There are numerous factors to consider when renovating within a strata building, as opposed to a private property or house. A strata building in a residential area can be a unit or apartment complex, townhouse, villa or duplex.
Before making any renovations to the structure of a building, including the walls, ceilings, balconies, pipes, ducts and services, it is crucial you consult with the strata about these changes. These alterations won’t only affect you, but those that live around you.
Changes to floor coverings
Many multi-storey or high-rise buildings have strata conditions or by-laws in place to control the acoustic properties of how the floor can be used, the thickness of the flooring and issues surrounding the acoustic insulation and noise transmission. To avoid any issues, its important to consult with the strata and get your flooring choice cleared before construction – it’s also the neighbourly thing to do.
Differences on the outside
We all desire to make changes to make our home more aesthetically and functionally pleasing. However, you need to consider how changes to your unit and property will look from the outside and might affect others. Simple changes such as installing private screenings or shutters on windows for heat insulation or privacy need to be considered from a strata perspective.
Do you need approval before making changes to a strata building?
So you don’t fall into any legal perils, its important that you get a copy of your building’s by-laws and review them to find out whether your renovations need to be altered or can be passed.
Documentation is important
When completing any renovation it is best to keep a copy of all documentation and receipts for future need. Keeping a copy of council approvals and/or certifications is necessary for strata, as they will want to see them before any construction takes place. Don’t wait until the last moment to get these – plan in advance!
Access to noise and rubbish removal
It’s necessary for your tradesmen to have access to a good work area and dispose of waste easily. Unlike on a single dwelling, having portable toilets, skip bins and allowing tradesmen to work on the front and back yard isn’t so easy in a strata building. Due to the space, structure and surrounding people, there is a different level of complexity.
Maintaining and controlling rubbish removal can be especially difficult. How do I get permission for a skip bin? Where do I put it? How does it not block the driveway? These questions arise frequently, but there are a few solutions to help with the problem. Thankfully, fabric skip bins are now available that can be craned over a verandah or stored in the garage. Tradesmen can arrange access. For large renovations, a demolition shoot will need to be planned from the window/verandah of the complex, which dumps the debris in the skip. Approval needs to be sourced as the process involves, not only the shoot, but also the permission of the person whose land is used to place the skip.
Noise during construction can be annoying for some residents. But if you are respectful and working within your limits then you are starting from a good position. It’s important to check state laws regarding noise control in an urban or residential area. More specifically, check what applies to your specific building. This will let you make sure the construction occurs during a certain time and that online power tools are permitted. Hopefully then you can enjoy your renovations and not worry about being the noisy neighbour.
Tradesmen are people too and need access to a toilet onsite. It’s your job to find out where the nearest toilet is for them and gain approval for a portable one if needed.
Working areas for trades
When renovating a building in a strata environment, tradesmen don’t often get the luxury of working on a driveway or front yard, which can be difficult when it comes to the preparation of the renovation. You need to consider that a work area needs to be created and that you might not only be vacating the renovation area but an adjacent one as a work area.
All that cutting, sawing and grinding inside will create a cacophony of a mess, but it’s fairly unavoidable. You need to weigh up the choices. Would you rather a tradesman walking to and from a building to grab materials outside (taking up a lot of time) as opposed to one big construction clean up at the end of the renovation.
Naomi Findlay is one of our resident experts, principal of Silk Home and founder of the International Institute of Home Staging. Want to be a home stager? Attend the 2016 Home Staging Symposium in Sydney this June!