The three types of renovation according to NSW strata laws

 

Renovations in NSW can be classified into three categories, cosmetic, minor and major. Each of these renovation types have a different approval process. When planning to renovate your property within a strata scheme it is important to consider what type of work you will be doing.

Cosmetic renovations

The owner of a lot may carry out cosmetic work without approval of the owners corporation. Cosmetic work includes painting, laying carpet or installing or replacing hand rails. Take note that the owner doing the cosmetic work is responsible for any damage to common property as a result
of the renovations.

The legislation prescribes that cosmetic works do not include:

  • Minor renovations
  • Structural changes
  • Changes to the appearance of a lot
  • Works affecting the safety of a lot, including fire safety systems
  • Waterproofing or plumbing or exhaust system of a building
  • Reconfiguring of walls
  • Works requiring consent or approval under any other Act
  • Works required by the by-laws.

Minor renovations

Approval from the owners corporations is required for minor renovations. These include changing recessed light fittings; replacing or changing wiring, cabling or power or access points; and installing a heat pump. The owners corporation is allowed to impose reasonable conditions on the approval of such works. The owners corporation may wish to pass obligation of maintenance for such works to the owner. A by-law is advised for this.

  • The legislation prescribes that minor works do not include:
  • Cosmetic works that are defined in the legislation
  • Structural changes
  • Changes to the appearance of a lot, including an external ramp
  • Works affecting the safety of a lot, including fire safety systems
  • Waterproofing or plumbing or exhaust system of a building
  • Works requiring consent or approval under any other Act
  • Work that is authorised by a by-law or a common property rights by-law.

Major renovations*

First, the work needs a special resolution vote before it can move ahead. Next, the owner must give the owners corporation written notice at least 14 days before the work starts. This should describe the proposed alteration. The owners corporation cannot delegate approval for major renovations to the strata committee (unlike for minor renovations).

Major renovations include:

  • structural changes
  • waterproofing
  • changes affecting the outside appearance of the property, such as an access ramp
  • work that needs approval under other laws (for example, council approval).

 

To determine the most appropriate course of action for your planned renovation check with the strata manager.

For an up to date information on NSW strata legislation, download a copy of PICA Group’s Essential Guide to NSW Strata Legislation.

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*Source: www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au