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Renovating your Apartment – Body Corporate Requirements

If you’re thinking of renovating your unit, good on you.  There’s nothing like a makeover to give you a beautiful home to relax in, and can often increase the value – if done tastefully, and meets all regulations and codes.

But bear in mind, that even though you own the Unit, there are things you need to check thoroughly, and processes you need to follow to ensure you don’t compromise the structural integrity, contravene any of your Scheme’s By-Laws, or undertake unauthorised work.

There are many restrictions in place when it comes to apartment renovations, so you need to understand what you can and can’t do.  Legally, if you don’t abide by the restrictions and decisions, you could be made to restore everything to how it was.  And if during the process, you or your trade contractors damage any common property areas, you will be up for the repair bill.

Check Common Property Areas

The first thing to check thoroughly is whether any of the areas you are planning to renovate are classified as common property.  You will need solid advice on where your lot property ends and where common property begins.  Often kitchens, bathrooms and laundries are located on external walls, which means they’re adjoining common property, and you will need to get permission from your Body Corporate Committee before commencing any work.  Particularly in the case of bathrooms, where work may affect the waterproof membrane.

Check Structural Walls

If your lot is on the lower levels of a multi-storey building, then the chances of being able to remove internal walls are nearly zilch.  Most of the internal walls in an apartment are load bearing, so if you take out a wall it can cause structural damage and cracking in the apartments above.

Review ByLaws

Many schemes have specific bylaws about what cannot be done to external facing areas , which may surprise you!  There may be limitations on:

  • Uniformity of curtains and blinds and shutters
  • The amount (and type) of items you can have on a balcony
  • Installing an airconditioner

Sometimes there are also restrictions on what you can do internally – for example, some Schemes have rules around hard floors due to possible noise transference to adjoining apartments.  Most by-laws we’ve seen relating to this specify that owners need to ensure that acoustic sound proofing (that meets the Australian Standard) is installed first.

Get Permission

The best thing to do is to notify your Body Corporate Manager first of the scope of works for your renovation.

Most renovation work will cause disruption to residents, so it really is in your best interests to have your body corporate on side, as well as your nearby neighbours.  Your trades people will need parking and access, rubbish will need to be removed, there may be noise from power tools, smells from paints and glues etc – and all of these will impact residents’ rights to live in a peaceful, quiet community.

At Tower Body Corporate, we will tell you if you require approval from the Committee for the work you are planning to do.  If you do, we’ll tell you how you should go about getting it, and any additional actions you may need to take to complete your works to the satisfaction of the greater community.

It’s far easier to gain permission and co-operation up front, than it is to be forgiven afterwards.

By Kelly Borell

I have a Diploma in Business Management, Cert IV Property Services (Operations) and thoroughly enjoy working in the Strata Management industry. I particularly enjoy building a good rapport with people and providing reliable help.

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