Lot owners from NSW are wondering about the correct process for strata approval for renovations. Leanne Habib, Premium Strata provides the following response.
Question: Do I need strata approval for the renovations of my bathroom if I am simply replacing like for like and retiling over the existing floor tiles? Is this work considered a minor cosmetic renovation?
I am about to update my bathroom and need to be clear whether or not I need to make my intentions known to the owners corporation.
I will be replacing old with new; vanity, shower screen and toilet, plus retiling the floor over top of the existing tiles. There are no intended alterations to plumbing or waterproofing.
Is this work considered a minor cosmetic renovation?
Answer: It seems unlikely that your works could be carried out without any impact whatsoever on the existing waterproofing.
While it is correct that the installation of hard floors is a minor renovation, it seems unlikely that your works could be carried out without any impact whatsoever on the existing waterproofing or that no additional membrane/waterproofing will be required.
This post appears in Strata News #295.
Question: I’m concerned about the correct process of strata approval for renovations in our scheme. Renovations involving waterproofing isn’t being considered a major work under the new legislation, and therefore not being considered by the Owners Corporation as a special resolution.
I’m a member of a Strata Committee in an apartment complex which was registered prior to 1 July 1974. Being a ‘mature’ building, some of the more recent owners wish to improve their investment by having the laundry, kitchen, bathroom or floor coverings changed. That is understandable and it’s great to see improvements happening.
However, my concern is the way in which these proposed scope of works are being formally addressed. I will give you an actual example:
An Owner has sought to do renovation works as listed above. For the kitchen, in his Special By-Law he has stated the following:
Renovation of the kitchen of the Authorised Lot including:
- Removal and installation of cabinet with laminated bench tops; and
- Removal and installation of wall tiles including waterproofing works.
The Strata Manager has decided to place the entirety of the kitchen renovation as being ‘minor works’ and therefore the Owners Corporation are instructed in the ballot paper to consider it as an ‘ordinary resolution’ ie: 50% approval.
I raised my concern that this is incorrect pursuant to the new changes in the Strata Schemes Management Act (NSW) 2015. My concern is that item (b) namely waterproofing is considered a major work under the new legislation and therefore this particular item (b) should be a ‘stand-alone’ item and the strata approval for renovations should be considered by the Owners Corporation as a special resolution. In other words, item (a) of the Kitchen Renovation being considered as Ordinary Resolution whilst item (b) as a Special Resolution. Alternatively, perhaps, have both items (A and B) consolidated as a Special Resolution.
My suggestion to the Strata Manager about the process of strata approval for renovations has been ignored. Likewise by the other members of the Strata Committee.
I seek your interpretation of how this particular proposal for Kitchen Renovation ought to have been prepared for the Owners Corporation to vote on.
Since my suggestion is ignored and the Owners Corporation are about to vote on it with only 48-hour turn around, is it possible that an action can be taken to have this resolution deemed void assuming that my suggestion is correct? If so, what is the procedure to be taken?
Answer: Your interpretation is correct.
Your interpretation is correct. Any work which involves waterproofing necessitates the creation of a by-law irrespective of the fact that a kitchen renovation is designated a “minor renovation”. You have understood correctly that while a kitchen renovation is indeed a minor renovation if such a renovation also includes waterproofing works then the works need to be approved by way of a special resolution (by-law). Section 110(7)(d) SSMA 2015 clearly states that the section does NOT apply (ie categorising a kitchen a minor renovation) where the proposed works involve waterproofing.
We also agree with your approach that both sets of works ie cabinetry and waterproofing be detailed in one and the same by-law (rather than passing some works by ordinary resolution and others by special resolution).
Despite all of the above, however, we are not aware that a kitchen is a “wet area” within the meaning of the Building Code of Australia for the requirement for waterproofing.
This post appears in Strata News #185.
Question: We are looking to renovate our bathroom, toilet and laundry in the single story townhouse we purchased last year. The renovation includes installing a waterproof membrane. What is the strata approval for renovations process and what approvals do we need from the owners corporation?
We are looking to renovate our bathroom, toilet and laundry in the single story townhouse we purchased last year. The renovation includes installing a waterproof membrane. What approvals do we need from the owners corporation?
The job will consist of:-
- Membrane wet areas:
- Installing a waterproof membrane in wet areas (done by a qualified wet area tradesperson)
- Replacement of tiles (Floor and shower and walls around bath). Replacement of shower door from slider to bi-fold
- Replacement of shower head only (Not pipework) Replacement of vanity unit
- Replacement of tiles (Floor) Replacement of toilet
- Replacement of tiles only (not the wash sink). All replacement items are new.
There will be no movement or adding of new pipework, only direct replacement of taps, toilet and vanity with no effect on pipework.
No electrics affected except baton light replacement.
The debris will be disposed of ourselves at the tip.
We wish to start as soon as viable after receiving the strata owners decision and will be doing all the renovations ourselves, apart from installing a waterproof membrane.
Is this something the strata body would be ok with? What is the strata approval for renovations process and how do we get started?
Answer: We cannot predict the outcome of your application, however, you must submit a by-law for approval by the Owners Corporation in general meeting by special resolution.
We cannot predict the outcome of your application, however, to start the strata approval for renovations process, you must submit a by-law for approval by the Owners Corporation in general meeting by special resolution.
A by-law is necessitated because you are doing waterproofing works (which places your scope outside the ambit of minor renovations or cosmetic works).
Usually, an Owners Corporation would not object to such works provided you use a strata specialist solicitor to draft your by-law. Such by-law must then be registered on the certificate of title for the common property before you can commence works.
We can direct you to specialist strata lawyers who can assist in drafting the required by law.
This post appears in Strata News #177.
Question: Strata approval for renovations – Do I need to get our strata or Owners Corporation approval for installing a sliding door between our dining room and kitchen in our apartment?
Am I install a removable sliding door for the dining room which is linked with the kitchen? The sliding door will prevent the smell from escaping to the other rooms.
Do I need to get our strata approval for installing a sliding door?
Answer: Technically speaking you do not need strata approval for installing a sliding door because it seems to fall within the definition of “cosmetic work”.
Technically speaking you do not need strata approval for installing a sliding door because it seems to fall within the definition of “cosmetic work” under Section 109 of the SSMA 2015:
109 Cosmetic work by owners
- The owner of a lot in a strata scheme may carry out cosmetic work to common property in connection with the owner’s lot without the approval of the owners corporation.
- “Cosmetic work” includes but is not limited to work for the following purposes:
- installing or replacing hooks, nails or screws for hanging paintings and other things on walls,
Because the definition is inclusive, your sliding doors could be construed as hanging “other things on walls” ie a sliding door.
Despite our view, we always recommend approaching your own strata manager first, because owners corporations generally appreciate the courtesy of being asked (rather than a resident hearing banging and drilling and notifying the strata manager which might get them offside).
This post appears in Strata News #164.
Question: We wish to renovate our strata unit in Sydney. What are the steps involved to obtain strata approval for renovations?
We wish to renovate our strata unit in Sydney, including relocating the kitchen, open a wall and use some area of the courtyard which forms part of the lot, add ducted air conditioning through the roof space.
Architectural plans are being drawn up for approval at an AGM.
- Please advise if we should place an exclusive use by law on the AGM agenda covering all aspects of the works which impact the common property.
- Is this single motion to approve a bylaw sufficient or do we need additional motions to gain strata approval for renovations?
- Can we download a sample bylaw which could be amended for the above?
Answer: Yes, you should have a lawyer prepare a common property rights by-law for inclusion in an agenda of the Owners Corporation.
- The correct terminology post the new legislation is that you need a “common property rights by-law”. But, yes, you should have a lawyer prepare such a by-law for inclusion in an agenda of the Owners Corporation.
- You will need a Section 108 motion for the improvements etc. Your lawyer will automatically include this motion.
- Some standard by-laws may be purchased online through various websites. However, we always recommend that you use a strata lawyer to bespoke draft for your exact works and ensure the intent of the bylaw is properly covered.
Question: During the process of strata approval for renovations are there circumstances where you may be exempt from registering strata bylaws?
I live in a complex in NSW. In our complex, there are a few apartments that were originally divided into two apartments by the developer. We questioned this with council many years ago and were advised that these apartments were permitted to do this.
One of the divided apartments was purchased by a new owner, who subsequently became chairman. The owner advised the board that council had ordered him to convert the apartment back into one apartment. The board never questioned the owner and did not request the demand letter from the council.
The owner has now gutted each floor, moved bathrooms and kitchen and laundry and added ducted air-conditioning. I have contacted the local council, who has advised that a privacy request needs to be made to view the alleged letter.
If such a demand was made, should the Executive Committee have requested a copy of the demand letter and also if there was a demand does that override NSW Strata rules which require owners, when seeking strata approval for renovations, to notify the Owners Corporation of any changes to plumbing, re-instating a staircase within the lot, adding ducted aircon?
Do we have a right to obtain a copy of the letter from the council?
Answer: It is possible that there is a by-law governing the consolidation of the divided apartments.
While we haven’t seen a copy of the by-laws applicable to the scheme, it is possible that there is a by-law governing the consolidation of the divided apartments.
If there is not, the Chairperson would have required a by-law for damage to the common property irrespective of any alleged Council directive to consolidate the lot. Even if the Council did in fact issue such a letter/demand, that does not excuse the Chairperson from the requirement to have a by-law registered for his works.
You should be able to inspect any documents at Council under a Freedom of Information Act 1982 application.
This post appears in Strata News #106.
Have a question or something to add to the article? Leave a comment below.
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This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.