Do you need Strata Approval for renovations?
If you are renovating a strata property then it is very important for you to consider whether or not you need approval for renovations. This is because failure to obtain approval can be very costly and upsetting as you may have to change the property back to how the property was before the renovations!
Until recently, all renovations to strata property were required to be approved by 75% or more of the owners at a General Meeting.
The new Strata Schemes Management Act now classifies renovations into the following three categories:
- Minor; and
The type of approval required, if any, will depend on the type of renovations you wish to make. If you are conducting cosmetic renovations, then you do not need approval.
If you are conducting minor renovations, you only require approval by a simple majority of owners, being more than 50%.
Finally, the only time you require “special approval” which is 75% or more of the owners, is if your renovations are major.
What are Cosmetic Renovations?
Cosmetic renovations include, but are not limited to:
- installing or replacing hooks, nails or screws for hanging paintings and other things on walls,
- installing or replacing handrails,
- filling minor holes and cracks in internal walls,
- laying carpet,
- installing or replacing built-in wardrobes,
- installing or replacing internal blinds and curtains,
- any other work prescribed by the Regulations for the purposes of this subsection of the Act.
The Owners Corporation can declare other types of work are ‘cosmetic’. They would need to pass a by-law to do so. Such work must not be a major or minor renovation.
What are Minor Renovations?
Minor renovations include, but are not limited to:
- 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 other hard floors,
- installing a rainwater tank,
- installing a clothesline,
- installing a reverse cycle split system air conditioner,
- installing a solar photovoltaic system or solar hot water,
- installing a heat pump,
- installing ceiling insulation.
What are Major Renovations?
The Act does not provide a list for major renovations as any renovations that are not “minor” or “cosmetic” are deemed to be major renovations.
Some examples of major renovations include, but are not limited to:
- structural changes.
- changes requiring waterproofing such as removal/replacement of tiles, tubs, basins. etc in laundries and bathrooms.
- new plumbing work such as for water and drainage.
- repositioning of rooms such as kitchen, bathroom and laundries.
- demolition of walls.
- installation of awnings or pergolas.
- changes affecting the outside appearance of the property.
- any other works that need approval under other laws (such as Local Council approval).
- changes to the ceiling, creating a false ceiling.
Sometimes the works you wish to conduct may not be clearly identifiable as “major works” particularly, where the ordinary person generally does not have extensive knowledge and understanding as to the nature of the works.
Therefore, it would be prudent to inform and seek approval from the Owners Corporation for any and all “minor” and “major” works that you are seeking to undertake. This will ensure that you are not in breach.
Damage to Common Property
Regardless of the type of renovation you are conducting, you will be responsible for any and all damage that occurs in relation to the common property.
It is very important that you understand the type of renovation being conducted and whether you are required to obtain approval. Failure to do so can be very costly, as you may be obliged to change your strata unit back to how it was before the renovations.