NSW: Q&A Strata approval for renovations – What is the process and how do we start?

Question: I’m concerned about the correct process of strata approval for renovations in our scheme. Renovations involving waterproofing isn’t being considered a major work under the new legislation, and therefore not being considered by the Owners Corporation as a special resolution.

I’m a member of a Strata Committee in an apartment complex which was registered prior to 1 July 1974. Being a ‘mature’ building, some of the more recent owners wish to improve their investment by having the laundry, kitchen, bathroom or floor coverings changed. That is understandable and it’s great to see improvements happening.

However, my concern is the way in which these proposed scope of works are being formally addressed. I will give you an actual example:

An Owner has sought to do renovation works as listed above. For the kitchen, in his Special By-Law he has stated the following:

Renovation of the kitchen of the Authorised Lot including:

  1. Removal and installation of cabinet with laminated bench tops; and
  2. Removal and installation of wall tiles including waterproofing works.

The Strata Manager has decided to place the entirety of the kitchen renovation as being ‘minor works’ and therefore the Owners Corporation are instructed in the ballot paper to consider it as an ‘ordinary resolution’ ie: 50% approval.

I raised my concern that this is incorrect pursuant to the new changes in the Strata Schemes Management Act (NSW) 2015. My concern is that item (b) namely waterproofing is considered a major work under the new legislation and therefore this particular item (b) should be a ‘stand-alone’ item and the strata approval for renovations should be considered by the Owners Corporation as a special resolution. In other words, item (a) of the Kitchen Renovation being considered as Ordinary Resolution whilst item (b) as a Special Resolution. Alternatively, perhaps, have both items (A and B) consolidated as a Special Resolution.

My suggestion to the Strata Manager about the process of strata approval for renovations has been ignored. Likewise by the other members of the Strata Committee.

I seek your interpretation of how this particular proposal for Kitchen Renovation ought to have been prepared for the Owners Corporation to vote on.

Since my suggestion is ignored and the Owners Corporation are about to vote on it with only 48-hour turn around, is it possible that an action can be taken to have this resolution deemed void assuming that my suggestion is correct? If so, what is the procedure to be taken?

Answer: Your interpretation is correct.

Your interpretation is correct. Any work which involves waterproofing necessitates the creation of a by-law irrespective of the fact that a kitchen renovation is designated a “minor renovation”. You have understood correctly that while a kitchen renovation is indeed a minor renovation if such a renovation also includes waterproofing works then the works need to be approved by way of a special resolution (by-law). Section 110(7)(d) SSMA 2015 clearly states that the section does NOT apply (ie categorising a kitchen a minor renovation) where the proposed works involve waterproofing.

We also agree with your approach that both sets of works ie cabinetry and waterproofing be detailed in one and the same by-law (rather than passing some works by ordinary resolution and others by special resolution).

Despite all of the above, however, we are not aware that a kitchen is a “wet area” within the meaning of the Building Code of Australia for the requirement for waterproofing.

For the full question and our detailed response, visit the original publication at Look Up Strata. Do you have a question relating to your property or development? Contact us!

Please note that this article is provided for information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional legal advice.