Common Property and Renovation Definitions
Definitions of Common property and what renovations require approval
What is common property
- the floor, ie concrete slab, or wooden floor that existed at the time the building was strataed, also tiles. Stairs are also considered a floor for purposes of the Act. The Owner owns carpet and lino as these are nailed down, and glued – hence are considered to be in the airspace of the lot. If an owner wishes to lay a wooden floor, a bylaw will be required, as it will be affixed around the sides to the common walls. A requirement will also be to ensure compliance with the Australian standards, and Building Code of Australia in respect to noise.
- The ceiling also is common property, the “fabric – ie conrete or plaster, vermiculiate, but not the paint, paint is considered within the air space of the lot.
- Wiring and pipes within the lot are the individual owners, where they only service that lot. If the pipe travels up to another unit, then it is common property. If a service, eg a toilet is being moved from the current place to another in the bathroom, a bylaw will be needed for this, as pipes will need to be changed, ie hwo the water comes in and flushes away.
- The handset of an intercom and a toilet cistern if attached to a common wall belongs to the Owners Corporation to replace.
- The front unit door belongs to the Owners Corporation, and cannot be replaced without a bylaw.
- Windows are common property as they are part of the boundary of the lot, ie if the window wasn’t there the wall (bricks) would be. It does not matter what the boundary is made of, it is not relevant under the Act.
- Removal of walls in a lot, or the installation, as they are affixed to common property, ie floor and ceiling, and also if they are load bearing, the Owners Corporation will at least require a certificate from an Engineer to say the removal will not compromise the structural integrity of the building.
- Installation of gas requires the Owners Corporation’s approval. A bylaw is required, as the pipes and meter will be on the common property.
The Act provides that an Owner can install a screen door or bars, providing they are in keeping with the rest of the building. This should be submitted in writing to the Executive with a design and they can approve the installation under bylaw 5. Providing it is in keeping, the Executive may not agree to approve the installation, however the removal of same is the owners responsibility when the Owners Corporation are painting or otherwise maintaining the building.
The above items, numbered, are items that are common property, and a bylaw is generally required if such work is to be undertaken, so if in doubt apply to your managing agent.
If you are, for instance, renovating your kitchen, ie not changing the plumbing, but just replacing the cupboards, then approval is not required, but a notice as to the contractors coming and goings, ie dates of work, should be put up in the common area, preferably on the notice board, with your name and phone number, so if there are any issues with the tradesmen/work, people know who to ring, and don’t call our office!!
If the water supply is to be shut off to do work, a notice needs to be put up in the common areas AT LEAST 24 HOURS BEFOREHAND, so people are aware and can work around it. The notice needs to cover which unit is shutting it off, the time it will occur, and how long it is expected to be for. Bear in mind that if there is a communal hot water system in the building, these may need shutting down, to ensure they don’t try to heat water, when there is no water in them, burning out the system.