You’ve been saving up, and you’ve decided renovating or improving your apartment sounds like a good idea. You know what you want to do, how much it will cost you, and approximately how long it will take before you will be living in recently renovated luxury. But before you start, did you check with your body corporate about making improvements to your lot?
When making alterations to an individual lot, the Body Corporate and Community Management Act does not restrict the changes or improvements which an owner can make. Generally, lot owners can make improvements to elements of the lot which are the responsibility of the owner (see our articles on common property and what is the responsibility of the owner for more information). If you are considering making improvements, you should consider whether your changes will affect common property.
Most Queensland body corporates have similar by-laws relating to ‘alterations to a lot’, which require an owner to submit a written request to the body corporate from approval. By-laws generally do not state what type of alterations requires approval, so if you are unsure, contact your building or community manager for assistance. Generally, by-laws allow committees to impose reasonable conditions on approval.
SSKB would encourage owners considering making improvements to contact their building 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.
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. Improvements such as putting in a hard floor (timber or tiling) is often subject to by-laws – hard floors are restricted in some properties to prevent disputes surrounding the noise created. Always check the by-laws in your strata scheme for any mention of needing to seek permission for improvements or renovations.
You should also consider notifying the committee and your fellow residents anyway, 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.