What is Strata title? Should You Renovate Strata Apartments?
Strata title is a form of ownership devised for multi-level apartment blocks and horizontal subdivisions with shared areas. The 'strata' part of the term refers to apartments being on different levels, or "strata".
If you feel like your home is in need of a fresh new look, you might be considering making some renovations in your apartment. However, if you’re living in a strata title lot, you need to be extra careful before making any major changes. There are some special rules that surround strata lots, which means that not every change is welcomed by the Owners Corporation. It might seem like a hassle, but if you know what to look out for, your renovations can be approved and underway before you know it.
1. Common and individual property differences
When it comes to renovating a strata title, there are some key things to note regarding certain areas within it. For one, you can’t treat every part of the space as if it were your own to change. The individual part of the lot is free game. It belongs to you and you can choose whatever kind of renovation you want. However, the common property is under the supervision of the Owners Corporation.
Individual property includes things like internal doors, cabinets, and wall coverings, which means you can modify them without issue. On the other hand, you have walls, balcony doors, windows, certain light fixtures, and similar things that can’t be significantly altered without permission from the Owners Corporation. Don't go into a renovation project without reading into what fully belongs to you.
2. Know what strata title by-laws to look out for
While you do own your part of the apartment, that doesn't give you free rein to make changes with complete disregard to your surroundings. You also have neighbours that wouldn’t appreciate any kind of disruptions. For example, installing a type of floorboard that is particularly noisy won’t go well with the lot owners below your apartment.
This is why by-laws exist. They govern certain parts of living in a strata title, especially regarding things that will affect the whole building. They are usually drawn up by the Owners Corporation and the rules aren’t at all inflexible. It’s possible to negotiate things like organizing parties, noise complaints, and renovation details that might come under dispute.
When you decide to renovate, consult the by-laws and your owners corporation to see what changes might be worthy of discussion.
3. Prepare ahead of time
You have to plan for renovations a bit further than you usually might outside of a strata scheme. Contacting the Owners Corporation might take a few days and any issues that they have with the renovation might delay your plans.
Before you call the necessary renovators and obtain the materials you need for the DYI work, you should make sure you sent your request to the Owners Corporation and informed your neighbors about the noise that is inevitable from the renovation.
Give it a good seven to ten days before you get to work on the actual renovations. If you want to be particularly safe, two weeks would be just enough time to solve anything before your scheduled renovation.
4. Deal with disputes the right way
The rules might be clear cut, but it’s never that simple when you’re dealing with neighbours and bureaucracy. On occasion, you might have complaints regarding the changes you’ve made and they might be reviewed by the Owners Corporation.
Neighbours and other lot owners might start a dispute over renovations that they feel are breaking the rules of the strata building. Disputes are handled by the Owners Corporation and committees which are made up of lot owners. Unfortunately for you, they might not always handle the case with an unbiased view.
When you find yourself in a dispute and it seems like the corporation is overexerting its influence, you should seek help. If you know that you’ve been following the rules, you should consult strata legal experts like Eling Strata Management to help you resolve the disputes and exercise your right to renovate your home.
5. Communicate with renovators
Not all renovations are appropriate for DIY work. Sometimes, you need the help of renovation experts to get things done. This is especially true for renovations like flooring installations and door replacements. Keep in mind that renovators probably aren’t aware of the rules surrounding your strata title. Because of this, it would be wise to inform them ahead of time.
There are far too many rules for you to burden the renovators before they get to work. Instead, you can spend some time there while they’re at work and supervise the renovations as they proceed.
A lot of people that live in strata titles find themselves in unnecessary disputes because they might not be aware of what they can and can’t do within your apartment. Informing yourself of the rules beforehand is the single most important piece of preparation you can do before you start renovating. Follow some of these pointers and your home renovations will finish without issue.