So, you’re planning to renovate and transform your humble abode? Renovating your apartment in Strata requires a clear plan. Before you start, have you checked what approvals you need to carry out renovations to your Lot?
We understand Owners in Community titles schemes are not immune to the lure of improving the value of their property investment. To help make the process easier, we have provided you with 5 tips that you need to know before renovating your Strata apartment.
1. Obtaining Owners Corporation approval
Generally, Lot Owners can make improvements to elements of the Lot which are the responsibility of the Owner. There is no set legislation in New South Wales which requires Lot Owners to seek permission to make improvements to their lots – that is, elements of the Lot which are the responsibility of the Owner, and not common property. SSKB would encourage Owners considering making improvements to their Strata Home to contact their building or Owners Corporation Manager if they are unsure about the need to apply for approval. If work does not require approval, such as for simple things like internal painting, the Owners Corporation and Building Manager may still need to be notified in order to arrange access for tradespeople.
The three types of renovations include:
i. Cosmetic work
Cosmetic work doesn’t need approval. This is because cosmetic work can’t alter the outside of a property or affect things like structure and waterproofing.
Cosmetic work includes:
- install or replace hooks, nails or screws (for hanging paintings or other items on walls)
- install or replace handrails
- paint the interior
- install or replace blinds and curtains
- fill minor holes and cracks in internal walls
- lay carpet
- install or replace built-in wardrobes.
ii. Minor renovations
Minor renovations need approval, often this is from the Committee. Many schemes give the approval power to the Committee. Otherwise, approval will require a vote at a General Meeting.
You can write to your Owners Corporation Manager or Secretary and ask them to vote on your changes. You’ll need more than 50% of the votes cast in favour of the work at the meeting.
If the Committee does not have the power to approve minor renovations, you’ll need to ask for approval at an Annual General Meeting (AGM) or an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM).
iii. Major renovations
Major renovations need a special resolution vote at an annual general meeting (AGM) or other general meeting. This means no more than 25% of the votes cast are against it, based on unit entitlement.
2. Prepare a Scope of Works
Speak with your Contractors and prepare a summary of the works which are going to be undertaken. Provide the Scope of Works together with your request for Owners Corporation approval. This will save you time when seeking Owners Corporation approval.
3. Check your By-Laws
Most New South Wales Owners Corporation buildings have similar by-laws relating to ‘alterations to a Lot’. These require an Owner to submit a written request to the Owners Corporation for approval before they begin works.
SSKB would recommend you also check the specific By-Laws in your building before you undertake any improvements or renovations. It could save you time in the long run, by ensuring you do not begin improvements without the necessary permission of the Owners Corporation. Most by-laws will require approval to be sought for any structural alterations, the installation of hard flooring and any change to the appearance of your property which can be seen from outside. Some by-laws also outline the hours that tradespeople can be on-site and lift access requirements. Generally, by-laws allow Committees to impose reasonable conditions on approval.
If you are considering making improvements, you should consider whether your changes will affect common property. This will require approval and may even be required to go to a general meeting. Before you start, check with your building or Owners Corporation Manager to ensure that you have the right approvals in place.
4. Engage Appropriate Contractors
It is important that you engage the appropriate licensed Contractors to ensure that the works comply with current building standards. It’s likely the Strata renovation will not be approved in circumstances where you are recommending that the works are carried out by a lay person or the classic ‘handy man’.
You may also need input from other consultants along the way (e.g. structural engineer, plumber or electrician). Plan out a scope of what you are wanting to do then seek expert input to find out if it is feasible and realistic for your budget.
It is always good practice to keep the Committee or on-site manager informed throughout your project.
Also, its crucial to explain to the Contractors the requirements/conditions of the By-Laws in completing renovations at the scheme.
SSKB encourages Owners considering making improvements to contact their building or Owners Corporation Manager before commencing. You should also consider notifying the Committee and your fellow residents, especially to let them know of potential noise during improvements, and the ongoing presence (including parking or access required) of tradespeople on the property. Communicating with other Owners ensures everyone is kept up to date and informed of what is going on, which ultimately helps to promote a strong and happy sense of community and cooperation in your Owners Corporation.