If you’re a homeowner who is part of a strata community (and therefore an owners’ corporation), you know how important it is to keep your space fresh and fabulous.
But before you unleash your inner DIY powers and start on minor renovations (or decide to grab that sledgehammer), let’s talk about a crucial part of renovations: strata approval.
Trust us; you don’t want your renovation dreams to turn into a financial nightmare or, worse, end up undoing all your hard work. And just because something doesn’t need council approval, it still may need strata approval.
So, let’s find out what you need strata approval for when doing minor renovations or major renovations and how to get the approval you need.
The Strata Schemes Management Act
In 2015, the NSW Strata Management Act underwent a makeover of its own, introducing some changes to home renovation rules for people who are part of an owners’ corporation.
These changes mean it’s a whole lot easier than it was before to spruce up your place while keeping the peace in your strata community.
Strata Renovation Rules: What Do You Need Strata Approval For?
Before you start rearranging your furniture, installing or replacing hardware or picking out new tiles, it’s essential to check your strata by-laws for the lowdown on renovation do’s and don’ts.
While the rules can vary, here are some minor renovations and some major renovations that might need strata approval:
1. Changing taps, faucets, or shower heads
In most cases, you can swap out outdated taps or shower heads without the need for approval. Installing or replacing this kind of hardware is totally up to you—unless they’re hiding in the walls or hanging out in the common property zone.
2. Updating your kitchen cabinetry
Kitchen makeovers usually fall under the minor renovations category, including things like installing or replacing cabinetry.
But don’t go all out on that Masterchef kitchen just yet; it’s best to confirm best practise for your building before you get started.
3. Changing doors
As far as minor renovations go, you’ve got the green light to change your internal doors without approval.
But if you’re thinking of upgrading your front or external doors, make sure to check in. That’s because these kinds of external changes will affect common property.
4. Replacing curtains or blinds
Go ahead and add style to your windows with new curtains or blinds. This wouldn’t even be considered in the minor renovations category.
Just remember when installing or replacing window coverings to choose colours that won’t clash with the building’s overall vibe or common property, as per your owners’ corporation style guide.
5. Replacing flooring
Carpet lovers, rejoice! Most of the time, you won’t need approval to replace your floor coverings, especially carpet or other soft floor coverings.
However, keep an eye out for any by-laws on soundproofing if you’re going for floating timber flooring.
6. Work involving reconfiguring walls
Planning to knock down that internal wall that’s cramping your style? You’ll need a nod of approval from the owners’ corporation.
It’s also a good idea to consult with an engineer to make sure the renovations you’ve planned maintain the structural integrity of your internal walls so they don’t start crumbling down around you!
7. Retiling your bathroom
When it comes to anything water-related, like giving your bathroom a facelift with new tiles or making plumbing tweaks, it’s a good idea to chat with your strata committee and owners’ corporation before any proposed works commence. This is because your proposed changes likely involve changes to the common property.
Even with strata approval, keep in mind that you’ll be the go-to person for any future touch-ups and maintenance.
8. Painting Walls
Painting your walls is all about sprucing things up and making your home feel more ‘you.’
Just keep in mind, while it’s usually okay, it’s wise to check any specific rules your strata community might have. You want your home’s look to compliment the style of common property areas.
9. Filling minor holes
Feel free to hammer in some nails, cover tiny cracks and take on the task of filling minor holes without the need for approval.
If you’re planning to get more adventurous however? Then ask your strata committee, the owners corporation or clarify at the next general meeting.
How to get strata approval for renovations
Now that you know what minor renovations or major renovations you might need strata approval for, let’s talk about how to get that approval. Here’s the basic steps for both minor renovations and major renovations:
1. Check the By-Law
Review each by-law to understand the specific requirements for renovations.
2. Consult with Your Strata Manager
Reach out to your strata manager to double check the approval process. They can help you gather all the necessary documentation for your request.
3. Submit your request
Prepare a formal request for approval and submit it to your strata committee, owners corporation, or strata manager. Make sure your proposal aligns with the strata by-laws and doesn’t mess with the building’s structural integrity, appearance or common property.
4. Wait for the green light
Once you’ve submitted your request, be patient and wait for the green light. Your strata committee will review your proposal and give the thumbs-up if everything checks out.
The fine print: Understanding strata by-Laws
To complete a successful renovation project in your strata property, you’ll need to get a handle on your strata community’s by-laws. A by-law makes up rule for where you live, spelling out the dos and don’ts of renovations.
Here are some common themes:
1. Noise restrictions
Nobody wants to be woken up by jackhammers at the crack of dawn. Most by-laws include rules about when you can make noise during renovations.
Renovations will typically be limited to daylight hours to keep the peace.
If you’re considering a switch from carpet to hardwood, be sure to check the relevant by-law. Some strata schemes have specific requirements for soundproofing to prevent noise disturbance for your neighbours downstairs.
3. Common property
Anything related to common property—like hallways, stairwells, and shared amenities—is usually off-limits for renovations. Common property areas are maintained by the owners corporation and are a no-go zone for your personal DIY ambitions.
4. Structural changes
Major structural changes, like knocking down walls or altering the building structure, are almost always a big no-no without prior approval. These alterations can impact the building’s integrity and safety, so they’re closely regulated.
5. Colours and Aesthetics
Even if you have the green light for painting, be mindful of the colours you choose. A by law may restrict certain bold or unconventional choices to maintain a consistent look for the building.
Navigating the strata approval process
Now that you’ve got a handle on what needs approval and the importance of strata by-laws, let’s navigate the strata approval process so you can start your journey like a seasoned strata renovator.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind:
1. Review your By-Laws
Start by reviewing the by-laws. These can typically be found in your strata management documents. Understanding these rules will help you avoid potential roadblocks down the renovation road.
2. Consult with your strata manager
Your strata manager is your renovation guru. Reach out to them early in the planning stage to discuss your project and get insights into the specific requirements and processes for where you live. You can also ask questions at the next general meeting.
3. Gather your documentation
Every strata scheme may have slightly different requirements for the approval process. Gather all the necessary documentation, including plans, designs, and any other details requested by your strata committee or owners’ corporation prior to submitting your renovation request.
4. Submit your request
Prepare a formal request for approval, including all the documentation you’ve gathered. Be sure to follow the submission process outlined by your strata scheme. This often involves submitting your request to the strata committee or owners corporation for review.
5. Patience is key
Once you’ve submitted your request, the waiting game begins. Your strata committee or owners corporation will review your proposal, considering its impact on the building, your property rights by law and compliance.
6. Get the Green Light
If your renovation plans are deemed acceptable by your strata committee or owners’ corporation, you’ll receive the coveted green light for your project.