Rules on renovations in strata managed apartments and property
There are three types of renovations for strata:
- cosmetic work
- minor renovations, or
- major renovations.
When you need approval
Owners can do cosmetic work without approval. This includes day-to-day work such as interior painting, filling minor holes and cracks in internal walls, installing or replacing handrails within your lot, or installing nails, screws or hooks for paintings. Although approval isn’t required, it is important to liaise with any immediate neighbours as their properties may be affected by the works and noise.
Owners need approval before doing any minor work. Approval is either over 50 percent of the votes in favour or if authority to approve has been delegated to the strata committee, you will need the written approval from the strata committee. Minor work includes renovating a kitchen, installing hardwood floors, installing a clothesline or air conditioning. However, these cannot involve certain work, including changes to the outside appearance of a lot, structural changes or waterproofing.
Before undertaking minor renovations within your unit, it is important that written communications is sent describing the work proposed and the expected duration of the constructions be submitted to the strata committee before any works takes place. This would include:
- the full scope of work for the renovations (including plans and specifications)
- when the works will take place
- whether any common property is involved in the renovations e.g. floors, tiles (on external wall), how will the renovation be affixed (nails into common property walls etc), gas, electricity, water implications?
- qualifications and details of the tradespeople who will do the work.
Major renovations include structural changes, changes that affect the outside of the property such as stairs or access ramps, or works that need Council approval.
Major renovation work needs a special resolution vote. Then the owner must give the owners corporation at least 14 days written notice before the work starts. This should describe the proposed alteration. The owners corporation cannot delegate approval for major renovations to the strata committee.
Renovations and common property rights
If an owner needs to use part of the common property, like attaching an air conditioning unit to a common property wall, they must get approval through a common property rights by-law. The common property by-law must state who is responsible for maintaining the common property. This responsibility would either:
- stay with the owners corporation, or
- go to an owner or owners.
Before the by-law can be passed, the lot owner or owners must first:
- agree to the by-law.
- consent to maintaining the common property (if the by-law includes this).
How to commence obtaining approval
First, send all the information of the proposed works to your strata committee who will assess whether further approval from the owners corporation is necessary and whether your application is in line with the scheme’s by-laws or whether it will impact common property.
At this stage, the strata committee will also decide whether you will be required to arrange for a common property rights by-law which can be passed by the owners corporation by way of a special resolution at a general meeting. If this is the case then the owners corporation may seek for the by-law to be drafted at the owners expense.
What can happen if you don’t gain approval from the owners corporation?
If you don’t gain approval from the owners corporation prior to undertaking the renovations, you may be requested to reverse the renovations. This is generally a lengthy and expensive process.
What do I do when my renovations are approved?
You will need to notify your neighbours 24 hours prior to the commencement of the work, especially to notify them of any noisy work.
Ensure that you comply with your strata schemes by-laws that are relevant to the work being carried out. They may include:
- Noise and acoustic controls
- Carrying out building works
- Obstruction of common property
- Garbage disposal
- Changes to floor coverings and surfaces
- Damage to common property
Once the renovations are completed, you will need to notify the owners corporation so that we can ensure that the strata schemes insurance company is aware of the changes in order to make any alterations to the insurance policy. By following these steps it will ensure that your renovations are carried out properly, if you are unsure at any stage, just talk to your strata manager.
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REPAIRS & MAINTENANCE
- Waverley Council – Building Futures
- Ku-ring-gai Council – Smart Units Rebates
- City of Sydney – Smart Green Apartments
- City of Sydney – Food Scraps Recycling Trial
- Lane Cove Council – Greener Apartments Program
- Canada Bay Council – Our Energy Future
- Randwick City Council – Community Sustainable
- North Sydney Council – Futureproofing Apartments
- City of Ryde – Home Waste and Sustainability Advisory Service