If you’re looking to renovate your place, you might run into some obstacles along the way. Sometimes your lot contains parts that belong to common property, so changing them will require approval from the owner’s corporation, depending on the type of renovation. Don’t let this scare you off from switching things up, though. The rules in place aren’t restrictions, so if you follow them, your renovations will be underway in no time. Here are some pointers to avoid headaches when renovating your strata lot.
Know what type of renovation you want to do
The body corporate has restrictions in place depending on what kind of renovation you have in mind. Cosmetic changes are a type of renovation that is pretty straightforward. Mostly surface things like nails or screws for hanging paintings or other things on walls, installing handrails on your walls, painting and filling walls, etc. These are less likely to cause trouble and you are free to do them as you please.
Minor renovations and other renovations are a bit different. Things like changing light fittings, reconfiguration of inner walls, clothes lines, and air conditioners. You should first seek approval from the owners’ corporation before doing these things, it might even be up for a vote.
Stay on your neighbour’s good side
Before you start tearing down that wall like it’s in your way, consider that those other people also live in the strata apartment building and might be annoyed with the noise. Offer your neighbours the courtesy of warning them when you’ll be renovating and causing a mess, and also give them a rough estimate for how long it will take.
Your neighbours understand that noise and banging is just a part of strata life, but if you don’t warn them, they might put up a fuss with body corporate and try to stop you. Stay on good terms with your neighbours and tell them that you’ll stick to the strata guidelines and not infringe on their part of the lot. Assure them that you’ll keep the noise down on Saturday mornings so they can sleep in peace.
Call in an expert
You may think of yourself as a virtuoso in renovation and creativity, but designers and renovations experts are on a whole other level. They will know how to use every single spare inch of your lot to its fullest. They also know the extent of the rules they have to keep in mind when building and renovating. This will keep headaches and complaints from corporate to a minimum.
Stay in touch with body corporate and let them know you’re bringing in a renovator, this will make them feel at ease about the whole ordeal. If you still opt for bringing the creativity yourself, stay in touch with Strata Corporation and make sure you don’t mess anything up.
Know what belongs to you
Anything that isn’t common property is what belongs to you. Now what exactly is common property is for you to find out. Things such as internal doors, cabinets, wall coverings are all in your jurisdiction and you are free to change them however you please. Some other things are a bit of a grey area in terms of ownership. To get exact information, some strata lot owners consult Eling strata or other firms that specialize in this kind of knowledge.
Internal walls might require permission from the body corporate if you wish to tear them down to make space or make more of them to segment your rooms. Certain kinds of floor tile for bathrooms and hardwood floors might be subject to discussion as well.
Check the insurance
Not your insurance, per se. You need to check the insurance of the people you might hire to help renovate and tear down walls and such. Since the building is common owned, you need to make sure any damages and liabilities are taken care of and insured. Body corporate will hound you if it isn’t. Check if their certificate of currency is up-to-date because accidents can happen and you don’t want to be the one on the hook for the bill if something happens to a neighbour or lot property.
It’s probably not the smartest idea to use a mate-of-a-mate to fix your plumbing or re-tile your bathroom, get a plumber instead. Remember to update your own insurance as well, just in case. If the renovation adds additional value to the lot and disaster strikes, you don’t want to lose all that extra money.
In conclusion, while renovating a strata property means careful planning and knowing tons of rules, it is definitely feasible and very satisfying when done. You might have to jump through a few hoops and hope you don’t tread on a cranky persons’ property, but at least your lot will look and feel more refreshed than it was before. And in the end that makes it worth it.