Nothing makes a house (or apartment) a home more than putting your own personal touch on it. Owning a property and making it a reflection of your personality is the dream for many Australians.
However, for those owning property in a strata scheme, renovating your dream apartment can quickly turn into a costly nightmare, if you aren’t well informed from the outset. We’ve compiled a few tips to ensure your renovation goes smoothly and relations with fellow owners remain friendly.
You may think that doing renovations inside your lot won’t impact on other owners, and as such, you shouldn’t have to seek permission. However, even minor work may require tradespeople to park on site, use lifts and other common property, and of course, there will be the inevitable noise which may affect other owners. Notifying your committee or building manager of any planned work will avoid any unnecessary problems.
Also, advising your committee or building manager means they can in turn notify the insurance company. This reduces the potential of any future problems.
Know what is yours: Doors, Floors, Windows and Walls
Renovating a free-standing dwelling is simple – everything belongs to you. Things aren’t so clear cut in a strata scheme; you may not be able to change all the things you think you own.
As you can be held liable for the cost of returning the building to its original condition if you change something you shouldn’t have, knowing what you can and can’t do before you start is the smartest and cheapest way to improve your dream apartment.
Generally speaking, a lot owner is entitled to change anything from the interior paint and inwards. The walls, the outside of the front door, the windows and the balcony are all considered common property.
Want to replace all the doors of your apartment? The internal doors are yours to do what you like with – but not the front door. It generally belongs to the building as it must comply with fire safety standards, and most schemes want the exterior of the building to be consistent. Often this is the same for doors and windows leading to a balcony, as the structural integrity of the building must be preserved.
Timber flooring is a strata minefield and should definitely not be installed without gaining permission from your body corporate first. Noise from timber floating floors is a common issue for apartment residents, with owners often being misled by those who install the floor. Those who lay it without consulting their bylaws or body corporate may end up having to re-lay their carpet anyway.
Owners wanting to change their window coverings should check with their committee or building manager before proceeding. Some schemes have window covering guidelines to ensure a consistency in the appearance of the building from the outside.
Change the colour, apply wallpaper, hang pictures and shelves, but make sure you don’t interfere with the integrity of the wall. If you are considering any structural change or holes that may interfere with noise insulation, check with your committee, building manager or body corporate manager.
Also, be mindful of speakers recessed into your wall – they may be louder in your neighbour’s apartment than your own.
If you’re keen to make your apartment reflect your personality without major renovations, there are many things you can do without body corporate permission:
Freshen up the feel of the apartment with a new interior paint job or replacement wallpaper
– Install new light fixtures
– Mirror one wall to give the illusion of space
– Replace outdated carpet with a modern style carpet
– Fit custom taps or showerheads
– Introduce colour through sculptures, lamps and paintings