Making internal changes to your unit

Renovations

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Australians love to renovate. Whether you’re in a free-standing house, where the possibilities seem endless, or navigating the nuances of living within a body corporate community, the desire to personalise and enhance our homes is there.

This article covers internal renovations to a townhouse or apartment and what you can and can’t do without body corporate approval.

Cosmetic changes and decorating

Generally speaking, when it comes to decorating, cosmetic changes, or updating existing fixtures, fittings, and appliances inside your townhouse or apartment, body corporate approval is not required.

You should however, always read your by-laws before starting any project. The contents and advice in this article are of a general nature only.

These include renovations like:

  • Painting interior walls
  • Updating existing light fixtures without moving the electrical
  • Replacing taps, shower fixtures, or handles
  • Updating existing appliances like a dishwasher, cooktop, oven
  • Replacing a vanity without moving the existing plumbing
  • Updating a splashback or benchtop

Flooring

While flooring may seem like a low-risk update, in multi-story apartment buildings, one person’s floor is often the next person’s ceiling and changes can have a noise impact on the apartment below. These buildings typically implement flooring by-laws to ensure any changes from carpet to tiles, wood or laminate adhere to specific sound rating standards.

Townhouses or free-standing homes are less likely to have a flooring by-law, but you should still check your own in detail. If there is no flooring or acoustic by-law, interior flooring changes generally do not require approval.

Flooring changes to an external area like a balcony or entrance porch can often be seen by other lots and will often require body corporate approval. 

Kitchens and bathrooms

Revamping kitchens and bathrooms can range from a modest update of handles and fixtures to a transformation of the entire space, including its layout.

If the renovation is simply an update of existing appliances, fixtures, or cabinetry – without changes to the electrical or plumbing configurations, body corporate approval is generally not required.

The body corporate may however regulate the noise levels, notice periods, parking, rubbish removal and other work associated with a renovation, even if the actual renovation does not require specific approval.

If you intend to relocate appliances, electrical, and/or plumbing, body corporate approval is generally required.

Structural changes

Making internal structural changes, like adding or removing a wall, requires body corporate approval.

This type of change usually also requires engineering advice, building approval, and other external consultant advice to satisfy the body corporate that the structure of the building will not be adversely impacted

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