Six handy tips for a kitchen renovation in a strata property
Here’s how to modernise your kitchen and increase its spaciousness, functionality and storage solutions through just one well-planned kitchen renovation — while ensuring it is strata compliant
Often referred to as the “heart of the home”, the kitchen is among the most frequently used rooms. That is why kitchen renovations should not be taken lightly, especially in a strata property.
Apart from replacing appliances, a well-built kitchen will likely only need renovations every twenty years or so. It is essential to plan before starting any kind of home improvement. Before you start, we recommend considering how you can influence the room’s spaciousness and flow and deciding which storage features you can integrate through a kitchen renovation.
Firstly, list things you currently don’t like about your kitchen and work with a kitchen design professional to find solutions to each problem during the design phase.
Obtaining strata committee approval before starting your kitchen renovation is crucial. Your project may classify as a minor renovation depending on the scope of work you are planning,
In NSW, you may need a by-law or building rule passed before your kitchen renovation is underway. If so, you should approach a NSW specific strata lawyer such as Kemps Petersons Legal to ensure the new by-laws or building rules are watertight. The by-laws or building rules will likely cover the following:
- The days and periods during which you conduct the renovation work.
- The level of responsibility the lot owner has in covering damage to common property or other lots.
For QLD, the Body Corporate and Community Management Act does not require an owner to pass a by-law or building rule for renovations. Improvements made on individual lots are generally not restricted and are the owner’s responsibility. However, there may be additional requirements under your community’s by-laws that you should consider:
- Individual by-laws may vary across schemes, with many schemes in QLD having similar body corporate by-laws requiring approval before making alterations to the lot. Before commencing, it is good practice to notify the committee and contact the building manager to ensure you adhere to the current by-laws before commencing.
Similarly, renovations made in VIC also do not require the owner to pass any additional by-laws or building rules. Although lot owners are entitled to make alterations to the lot, it is essential to understand the specific responsibilities and requirements needed before starting internal or external renovations:
- For internal renovations, lot owners are required to notify the owners corporation if the remodelling requires a building or planning permit.
- For external renovations, owners are to ensure the lot’s exterior is in good and serviceable repair and that the appearance does not impact the satisfaction of fellow owners in the property.
When living in a strata property, it is important to ensure your kitchen renovation complies with state laws, by-laws or building rules and doesn’t inconvenience your neighbours. Here are a few things you should consider:
- Ensure noise resulting from your renovation only occurs during agreed hours. As a rule of thumb, make sure there is no noise before 8 am and after 5 pm.
- If the tradespeople need to use your strata property’s lift to transport goods or wastes in and out of the building, ensure that this does not damage the lift or inconvenience others living in the building.
- Ensure your strata property and your lot comply with health and safety regulations. Providing your renovation workers with safe working conditions is paramount.
- Ensure compliance with health and safety regulations by tradespeople working on the renovation.
- Ensure all workers have appropriate trade licenses and public liability insurance.
Are you thinking of commencing a kitchen renovation in your strata property? Here are some ideas to consider that may add value to your property while improving its liveability and look:
- Create an open plan kitchen
- Rethink your dining space
- Improve your kitchen’s layout and flow
- Use glass and mirrors for the illusion of a larger space
- Be strategic when choosing your colour pallet and surfaces
- Integrate clever storage
Create an open plan kitchen
If your kitchen renovation is in an older strata property, your kitchen may be enclosed within four walls. While this has its benefits, it does mean the person preparing meals is isolated from the rest of the home and everyone in it.
If you are planning a kitchen renovation in your strata property and your kitchen is located near living or dining spaces, it is worth considering knocking down an internal wall or two to open the kitchen up to adjoining spaces to make your kitchen seem larger and to receive more natural light. It may also allow the person cooking meals to easily interact with others in the adjoining areas while in the kitchen.
Remember, you will likely need to obtain the permission of your strata committee before knocking down any walls, as this may be considered a major renovation. You may also need to have a by-law or building rule created before commencing your kitchen renovation.
We recommend consulting with professionals such as structural engineers and kitchen designers before finalising your plans, to make sure your strata property has the scope for this task and that the walls you intended on knocking down are not load-bearing walls.
Rethink your dining space
If the kitchen renovation in your strata property involves an open-plan kitchen, this clever hack may help you eliminate your dining table.
If you have an extra-long or wide kitchen space, or you’ve knocked down some internal walls to create one, you may be able to integrate a breakfast bar into your new or existing benchtop to allow for seated dining. Another option could be to build a cantilever (i.e. floating) benchtop, which may eliminate the need for a dining table.
Space is at a premium when it comes to apartment living. By eliminating an unnecessary dining table, you could use this newfound extra space as an extension to the living room, a study nook or even a home office space.
Improve your kitchen’s layout and flow
When considering a kitchen renovation in a strata property, approach it by thinking of your kitchen as a workspace.
Is each fitting, fixture and appliance placement optimised for efficiency and ease of use? Can you move your dishes from the sink to the dishwasher quickly? Is there plenty of prep space near the stove to cut your veggies and pop them straight in the wok for a quick weeknight stir-fry? Is your fridge within easy reach of the dedicated food prep space?
We recommend considering the following before starting your kitchen renovation:
- If you’re one of the lucky few with a beautiful view from your home, you can consider changing your kitchen’s orientation to enjoy the scenery.
- Place your sink, stove and refrigerator in a way that forms a triangle, with 1.2m to 2.9m between each item, for optimal efficiency and flow. This concept refers to the “working triangle” in the kitchen design world.
- Place your fridge near your pantry cupboard or food storage areas so that you can place your grocery bags between the two spaces and unpack them easily.
- Consider foot traffic when deciding on your cabinetry, appliances and benchtop placement. Having more than one way to enter or exit your kitchen is ideal.
- Place your dishwasher near the sink. Not only will this make installing the dishwasher and configuring the plumbing easier, but it will also mean you can rinse and place your dishes straight in the dishwasher without dripping water all over the kitchen floor.
- Set up dedicated stations or zones for food prep, cooking and food storage.
- Create storage for utensils and accessories, such as cutting boards and dishes, within the zones where you will use them.
Use glass and mirrors for the illusion of a larger space
It is no secret that glass and mirrored surfaces can create the illusion of a bigger, airier space, no matter how small the room is. Thankfully, there are many opportunities for you to integrate mirrors and glass surfaces when embarking on a kitchen renovation in a strata property. Here are a few ways to do this:
- A glass or mirrored splashback. If you do not like the look of regular mirrored surfaces, opt for a smoked mirror splashback for a touch of chic
- Glass cabinetry doors.
- Large decorative mirrors on walls.
- Bi-fold glass windows and doors open to an adjoining living area may create an open-plan living space.
5. Be strategic when choosing your colour palette and surfaces
Having too many colours, textures and patterns appear in one room may make the space seem cluttered, disorganised and smaller than it really is. We recommend a minimalistic colour palette when embarking on a kitchen renovation in a strata property.
For benchtop surfaces and fixtures, whites and creamy hues tend to be timeless and appealing. If you feel more adventurous when planning your kitchen renovation, you may opt to use a bright or bold colour in the rest of your home to create a sense of flow between spaces.
If you are integrating timber or timber-look surfaces or flooring, you can make the most out of wood grain patterns to transform the look and feel of your home. Horizontal grain can give the impression of a more expansive space, whereas vertical wood grain can elongate height. Don’t forget your strata scheme may prefer acoustic underlays and flooring products, which you may need to adhere to.
Integrate clever storage
While planning a kitchen renovation in a strata property may present opportunities, the most exciting is perhaps the chance to work in storage solutions that could make Marie Kondo beam with joy.
Adding extra storage once the kitchen renovation has commenced is more challenging, so your kitchen renovation plan needs to accommodate your storage needs.
Here are a few of our recommendations. Choosing some of your favourites may go a long way in improving your kitchen’s storage situation:
- Installing overhead cupboards can provide more storage with minimal compromise to the space and layout of your kitchen.
- Some floating overhead shelves for items like souvenirs, homewares and cookbooks that you would like out on display.
- If you like a crisp glass of wine after a long day, consider integrating a wine fridge.
- Hide away a pull-out pantry or bin within the cabinetry.
- Slots for your chopping boards under the benchtop.
- Drawers within your kitchen island for extra storage.
- Floor-to-ceiling cabinetry along one wall.
- Consider integrating your appliances (such as refrigerators, microwaves and dishwashers within your cabinetry for an extra-sleek look.
Don’t forget obtaining strata committee approval before starting your kitchen renovation is crucial. Your project may classify as a major renovation or minor renovation depending on the scope of work you are planning. Therefore, you may need a by-law or building rule passed before your kitchen renovation is underway.When it comes to caring for and protecting your strata property, our facilities management team at BFMS (Sydney only) are the experts for the job. Known for their professionalism and personal service, our team offers everything from expert full and part-time building management to various repairs, maintenance, and management services.
You can also download our FREE Community Living guide series on defects by clicking here. For a consultation to review your current by-laws in NSW, our Kemps Petersons Legal team can assist – click here.