Renovating whenever you please is part of the great Australian dream for many homeowners. For people who live in strata schemes, renovations can quickly become problematic. There are some big hurdles that apartment owners need to get over in order to get closer to their dream renovation. The specifics of renovating in a strata scheme aren’t complicated, but they can overwhelm new lot owners that aren’t yet familiar with the process. Here are some important pointers that might help new lot owners with their renovation plans.
1. Who do I consult for permissions?
New lot owners will quickly become acquainted with the power structure that surrounds strata schemes. Strata schemes are governed by a legal entity that is called “body corporate”. This entity is made up of all the different lot owners in the building. It’s a very intuitive ownership concept. Everyone in the building has to come together and discuss decisions that might affect the value and looks of the building. This can lead to issues when lot owners disagree with each other.
Renovations are a particularly controversial topic in strata scheme circles. There are lots of by-laws that dictate what you can and can’t do to your apartment and surrounding areas and this can pose a problem for many lot owners. If a lot owner isn’t familiar with the rules that surround renovations in their lot, conflict with body corporate is inevitable.
Bathrooms are some of the most commonly renovated areas in houses and apartments. This rings true in strata schemes as well. Perhaps you want to introduce some colourful new tiles to break the monotony of white porcelain in your bathroom. Maybe you’ve learned of a new and interesting bathroom fixture that you think would make a fine addition to your porcelain oasis. Many young Australian lot owners want to replace their showers with bathtubs and vice versa. There are lots of changes that you can make to your bathroom.
There are a few specifics to bathroom renovations in strata schemes. Things like tile replacement can be tricky. You’re allowed to make changes to wall tiles as you please, but floor tiles might require special permission from body corporate. This can confuse new homeowners because they are often made up of the exact same tiles. Installing new fixtures is considered a major change that requires a plumber, which is why consulting the committee is a must.
Kitchen overhauls might seem like a big deal, but they’re considered relatively minor renovations in strata lots. There’s plenty of scope when you’re renovating the kitchen area. Adding new appliances is entirely up to you. However, creating new electrical fixtures to power them might require some permissions and you might have to call an electrician.
Kitchen renovations often include things like adding a new counter to the area. You can consider it similar to adding an inner wall to your apartment. Unfortunately, there is some controversy that surrounds creating and knocking down inner walls. NSW strata rules generally allow these types of changes, but strata committees will try their best to prevent renovations that include knocking down walls. Before you get to work on renovations, you should consult professional strata services in Sydney to figure out what you can and can’t do in your lot.
4. Terraces and balconies
Balconies are considered an integral part of many Australian apartments. Unfortunately, balconies are a particularly problematic area when it comes to DIY renovations in a strata lot. They are part of your apartment, but they are also somewhat considered common property. Because they are visible from the outside, it’s in the best interest of the whole strata scheme that they are taken care of properly. This is why there are rules that limit what you can and can’t do on your balcony.
Affecting common property is considered a major renovation that requires prior consultation with body corporate. As with all strata rules, there is a bit of leeway when it comes to renovation. If body corporate considers your renovation beneficial to any part of the common property, they might give you special permissions that allow you to make significant changes to it.
Taking care of hallways is considered a joint effort by all of the lot owners in a strata scheme, but the committee can pass a by-law that lets you take care of a specific part of it, usually one that is adjacent to your apartment. You are then able to renovate and make changes, but the responsibility of keeping it tidy comes with those permissions.
Strata schemes might seem like a big mess of bureaucracy at first, but they’re far from it. The rules in place are made with the greater benefit of every lot owner in mind. Making significant changes to your strata lot could affect your neighbours and this is why some rules might seem a bit excessive. However, with a bit of open communication between you and body corporate, your renovating will go smoothly and without any complaints.
Author Bio: Liam Smith is a young and aspiring Australian blogger with a passion for everything related to home, design and lifestyle. He has a B.Sc. in Interior design and is an avid reader. Follow Liam on Twitter and Linkedin.