Most units or flats are smaller than houses, so they’re generally a lot easier to renovate, especially if the improvements are only cosmetic and not structural. But before you commit to any renovation of your unit, do some thorough research, check with the local council before you commit. Also, most importantly, check with the body corporate, perhaps a committee, or the strata manager, about the legislation and by-laws surrounding the building and changes made to it. Almost every body corporate will have different rules and regulations, so do be sure to check.
If you’re a buyer and you want to fix-and-flip a unit, find out first off ‘who is responsible for what’ in the block you want to buy into because this varies from one development to the next. Checking with this person can save you money, especially if you're funding the project with a renovation loan or digging into your home equity when the strata fund might be responsible for the cost of specific improvements.
Here are some ways to deal with some of the challenges you’ll face renovating a unit..
Renovating in a high-rise block of units
Improvements to a unit in a high rise block come with some different things to consider. Bodies corporate will probably require your tradies to enter the block at set times to work, and that they all have security clearances. Structural changes in units are not often allowed, and you usually can’t change common areas, but you are more likely to be able to alter anything that isn’t structural. Changes to fixtures and fittings, floor coverings, kitchen joinery, and appliances are generally permitted. Also, stay in touch with the neighbours and strata manager to relay and information such as when the lift will be in use, when loud noise will be heard, and don’t obstruct anyone’s passage through common areas. Above all, make sure you adhere to body corporate and council guidelines on work hours, cleanliness and safety.
Plan Everything With Meticulous Care
When renovating a house, there’s room for multiple tradies to work there at the same time without tripping over each other. There’s usually room to leave tools rubbish and other building materials, but in a unit, there’s rarely any available space for storage. The only way around it when renovating a unit is to carefully and strictly plan the tradies’ schedules. By plotting specific dates to each different tradie, they can get their work finished much faster than if they had to elbow other tradies for space to work.
Get Permission Before a Demolition
You can't just start knocking walls down willy nilly when renovating a unit. Be sure to carefully read all the corporate by-laws and make sure you get any required permissions before you start any kind of unit renovation to avoid any nasty surprises. You will no doubt have to submit your plans to the strata committee and get the green light before you or anyone else can start bashing into walls. The approval process could take some time, so get in as early as you can to avert extra costs while you’re waiting to have the job started, and also factor possible delays and unexpected expenses into your budget, so you don’t run out of funds before you finish the renovation.
Keeping the Neighbours Happy
When your plans to renovate are approved, you must tell all the other tenants in the building that you’re about to start work. They will want to be prepared for any inconveniences rather than waking up to a sudden cacophony of hammering, drilling and sawing and tradies tramping in and out of the block all day possibly leaving a mess behind them. And make sure the tradies are following the approved times for doing their noisy work - this is found in your by-laws. These times are generally no earlier than 7 am and no later than 5 pm during the week and possibly later than 7 am on weekends. It’s best to use weekdays to have the essential jobs done because you certainly won’t have happy neighbours if you disturb their weekends.
To keep the neighbours on your side, coordinate and plan any interruptions to services such as cutting off the water supply or power. Try to arrange a convenient time that is less likely to cause disruption, such as at midday when most people are out working. Another thing to consider is whether the strata laws allow bare floorboards (the noise factor for those living beneath you). It all comes down to homework and research, consulting the body corporate or strata manager and all should go well for you.
Alex Morrison has worked with a range of businesses giving him an in depth understanding of many different industries including home improvement, financial support and health care. He has used his knowledge and experience to work for clients as diverse as The Wood Tech Group, Cosh Living and Me Bank to help them reach their business goals