So, you’re planning to renovate and transform your humble abode? Renovating your Strata apartment 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 Body Corporate approval
SSKB encourages Owners considering making improvements to contact their Building Manager or Community 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 Body Corporate and Building Manager may still need to be notified in order to arrange access for tradespeople.
It can be hard to tell whether work is an improvement or maintenance.
An improvement can include:
- Putting up a new building
- A structural change
- A non-structural change, like installing air conditioning.
See the definition of improvement in schedule 6 of the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (the BCCM Act).
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 Body Corporate approval.
This will save you time when seeking Body Corporate approval.
3. Check your By-Laws
Most Queensland Bodies Corporate have similar by-laws relating to ‘alterations to a lot’. These require an owner to submit a written request to the Body Corporate for approval before they begin works. Each scheme has its own individual by-laws which will outline when you will require approval from your body corporate.
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 body corporate. 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 Manager or Community 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 is likely that the renovations 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.
It is also 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 Community 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 fellow lot 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 strata scheme.