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  • #72666
    CeeKay8
    Flatchatter

      I recently acted as a proxy on behalf of my parents at the recent AGM (in NSW). One of the things I had to vote on was a new by-law for major renovations to be carried out by one of the owners, which then got me thinking.

      My parents renovated their kitchen and bathroom back around 2005/6, and they don’t believe they ever had to get a by-law enacted for it to be done, but the Owners Corp were advised of the renovations.

      Was the by-law requirement in place back in 2005/6 or have my parents “illegally” renovated their kitchen/bathroom? If the latter, what are the implications especially now that’s almost 20 years after the fact.

      • This topic was modified 2 weeks, 2 days ago by .
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    • #72719
      Jimmy-T
      Keymaster

        You may find that, having informed the OC, and that august body having decided not to do anything, then tacit permission has been given and, not only that, the default position is that the current OC is responsible for any repairs that may be required on common property.  In other words, forget about it.

        However, for future reference, here is a compilation of renovation regulations that I put together for ny investment property’s committee.

        Minor and Major Renovation Approvals (NSW)

        As owners of a unit you may feel that you can make any changes to your property that you wish: this is not the case.

        There are areas of your unit that are common property – or adjoin common property – or which have elements, notably waterproofing, that have implications for your neighbours or the whole scheme and therefore have restriction and regulations applied to them.

        To complicate matters even further there are three levels of renovation defined in the NSW strata Act each of which requires different levels of approval: cosmetic changes, minor renovations and major renovations affecting common property.

        For instance, changes to waterproofed areas are generally considered major renovations and as such require a common property by-law that can only be passed by a super-majority of 75% of owners voting at a general meeting.

        Waterproofed areas include but are not limited to:

        • All slabs above the basement
        • Retaining walls
        • Bathrooms floors & walls
        • Laundries floors & walls
        • Balconies floors, walls & hobs/masonry balustrades
        • Lobbies
        • Paths
        • Stairs
        • External podium

        To be clear, whenever any part of the building is to be disturbed – even if it is just to drill holes to fix something you wish to add to your property – it is best to check to see if there are waterproofing or common property elements involved.

        In the first instance, you can check with your Strata Committee Secretary, the strata manager or a committee member with specific knowledge of the building to see what level of approvals are required.

        Major or Minor?

        Minor renovations, as defined by NSW strata law (Strata Schemes Management and Strata Regulations Acts) can be approved by the Strata Committee but you still have to submit detailed plans before they can give approval.  Approval may be subject to reasonable conditions but may not be unreasonably refused.

        Major renovations come under much more stringent rules – not only related to waterproofing – and will require professional certification and warranties, as well as your agreement to take responsibility for ongoing maintenance.

        Deciding whether your proposed renovations are minor or major is not a decision you can make for yourself. The strata committee and/or strata manager can offer advice but the latter can’t approve changes without reference to the strata committee or the owners’ corporation in a general meeting.

        Requirements for renovation approval (from a building perspective only) include:

        • The proposed structure should be, wherever possible, freestanding, and self-supporting without relying on any existing structure and certified by an engineer as such.
        • Where the above is unattainable, engineering design and certification must be provided for the fixings and the structure.
        • Engineering Certification must be provided for the existing building structure/s being relied upon to support the new structure.
        • Waterproofing Application, certification, guarantee, and warranty must be provided for any element of the new structure and/or its fixings, which penetrate a waterproof membrane.
        • All works must be carried out by qualified and licenced trades. Details of professional insurances must be provided. Installation Certification to Australian Standards and Building Codes are to be provided upon completion.

        All above information should be provided to Strata Manager/Committee to pass onto the Insurer of the Complex so that a record is maintained.

        Finally, renovations in any strata scheme are not an area where it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to seek permission. Undertaking renovations without the appropriate approvals could lead to you having to reinstate common property at your own expense – and nobody wants that.

        DEFINITIONS (extracted from the NSW Strata Schemes Management Act):

        Cosmetic Changes

        The Act says owners may carry out cosmetic work to common property without the approval of the owners corporation, including but not limited to:

        • installing or replacing hooks, nails or screws for hanging paintings and other things on walls,
        • installing or replacing handrails,
        • painting,
        • 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 NSW regulations.

        Minor renovations

        The owner of a lot may carry out minor renovations to common property in their lot with the approval of the owners corporation given by resolution at a general meeting. A special resolution authorising the work is not required if the Strata Committee has been delegated to make these decisions on behalf of the Owners Corporation.

        The approval may be subject to reasonable conditions imposed by the owners corporation and cannot be unreasonably withheld by the owners corporation.

        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,
        • any other work prescribed by NSW laws

        Before obtaining approval, owners must give written notice of proposed minor renovations to the strata committee, including the following—

        • details of the work, including copies of any plans,
        • duration and times of the work,
        • details of the persons carrying out the work, including qualifications to carry out the work and relevant insurances,
        • arrangements to manage any resulting rubbish or debris.

        The owner of a lot must ensure that—

        • any damage caused to any part of the common property is repaired, and
        • the minor renovations and any repairs are carried out in a competent and proper manner.

        Minor renovation rules do NOT apply to:

        • cosmetic work,
        • work involving structural changes,
        • work that changes the external appearance of a lot, including the installation of an external access ramp,
        • work involving waterproofing,
        • work for which consent or another approval is required under any other Act,
        • work that is authorised by a by-law made under this Part or a common property rights by-law,
        • any other work prescribed by NSW regulations.

         

        Work by owners of lots affecting common property

        An owner must not carry out work on the common property unless the owner is authorised to do so—

        • under a by-law made under this Part or a common property rights by-law, or
        • by an approval of the owners corporation given by special resolution or in any other manner authorised by the by-laws.

         

         

        The opinions offered in these Forum posts and replies are not intended to be taken as legal advice. Readers with serious issues should consult experienced strata lawyers.
        • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 2 days ago by .
        #72731
        kaindub
        Flatchatter

          Jimmy

          I’m going to frame your post.

          Its the best explanation of renovations in strata I have ever seen

          Thanks

          #72735
          Jimmy-T
          Keymaster

            Praise indeed.  Hold the framer – I just tidied up a few minor elements.

            The opinions offered in these Forum posts and replies are not intended to be taken as legal advice. Readers with serious issues should consult experienced strata lawyers.
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