Living in a stratum building has its benefits, but also aspects that can be confusing for some. The cost of living is at the all-time lows. People are moving towards high rise apartments in more dense areas. When it comes to renovating such property, first we need to acquire an approval before even thinking of getting a hammer. Streamlining the process of getting one, along with other things is what we are going to cover in this article. Renovating a unit is complicated. And that is even before we incorporate the owner factor into the equation. So, here is what we need to know before making our first move.
1. The basics
To start things off, some may wonder what is a strata? In a nutshell, a strata is an Australian property law that allows us to own a slightly bigger building with shared ownership of other common property. It is managed by the owner's corporation or body corporate. In Sydney, strata accounts for more than half of all residential properties. Owners corporations owns and is in charge of maintaining everything under our paint and floors. This means we own and can renovate anything on the inside of these boundaries. Doors, bathroom vanities, wall-coverings, and many more are all fair game. Where it gets tricky is when we want to remove internal walls or replace bathroom tiles, for example. These are the situations we need to seek permission for.
2. The laws
The laws surrounding this topic vary around Australia. Therefore, it is important for us to familiarize ourselves with the legislation relative to our location. These laws define what types of projects require seeking official permission and which ones do not. Also, they give information and details about various things such as the minimal amount of notice we must provide to our neighbors. A good thing to know is that strata laws are often reviewed and adjusted. Renovations are typically divided into three levels or tiers. Tier 1 relates to minor or cosmetic changes. These do not require permissions and approvals. So, making minor additions such as hanging pictures is perfectly fine. Next, we have tier 2. Minor renovations that require general resolution or 50% approval from owners corporation. These are the additions and adjustments that do not have an impact on the property’s external appearance or waterproofing. Basically, the ones that do not require any structural changes. This does include kitchen renovations or the installment of new floorboards. Finally, we have tier 3. These are major renovations which require special resolution or 75% of owners corporation approval. These types of renovations include structural changes. External appearance or waterproofing will be affected. These can seem like a bit more of a stretch when getting the necessary approval. But another good thing to know is that we can always turn to professionals like the Stevensen Business Lawyers if at first we do not get it.
3. How to obtain approval
When and only when we have all the necessary knowledge on the legislation and associated by-laws, are we ready to put together an application. The type of intended renovations is relevant and could involve an architect for at least the preliminary drawings phase. Having such an expert on our side will solidify our chance of getting approval. It can be downright necessary in some cases. Specific details will be required from us. These include the type of works and their impact on common property, the duration of the project, and the usage of said common areas during the renovations. The more information we can provide, the better. Discussing these details with the owners is also recommended and will lead to greater chances of getting the necessary permissions. Our neighbors also play a vital role here. The more information they have, the greater the chances of them voting in our favor. Now that we have the approval, the owners corporation can their own conditions. They could raise the question of materials used in the project, the working hours, or the required licenses of builders and tradesmen involved.
When the project finally gets approved and is underway, we are responsible for making sure everyone adheres to strata by-laws for the duration of the project. Each plan is governed by these which deals with matters like the obstruction of common property or noise. We will be held accountable for any and all damage to common property that might occur during the realization of the project. Thankfully, with this thoroughly laid-out plan, we can keep the risk to a minimum. Finally, we can start making our home truly ours.
By Daniel Brown