This article outlines what needs to be considered before undertaking renovations in a strata property whether it’s to an individual lot or common property.
The Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 differentiates between three main renovation categories. Below provides some basic guidance only and you should discuss the nature of your works with your strata manager at Professionals Strata Management Hornsby for further clarification.
The most basic of works undertaken as part of a renovation are cosmetic works and do not require the approval of, or notification to the Owners Corporation. Below is an example of works that fall into this category:
- installing or replacing hooks, nails or screws for hanging paintings and other things on walls
- filling minor holes and cracks in internal walls
- installing or replacing built-in wardrobes
- laying carpet
- installing or replacing internal blinds and curtains
The owner must ensure that
- any damage caused to any part of the common property is repaired, and
- the works are carried out in a ‘competent and proper manner’
- rubbish is not left on common property at any time or not disposed using the general garbage bins
Important to note:
- Alterations to the external appearance of a lot and work that detrimentally affects the safety of a lot or common property, including fire safety systems, are not covered under cosmetic works.
- As a courtesy to fellow residents it is advisable to notify your neighbours of the date and timing of noisy works by way of a notice and limit any disruptions where possible.
The next level of works are classed as minor works and these require formal approval by the Owners Corporation at general meeting or if the relevant by-law has been passed, approval can be provided at a Strata Committee meeting. Below are an example of works that fall into this category:
- renovating a kitchen
- changing recessed light fittings
- installing or replacing wood or other hard floors
- installing or replacing wiring or cabling or power or access points
- work involving reconfiguring walls
- removing carpet or other soft floor coverings to expose underlying wooden or installing other hard floors
- installing a reverse cycle split system air conditioner
- installing double or triple glazed windows,
- installing ceiling insulation
Important to note:
Before undertaking works, the minimal details required for the Owners Corporation to consider approval are details of the work including copies of any plans, duration and times of the work, details of the persons carrying out the work (including qualifications to carry out the work) and any arrangements to manage any resulting rubbish or debris. Please contact our office to obtain an application form. Completed forms are then used to assist the Owner’s Corporation to make a decision promptly.
Work affecting common property
- Works of this nature require approval from the Owners Corporation and should not be carried out unless you are authorised to do so. Approval for an owner to add, alter or erect a new structure on/to common property will require approval by Special Resolution of the Owners Corporation and a by-law specifying, amongst other things, the responsibility of the ongoing maintenance and clearly define the transferable rights and obligations for the works. Below are examples of works that fall into this category.
- Work involving waterproofing (required when there is any re-tiling of a wet area)
- Work involving structural changes
- Work that changes the external appearance of the lot
- Work for which consent or another approval is required under any Act
Important to note:
A by-law may need to be specially drafted, for example, if work includes taking on exclusive use of a parcel of common property that improves the value of a lot. Cost of the By-Law drafting and registration will be at an additional cost payable by the owner.
A by-law cannot be amended or repealed unless the owner of the lot has provided their consent in writing to the Owner’s Corporation.
Renovation Application Form
If you are considering applying for renovation works at a property managed by Strata Life, please click the below link to complete an initial application and you strata manager will be in contact to discuss further.
Frequently asked questions about strata renovations
Why bother with a motion and by-law?
From the Owners Corporation perspective:
A By-law ensures that the obligation to repair and maintain the renovation remains with the owner of the lot and any subsequent owners of the lot.
The formal process of application and approval ensures that the required obligations are met. For example that only licensed and insured contractors undertake works at the building.
From the Lot Owners perspective:
If not approved the Owners Corporation can require that you remove any works undertaken and reinstate common property.
When looking to sell you unit potential purchasersmay wish to view documentationconfirming that works have been undertaken with the correctapprovals in place.
What is a Special Resolution?
A special resolution can only be passed at a general meeting of the Owners Corporation (i.e. the Annual General Meeting or an Extraordinary General Meeting).
The special resolution motion is passed if no more than 25% of owners entitled to vote (of the aggregate unit entitlement), at the meeting, vote against it.
What is Home Owners Warranty Insurance (HOWI) and why do I need it?
The current scheme is Home Building Compensation Fund which replaces all previous schemes and insurance arrangements.
In basic terms – HOWI provides protection to owners in relation to defective or incomplete works where the owner cannot recover from the builder or developer because of circumstances such as death, insolvency, license suspension or disappearance.
HOWI is required for any residential building works where the contracted works are over $20,000.
This is a complex matter and further information should be obtained here:
About Strata Life – Strata Management Services
At Strata Life we strive to take the pressure of the day to day running of a strata scheme off of the shoulders of the committee members and owners. Whilst the nature of strata itself does mean that the owners/ committee are responsible for the decisions, the pressure is reduced by having a proactive manager provide guidance with a plain sense approach and quickly actioning issues as they arise.
We appreciate Committee members often have full time jobs and busy lives. Add to this that the strata scheme is often your home where Committee members do not want to have to police other residents.
Our aim is to minimise the work and time where we can, take on the role of reminding owners and residents of the by-laws so that everyone can peacefully enjoy community living.
Our team has extensive experience with properties on the Upper North Shore, Hornsby and the Northern Beaches areas, with excellent local contractors and superior local knowledge.
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Get in touch
Whether you’re an existing client or not, our strata managers are here to help with all matters relating to strata schemes and community living. Our office is open Monday – Friday, 8am – 6pm to answer your call or, for after-hours assistance, please complete our online enquiry form and we’ll get back to you the following business day.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is general information only and not legal advice. The currency, accuracy and completeness of this article (and its contents) should be checked by obtaining independent legal advice before you take any action or otherwise rely upon its contents in any way. Strata Life disclaims any liability for negligence or otherwise in any way connected with this article.