly we sell SUB prepaid meters, so the supply still comes from city council and the free units are still allocated to the actual meters. The overcrowding: if you are one/2 people living in a flat and your neighbours total 5/8 or how many ever, you are paying for their usage in the end. The installations are about R550 per meter, depending on the remedial work to be done on the actual installation, but you get wall and ground meters. These meters work on a pricing scale, e.g. the more units you buy at once, the less you pay per meter. The monthly cost is around R15 per meter per month for Unipin (the service provider that generate the voucher numbers) and R30 for reporting and management to the Body Corporate or owners.
    The levies are loaded as arrears, e.g. 20% of the total purchase for water per month then goes towards the levies that are owed to the BC. For 1 building, we used to pay the council R1500-R3000 per month, now we pay them R6000 – R8000 per month, so it definitely works.

    • Adri Swart
      May 15, 2013

      Hi Mandy,

      Very interesting information.
      I am a bit puzzled about your last line – used to spend R1500 to R3000, now R6′ to R8k. Is this supposed to be the other way round? Unless you are meaning those figures are your recoveries and therefore you are able to pay council more?

      Regards

      Adri

      • Mandy Hoffman
        May 17, 2013

        HI Adri, yes. That is the amounts we are able to pay the council now.

  11. Athol
    May 10, 2013

    Mandy, your last sentence is quite correct with the emphasis on “many”, but that implies “not all”. The point I was trying to make is that sufficient and thorough investgation must be done before assuming that installing individual meters is the way to go.

    With regards to your example of “poorer blocks” being helped to collect levies, could you please explain how this works. I can understand recovering municipal accounts as each owner/tenant will be responsible for the payment of their water bill – no pay, no water.

    The fact that the “poorer blocks” have, in your words, 7/15 people living in one flat is not going to be solved by installing a water meter. That is another subject completely.

    Lastly, maybe you could give us some case study figures on a “before and after” basis where you have done an installation. The cost of installation and monthly (if any) fees will also help.

  12. Mandy Hoffman
    May 9, 2013

    We are the official resellers of Prepaid water meters in Cape Town and we definitely recommend the sub water meters. It is helping many poorer blocks recover levies and arrears on the municipal accounts. Overcrowding is a major problem and its not fair for one person in a unit to pay the next unit’s water with 7/15 people living in it. Water meters are the answer to many problems.

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