Do I need permission to renovate my apartment?

The latest strata research from the City Futures Research Centre at UNSW Sydney shows that 7% of Queenslanders now live in apartments.

With the value of apartment renovations in the first quarter of 2019 coming in at $2 million (source: Australian Bureau of Statistics), Queenslanders are now seeking newer and more modern apartments for themselves and their tenants.

Before you think about renovating your apartment, there are some things you should consider to ensure you are meeting your legal obligations.

While the Body Corporate and Community Management Act stipulates that owners can make improvements to areas that fall under their responsibility, most apartments have ‘by-laws’ relating to the alterations of a property, and require a written request to the Body Corporate for project approval.

Here are a few helpful tips for you to consider before you seek approval or commence a renovation.

Will your proposed changes affect common property?

Common property areas are not only limited to common-use areas, such as the building foyer, elevators and corridors. They can also include structural factors, such as adjoining walls, found in kitchens, laundries, and bathrooms.

Check the structural walls of your apartment, particularly if your renovation involves internal walls. If your property is located on the lower levels of a multi-storey building, you are unlikely to be able to touch internal walls, as they are often load bearing and can cause serious structural damage to the apartments above as well as the integrity of the building.

To properly plan your renovation, you should obtain trustworthy advice on where your apartment’s property ends and where the common property begins. If possible, request the current building plans of your building.

What limitations do I need to understand?

Confirm with your Body Corporate what you can and cannot change based on their by-laws. Some restrictions can include the type of blinds or shutters used (to ensure external uniformity), the number and type of items you can have on your balcony, and air conditioning installations.

Internal limitations may also be in place, such as flooring work due to noise transference to neighbouring apartments. In these instances, acoustic sound proofing may be required to be installed for approval to be granted.

What might I be liable for?

If you fail to abide by your building’s restrictions or the decisions of your Body Corporate when it comes to your apartment renovation, you may be legally required to restore your apartment to its original state and pay for any costs involved.

Additionally, you may be responsible for any repairs or damage sustained to common property areas, caused by you or your contractors.

How do I get approval for my apartment renovation?

Apartment renovations are generally disruptive, so having your Body Corporate and neighbours on side will make a positive difference to the approval of your renovation.

Make sure your ‘scope of works’ adheres to your building’s by-laws, and you have considered how the project may impact other apartment residents. Always ensure any approval granted is communicated in writing.

Some ways in which other residents can be affected by your renovations can include:

  • Parking and access for your contractors – Will they be using visitor parking?
  • Rubbish removal – Will they need to use the lift extensively during peak hours or when people are trying to get to and from work?
  • Will the noise from the construction and decorating work cause inconvenience to others?
  • How will the smells from paint, glue, and other chemicals impact other residents in the building?

When it comes to apartment renovations, the general rule of thumb is that it far cheaper and easier to gain permission first!

Do you need the services of a professional to help with your apartment renovation?  

Call the friendly team at CMBM Building Services today. We can assist you with planning your apartment renovation in line with your building’s by-laws, ensuring you have the best chance of getting your renovation approved and carried out with minimum fuss and disruption to your apartment building.   

Apartment renovations | CMBM Building Services

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