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Do I need permission to renovate my apartment? Here’s what you need to know
Itching to get your apartment’s reno underway? This could be the perfect time to get the ball rolling with approvals while you have the extra hours at home. Getting the Owners’ Corporation go ahead can take anywhere up to 6 months, so the sooner you get started the sooner you will be approved.
The best place to begin is to get a clear understanding of potential limitations and what building permission you’ll need. Depending on your location, the complex you live in and the neighbours you share the block with, there’s a lot to consider and it pays to handle it with care to ensure you meet all your legal obligations.
What limitations should I look out for?
While lot owners are free to renovate and improve their property within areas that fall under their responsibility (ie. not common property), a lot of strata schemes have ‘by-laws’ for renovations that require approval by the owners’ corporation. These have been put in place for the privacy, safety and comfort of all residents. The by-laws vary and can cover things that apply to exterior uniformity such as window coverings, balconies and placement of air-conditioning units. If you live on the higher floors, you may find that you are restricted with flooring for acoustic reasons and on the lower floors, you may be unable to remove load bearing walls without proper consideration and engineer reports.
To get a clear picture on what’s allowed with approval where you live, have a chat with the owners’ corporation or give the block’s strata management company a call to get a copy of your building’s by-laws. A little research now could save you time and money in the future.
What approvals do I need?
Now you have a good idea of what you can and can’t do, you can start on your plans and applying for renovation permission with the owner’s corporation.
Figuring out what approvals you need to apply for is a question of how your reno will affect or impact ‘common property’.
The structure of an apartment block belongs to the owner’s corporation and is referred to as ‘common property’; areas such as the foyer, lift, corridors, stairwells as well as adjoining walls.
The apartment itself is referred to as ‘a lot’ and the lot is within a strata scheme.
With this is in mind, let’s look at the two different types of approvals you will encounter under the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015.
Minor renovations by owners (Section 110)
Owners of a lot within a strata scheme can carry out minor renovations to common property that is connected to their lot with the approval of the owner’s corporation. Minor renovations are things like putting in a new kitchen, changing or replacing electricals or power, changing recessed light fittings, and installing or replacing floors.
To obtain approval from the body corporation, you’ll need to give written notice of your proposed works. As this is all about an educating the owners’ corporation, give them as much detail as you can – you want them to grant approval as quickly as possible.
In your proposal, be sure to include a detailed scope of work, any drawings and the details on the duration and times of work, who will be doing the work, their qualifications, and what you will be doing about rubbish removal.
Changes to common property (Section 108)
These are considered major renovations and where things get a little trickier. In a nutshell, an owners’ corporation or lot owner may add, alter or erect something new to improve the common property. But this action can only be taken however if a special resolution has been passed by the owners corp. The special resolution will also detail who has responsibility for its ongoing maintenance.
Removing internal walls falls under this section and requires approval as they may be loadbearing. Bathroom renovations also are considered a major change, which often surprises people. Waterproofing under the tiles is where the sticking point lies as it’s a question of who has responsibility for maintaining or repairing it.
Body corporate’s usually give approvals for renovations at scheduled Annual General Meetings (AGM) and sometimes at an Extraordinary General Meetings (EGM). Contact your strata management company to find out when this takes place.
What changes can I make that don’t require permission from the body corporate?
Cosmetic changes like a new lick of paint and different cupboard doors, door handles and internal light fittings can all go a long way to breathing new life into a faded beauty. However, tackling the strata red tape and making changes to your property that are impactful and perceived as hard is the key to adding value to your home.
Still have questions? Our talented design and build team can help. Call us today on 02 9907 4568 for a helpful chat or book your free consultation to get the ball rolling on your dream renovation.
The Perfect Space acknowledge that we have a duty to provide a safe workplace without risks to the health and safety of our team and our clients. This includes managing the risk of exposure to the coronavirus, COVID-19 and reducing any impact this may have to our clients, team members and contractors. We are still conducting business as usual and welcome you to contact us about your build.