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Strata Approval For Renovations - What Is The Process?

“You’ll often need to obtain strata approval before you can do any upgrades, as, unlike with a freestanding home, work done in a strata building will have an effect on the neighbouring units.” Sarah Megginson, Your Investment Property Mag .

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Doing renovations and upgrades is an exciting option to revamp a tired home, add value or to make changes that will improve the function of the space. Depending on if you are a tenant or an owner of the property will decide what approvals you will need and what laws you need to follow.

Tenant Requirement

As a tenant in strata - in principle, most changes to the building will need to be approved by your landlord, who in turn may need to get Owners Corporation approval. If you want to hang pictures or curtains, paint walls, install paid TV antenna/satellite dishes, or make any changes to the property, you will most likely need to get permission from your landlord.

What if you are an owner?

As an owner you will need to get permission for certain changes and upgrades, but not all changes. This differs from state to state and is mainly determined by the by-laws of each Strata title. NSW has simplified this slightly by the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (“SSMA 2015”) for Owners Corporations who adopt the model by-laws. You may also be required to get council approval for changes, so it is very important to research and ask questions before you begin any renovations or upgrades to your property.

Basic principles apply for all states, however, one of the main issues to be taken into consideration is whether the work you are undertaking will affect the outside of the building, the structure and or integrity of the building or your neighbours in any way.

For example, you may think that repainting is minor work and generally, you would not need approval to repaint the inside of your property. However, if you intend to paint the outside of your front door, garage door, or even your roof with a different colour to what it is currently, this is unlikely to be allowed within strata. You can understand why, knowing that each resident, as we do as individuals, have different preferences. Additionally, something simple that doesn’t feel like a renovation or major change such as wanting to tint your windows, is potentially an update that would need approval for and perhaps may not be allowable in your strata complex or even be limited to certain tint types dependent on the by-laws.

These limitations also extend to things like:

  • installing air conditioning
  • satellite dishes
  • patio covers
  • shade sails
  • additional external lighting

All of these examples will need Owners Corporation approval (and potentially council approval) who can provide details on what is and isn’t allowed in terms of placement of outdoor units, colours, sizes, etc. and if, or under what conditions, they are allowed.

Another thing to consider is the noise your renovation may make or what other issues it may cause. Re-doing bathrooms and changing flooring can be areas that need approval as there are waterproofing issues for the bathroom and then also the noise to consider if you want to change from carpet to tiles in a high-rise complex for example.

So, what is the process?

1. If you are renovating a strata-titled property, read the by-laws. These rules govern the use of common property and outline what is and isn't allowed when it comes to renovations. By-laws vary significantly for different strata complexes, so even if you've renovated before, you need to check.

2. Determine the renovations you would like to have done.

3. If they fall into the scope of requiring Owners Corporation approval or you are unsure, get in contact with your Owners Corporation for them to clarify:

i) exactly if and what they require you to submit

ii) the timeframes around that

iii) the format your application will need to be in

iv) whether there are any fees for your application

4. This may mean you will have to get quotes and details for the job/s and for there to be evidence that licenced tradesmen will be performing the work.

5. Provide your Owners Corporation with all the information they require, neatly presented and within the timeframes they have requested.

It is always better to ask questions and check rather than end up doing something that creates a problem later or worse still, has to be undone.

And as with any renovations:

1. Ensure you get multiple quotes.

2. Ensure your chosen tradesman is licenced, registered and has the necessary insurance.

3. Be prepared for potential extra expenses - not everything always goes to plan.

4. Ensure that your tradesmen do not disturb neighbours through lack of consideration or block entrances and exit or leave building materials in common areas.

Need more information on renovating your unit within a strata titled property? Contact our knowledgeable and experienced Ace Body Corporate Managers and they will be happy to help

Ace Body Corporate Management
Disclaimer: This is not advice and should only be referred to for general information purposes. Strata management contracts often vary, so we recommend you contact your local Ace manager for more information, or seek expert legal advice. This article is not intended to be personal advice, and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.Ace Body Corporate Management offers this newsletter to clients to assist in updating them on company and industry news. The content within this newsletter is of a generic nature and may not be applicable to all owners corporations. Ace Body Corporate Management attempts to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information for our clients. However, we strongly recommend that individuals and committees seek further advice before acting on any information in this newsletter.