Renovating and refreshing your strata property has the potential to increase its attraction to prospective buyers and tenants while also improving its value. And with an abundance of television shows all showcasing the latest in renovation trends, it’s natural to want to get in on some of the DIY or makeover action.

But before you go knocking down walls or installing the latest floating flooring, here’s what you need to know about renovating a strata property.

Who owns what?

Strata properties are a little different to conventional houses in that some areas are classed as common property, while others are the domain of the resident. And that means there may be restrictions on what you can do to some areas of your apartment or townhouse.

NSW Fair Trading explains common areas include the exterior of the building and may also take in fixtures like doors and windows, while the space within the four walls of the unit are the resident’s domain.

In practice this means you will need to seek permission to alter anything that might affect the look of the building from the exterior (such as balcony railings, and sliding doors onto patios).

Meanwhile, anything that affects the physical structure of the building will also require permission. So, if you’re looking to remove or alter a wall, you will need to talk to the building manager or body corporate committee first.

It’s worth noting there may also be further restrictions under your building’s specific by-laws. Usually designed to maintain the look and style and amenity of a building, these rules can extend from the type of window furnishings you are allowed to have to the type of floor coverings you can use.

Some facts about floor coverings

Floor coverings is an interesting topic because many of the laws about this relate to noise mitigation. Some floors, such as floating wooden floors or tiled floors are more prone to creating noise for the occupant beneath you.

That means in multi-storey buildings, for example, there will be requirements for the type of underlay you have to use, and the type of flooring you are allowed to install.

A little about lighting

Another interesting area is lighting, or more specifically downlighting.

As we mentioned before, the owner of a strata property is responsible for the air space within that apartment, but in a multi-storey apartment this does not extend to the ceiling cavity above their strata property.

That means you can readily alter fixed, hanging or pendant lights, but lighting that protrudes into the ceiling cavity (such as downlighting) may also require permission.

Who gives permission?

In most cases the first port of call for any renovation plans should be your building manager or the strata committee, and a casual chat about your intentions is a good way to start.

They can point you in the direction of any by-laws that might apply or outline the type of approval you will need.

And in strata living it’s definitely wise to seek the required permission rather than hope for forgiveness. Should your renovations impinge on common property, affect the building structure or impact your neighbours negatively, you may be required to foot the bill for remedying the work.

Some advice for strata committees

A little clarity goes a long way when it comes to the by-laws that impact the look of a building and the more general rules about seeking permission for renovations.

When you openly share this information with your residents, include the reasoning behind it and also outline the appropriate channels they should go through, there is far less room for misunderstanding and less temptation for people to circumvent the rules.

About United Strata Solutions

United Strata Solutions is a NSW-based company with over 20 years real estate experience and specialist expertise in strata management.

Our services extend from property appraisals, sales and marketing through to comprehensive strata and centre management throughout New South Wales.

You can learn more about our services here, or contact us directly for further advice.