Renovation Without Strata Approval: Is it Possible?

February 13, 2024
Renovate Without Strata Approval?

Key takeaways:

  • Strata approval is essential for major and some minor renovations in strata-titled properties, ensuring renovations comply with community guidelines and maintain structural integrity.
  • Renovations are classified into three types – cosmetic, minor, and major – with approval requirements varying based on the renovation’s impact on the property.
  • Undertaking renovations without strata approval can lead to significant legal and financial consequences, including the possibility of reversing unauthorized changes.
  • A clear understanding of your strata scheme’s bylaws and effective communication with the strata committee is crucial for a smooth renovation approval process.

When it comes to renovating your strata property, whether it’s a cozy townhouse or a sleek apartment, understanding the ins and outs of strata approval is crucial. Many property owners embark on the journey of renovating their homes to add value, enhance livability, or simply bring a fresh look.

However, when your property falls under a strata scheme, there are additional layers of approval and regulation to consider. In this post, we’ll navigate the complexities of undertaking renovations without strata approval, helping you understand what’s permissible and what could land you in hot water.

Here are the key points we’ll cover:

Strata ApprovalNecessary for certain types of property renovations
Types of RenovationsCosmetic, Minor, Major
Approval ProcessVaries based on renovation type
Legal ImplicationsConsequences of unapproved renovations

What is Strata Approval?

Renovate Without Strata Approval?

Strata approval is formal permission from your strata committee or owners’ corporation required for certain types of renovations in strata-titled properties.

This approval ensures that your renovation plans align with the community’s guidelines, maintaining the structural integrity and aesthetic of the strata complex.

Types of Properties under Strata Management Strata schemes usually encompass a range of property types, including:

  • Townhouses
  • Apartment blocks
  • Villas
  • Units with shared spaces like gardens and pools

Types of Renovations and Required Approvals

Cosmetic Changes

Generally, these are minor alterations that don’t impact the property’s structure or external appearance. Examples include painting internal walls, installing handrails, and replacing fixtures like doorknobs or taps. These changes often do not require strata approval.

Minor Renovations

More significant than cosmetic changes, minor renovations might include installing a new air conditioner or reconfiguring internal walls. These renovations usually require approval from the strata corporation.

If you’re considering a project like renovating a small kitchen, it’s essential to understand whether it falls under minor or major renovations for strata approval purposes.

Major Renovations

These are substantial alterations that can affect the building’s structural integrity, such as removing load-bearing walls or altering plumbing systems. Major renovations always require strata approval, often needing a special resolution vote at a general meeting.

For larger projects, such as a complete overhaul of a kitchen, it’s useful to know how long it takes to renovate a kitchen, as this will impact the duration your proposal will be under review by the strata committee.

The Approval Process for Strata Renovations

Renovate Without Strata Approval?

Renovating within a strata scheme isn’t as simple as picking up a hammer and nails – it involves careful planning and, most importantly, getting the right approvals. Here’s a step-by-step guide to navigating the strata approval process, based on insights from Strata Data and Bannermans Lawyers:

Step 1: Understand Your Strata Scheme’s Bylaws:

Each strata scheme has its unique set of bylaws that dictate the types of renovations requiring approval. It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with these rules to determine if your planned renovation needs strata approval.

Step 2: Classify Your Renovation Type:

As discussed earlier, renovations fall into three categories – cosmetic, minor, and major. Identifying which category your renovation falls under will help you understand the level of approval needed.

Step 3: Prepare a Detailed Renovation Proposal:

This should include architectural plans, drawings, and technical specifications. Be as detailed as possible to give the strata committee a clear understanding of your project.

Step 4: Submit the Proposal to the Strata Corporation:

The proposal needs to be submitted for decision at a General Meeting. It’s advisable to do this at the Annual General Meeting, but if urgent, you may call an Extraordinary General Meeting for a specific decision.

Strata Committee Review and Decision: The strata committee will review your proposal, possibly asking questions or requesting further information. They will then put it to a vote.

Await Approval and Adhere to Conditions: If your renovation is approved, ensure you comply with any conditions set by the strata corporation to avoid future disputes.

Step 5: Inform and Cooperate with Neighbors:

Since renovations can impact other residents, it’s courteous and often required to inform your neighbors about your plans, especially if the work will be noisy or disruptive.

Additional Considerations:

  • Hire Qualified Contractors: Ensure that the tradespeople you hire are licensed and insured. This is not only a strata requirement but also important for the safety and quality of the work.
  • Post-Approval Steps: Once the renovation is complete, inform the strata committee and provide any necessary documentation, such as compliance certificates or final inspection reports.

Costs and Legal Considerations of Renovating Without Strata Approval

Renovate Without Strata Approval?

Embarking on a renovation project without strata approval can lead to significant financial and legal ramifications. It’s essential to understand these aspects before proceeding with any renovation work in a strata scheme. Insights from Lookup Strata and SBS Australia provide valuable guidance on this topic.

Financial Implications Table

Renovation TypePotential Cost
Cosmetic ChangesMinimal to None
Minor RenovationsVaries; Approval Costs May Apply
Major RenovationsSignificant; Includes Approval Costs, Legal Fees, and Potential Fines

Legal Ramifications

  1. Unapproved Renovations: Undertaking renovations without the necessary strata approval can lead to legal disputes with the strata committee or other residents. This could result in being compelled to reverse the changes at your own expense.
  2. Non-Compliance with Bylaws: If renovations breach the strata scheme’s bylaws, it can lead to legal action, fines, and potential conflict within the community.
  3. Structural Integrity and Safety: Major renovations, especially those affecting the building’s structure, require strict adherence to building codes and safety standards. Non-compliance can lead to safety hazards and legal liabilities.
  4. Impact on Insurance: Unauthorized renovations can impact the building’s insurance policy, potentially leading to claims being denied or increased premiums for the entire strata.
  5. Dispute Resolution: In cases of disputes arising from unapproved renovations, resolution might involve mediation or legal proceedings through avenues like the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal.

Mitigating Legal Risks

  • Seek Legal Advice: Before undertaking significant renovations, it’s advisable to consult with a legal expert in strata law.
  • Communicate with Strata Committee: Open communication can help resolve misunderstandings and provide a pathway to obtaining approval.
  • Adhere to Bylaws: Understanding and following your strata scheme’s bylaws is the best way to avoid legal issues.

It’s clear that while renovating a strata property can add value and functionality, it comes with a set of responsibilities and legalities that cannot be ignored. Taking the right steps to ensure compliance with strata rules and regulations is crucial for a smooth and successful renovation project.

Case Study: Strata Approval Costs for Renovation

In this real-life scenario sourced from a Reddit discussion, we explore the costs and processes involved in gaining strata approval for significant renovations.


A Reddit user planned substantial renovations in their apartment, including complete renovations of two bathrooms, a kitchen, and flooring changes. They submitted their plans to the strata for approval.

Strata’s Response

The strata committee quoted $1,560 for the approval process. This cost was for the creation and registration of a bylaw, a necessary step for major renovations like bathroom waterproofing in New South Wales (NSW), as it requires a vote of the Owners Corporation at a General Meeting.

Community Feedback

  • Bylaw Costs: It was noted that the cost includes fees for a lawyer to draft and register the bylaw. For simpler renovations, like a single bathroom, cheaper DIY bylaws might be an option.
  • Self-Preparation: The user mentioned they supplied their own bylaw, prepared by Bannermans Lawyers, to avoid any potential complications from the strata committee’s involvement.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand the Bylaws: Knowing your strata scheme’s bylaws can help anticipate the costs and requirements for renovation approvals.
  • Professional Assistance: Seeking professional help, like lawyers specializing in strata law, can provide clarity and potentially reduce costs.
  • Communication with Strata Committee: Clear and early communication with the strata committee can streamline the approval process.

This case study highlights the importance of understanding the intricacies of strata bylaws and the associated costs of strata approval for renovations. Being prepared and informed can make the difference between a smooth approval process and potential legal and financial hurdles.

Suggested reading: If you’re enjoying this content, you’ll surely appreciate our definitive guide on home renovation. It’s a must-read!

FAQ Section on “Renovations Without Strata Approval”

What happens if you do renovations without strata approval?

Answer: Undertaking major renovations without obtaining strata approval may necessitate reversing the changes at your own cost. Additionally, if you proceed without this approval, you could face legal and financial consequences.

Do I need strata approval to replace a toilet?

Answer: Strata approval is required for relocating any plumbing services. This includes replacing a toilet, as it involves altering the plumbing within the property.

Do you need strata approval to mount a TV?

Answer: Yes, strata approval is necessary for mounting a TV. This is because such an action could affect the building’s structural integrity and noise insulation.

Do you need council approval for renovations in NSW?

Answer: Council approval is typically required for external renovations. The necessity of this approval depends on the extent and nature of the renovations, as well as the specific regulations of the local council.

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