Going up

When many of our older, smaller beach-side apartment blocks were built, their full potential was rarely realised. But styles and priorities change and opportunities arise.
Q: I own both top floor units live in an art deco strata block of six units that has amazing ocean views over the beach on one side. Our building needs $35k spent on maintenance and I am interested in buying the empty roof space to possibly build a bedroom with en suite. How should I approach other owners and how do I find out the value of the roof space?
Upwardly Mobile, Coogee

A: Just make sure you follow correct procedure and you should be fine. First get a genuine valuation done (that’ll probably cost up to $1000) then put a proposal to the Owners Corporation that you will buy the common property subject to planning approval from your local council.

You’ll need 75 percent of owners to agree to a special resolution changing the by-laws to allow the sale. If you want, get some initial architectural drawings done, so your neighbours can see how it will look.

The valuation should be somewhere between its actual value (virtually nothing if there is no separate access to the roof) and its potential as an increase in the value of your apartment (possibly quite considerable). Encourage the Owners Corporation to get their own independent valuation.

You may want to split the legal costs with the Owners Corporation (ie, half the legal costs, stamp duties etc, come off the purchase price) but I would recommend wearing the whole lot yourself so that your neighbours can see clearly how they are benefitting.

The other owners should be in agreement provided they are not losing anything. But beware of the dog-in-a-manger types who say ‘if I can’t have it why should you’?

Go to whatever lengths necessary to ensure there is no down-side for them, including guarantees about the work not disrupting their lives and future access to the roof for maintenance.

But with the injection of funds and the general raising of value of the building as a whole, your neighbours should be very happy to take your money. Play fair and it should be a win all round.

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