How Do You Renovate An Apartment Within a Building?

How Do You Renovate An Apartment Within a Building?

Are you planning a renovation on an apartment? As anyone who has simply tried to move furniture into a 4th floor loft already knows, the idea of bringing heavy equipment to an apartment block is rarely an easy logistical process.

Renovation is a tricky subject, there’s a LOT to think about, but it all gets so much more intense when you’re working with an apartment inside an already established building. There’s neighbours to consider, walls that absolutely can’t be touched, and depending on what floor you’re on there could be a mass of issues there too. So how do you do it? How do you renovate an apartment within a building? Well, it’s time to find out.

The Location
The first thing you need to do is look into the location of your apartment. How accessible is your apartment to workers and their supplies? Can they come and go freely or do they require your presence to operate the elevator? Are any of your windows outward facing and is there a balcony from which workers can bring materials in through or take materials out? What about parking? Are workers able to park near to the site or will they have to bring tools and supplies in from a distance away? Logistical questions like this can be the difference between an easy, seamless process of renovations, or constant hassles every step of the way, so it’s important to clear them out first.

It’s also important to consider the various entryways that a particular property allows. Apartments are, by their nature, part of a larger block, and that can make it very difficult for workers to bring their equipment to where it needs to be. Now of course, if you’re doing the work yourself you probably have less logistical issues to take care of as you can work in your own time and with your own skills and resources, but regardless of whether you’re doing it alone or with employees one thing you need to consider is…

The Laws and Legal Permissions
Every state has laws that you will have to deal with in regards to your renovations. The first big one is noise – renovations cause a lot of noise and they absolutely will run against laws regarding reasonable or unreasonable residential noise. Power tools, for instance, are specifically called out in Victorian law, stating that they are not permitted to be used before 7 am and after 8 pm Monday to Friday, and on weekends and public holidays not before 9 am and not after 8 pm. A full list for Victoria can be found on the Environmental Protection Authority website.

However, noise isn’t the only issue you might have to contend with. Housing Corporations have a lot of power when it comes to authorising or vetoing renovations, in fact if a housing corporation requests an owner make specified external renovations, after 28 days they can force the renovations to occur by hiring renovators themselves and charging the home owner for the cost. Other laws affect what materials you can use, with some materials explicitly banned from use in building or renovations such as flammable cladding. And on top of all that, you very well might need to apply for a permit. Suffice to say, there are a lot of laws that need to be obeyed when doing any renovations, we’ve compiled a shortlist right here:

  • Strata by-laws on Interior renovations (apartments and townhouses)
  • Installation and use of floor coverings
  • Installation and use of air conditioning, satellite dishes and other technologies
  • Contacting registered professionals for maintenance and repairs
  • Submitting plans to relevant authorities
  • Give notification of the duration of the renovation project
  • Give the Owners Corporation 21 days notice of your intention to renovate
  • Give neighbours 14 days notice of your intended renovations
  • Ensure work is not carried out when it might unduly impact the lives of others in the apartment complex
  • Ensure noise is kept to reasonable levels at reasonable times.
  • Estimate the time needed to work or transport materials through common areas

It should be noted that some cosmetic improvements can be done without going through an approval process. It’s always best to find out first before doing any renovations. For example, you can probably change your curtains without any major issue, but if they alter the appearance of the building from the outside the local owner’s corporation could demand the originals be returned and can enforce their decision as stated above. If this is all looking a little to dense for you, don’t worry, every state has a building authority that you can contact for more information, for Victoria you’ll find it right here. However, even with that support, if reading through endless piles of rules, guidelines and legislation isn’t your thing, it might be worth hiring a professional builder for construction solutions and other matters of problem identification and problem solving.

The Budget
Finally, the last thing you should consider before renovating is your budget. Everything costs money, and don’t think for a moment that an apartment is much cheaper than a house. The string of limitations in an apartment where work in your house directly impacts your neighbours can cause a myriad of restrictions that increase the work-time, and you might be very limited in what physical renovations you can even make – it’s not like you can easily relocate the pipes of the whole complex so you can move the bathroom or kitchen somewhere else! The more extensive your renovations, the more issues you’ll find, and finding solutions will take a lot of planning.

But the good news is, you’ve got time. Renovations must be planned out by law at least two weeks in advance – after all you have to give 21 days notice to an Owner’s Corporation and 14 days notice to your neighbours – so chances are you’ll have a lot of time to start sorting out solutions to all of these problems. And once you have solutions, you’ll have no problem overcoming those hurdles!

So good luck with everything and when you’re good and ready, get to work!

Whilst each property type is going to have its own difficulties when it comes time to plan renovations, apartments are well known for their logistical difficulty, especially those not on the ground floor. However, the task isn’t impossible, and as long as you know the layout of the building, as well as local legislation and legal permissions required, your new apartment is in sight.

How Do You Renovate An Apartment Within a Building?

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