Strata By-Laws And Renovating - What You Need To Know

Renovating can come with its own set of challenges and whilst this can be complicated enough if you live in an apartment building or block with a strata scheme have you considered if you need approval from the owner’s corporation?

Whilst the rules can vary from State to State in New South Wales renovations can be classified into three categories - cosmetic, minor and major and depending on the work that you plan to undertake will determine the approval process.

 
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So, Where Do I Start?

When planning to renovate your property within a strata scheme, it is important to consider what type of renovation work you will be doing and at what point you need to consult your owner's corporation for approval.

Under most strata titles, the owner’s corporation owns and maintains everything beneath your paint and floor coverings. This means you own - and can potentially renovate - everything from the interior walls in.

Internal doors, kitchen cabinetry, bathroom vanities and wall coverings are fair game, but you’ll need to ask permission to change common property - the walls, windows, front and balcony doors, some types of lights and most types of flooring - like changing the carpet to floorboards.

If you’re keen to update a strata-titled property, you’re limited in what you can and can’t do by your property boundary and existing by-laws. Your first step is to read the by-laws and get in touch with your strata manager. These rules govern the use of common property and outline what is and isn’t allowed when it comes to renovations. Importantly, by-laws can vary significantly from strata to strata so even if you’ve renovated before, it pays to check.

Finally, before you even think about picking up that paintbrush or hammer you will need to do the usual checks with your local council and perhaps even the state government to ensure your renovation plans fit within regulations and requirements.

 
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Have You Considered Your Neighbours?

As with every aspect of communal living, being nice to the neighbours will make the renovation process much easier and as with most things, good communication is key. It is important that you keep the other residents informed about the progress of your plans and give them plenty of notice as to when any renovations will commence. You don’t want to upset the apple cart.

As soon as any renovations get underway, you’re responsible for making sure tradesman adhere to strata by-laws whilst they’re completing the project. Some issues include noise and whether or not you need permission to have a skip on site and if they’ll need to use visitor parking.

Quick Check

Confused? Here is a quick guide to the basics:

Walls You can paint and paper your walls, but for anything else as small as mounting your new TV to removing walls altogether you’ll need permission to ensure you aren’t interfering with noise insulation and the building’s structural integrity.

Flooring Replacing carpets isn’t usually a problem, but you’ll want to check about floorboards as most strata’s have strict by-laws to protect your downstairs neighbours.

Kitchen and Bathrooms You’re free to replace your old kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities. For anything that may cause a leak, such as tiling or changing the location of pipes, you’ll need prior approval.

Windows and Doors Any boundary entrances - such as the front and balcony doors - including all windows are common property so you can’t just replace the front door or fit new windows. In some cases, the same goes for curtains and blinds.

Light Fittings You can replace internal light fittings, but you’ll need permission to retrofit downlights because an incorrect installation may compromise the building’s fire safety certificate.

Strata Laws are provided to give your clarity in terms of when the approval of the owner's corporation is required for renovations, and how that approval is to be obtained. Be sure to do your due diligence and ensure that your renovation is smooth sailing.