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    I just looked at a unit for sale and agent appears to have misled that the renovation of knocking out part of the wall between kitchen and lounge was approved. Is there any way of getting them retrospectively assessed and approved so everything is in order if i ever was to sell. Thank you

    • This topic was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by .
    Lady PenelopeLady Penelope

    I guess the process would depend on whether it was Council approval and/or OC approval that required. I will assume that it was only OC approval that was required.

    You mentioned that only part of a wall was removed between the kitchen and the lounge room. Was this a load bearing wall? If not then it would probably be classified as only a Minor Renovation as it is not a structural change. Minor Renovations include reconfiguration of walls.

    You would need to put a Motion on the Agenda that requires approval by Ordinary Resolution. The Motion would need to state what works have been carried out e.g. creating an opening in a non-load bearing wall between the kitchen and lounge room.

    To strengthen your request for approval you could obtain a report from a builder that states that (a) the work has been carried out competently, (b) that no load bearing walls were changed, and (c) that the renovation has not caused any damage to the common property.

    In your Explanatory Material that would accompany your Motion you could state that you were not aware that the works had not been approved, and that you do not know which builder undertook the works therefore you are obtaining a building report of the completed works, and that you are seeking retrospective approval of this works by the OC.

    It also may strengthen your case if you aware that other Owners in your building have already obtained approval to undertake this type of work. A conversation with neighbours or a search of the strata records should reveal this information.

    Owners Corporations must act reasonably when approving requests for renovations.

    Sir HumphreySir Humphrey

    As a general principle, the remedy for anything that was not done correctly is to do things correctly later. So, whatever process should have been applied to your unit alteration could be done now to correct the situation. Depending on the details and the strata legislation in your state or territory and your particular owners corporation’s rules/by-laws/articles, that might require a general meeting resolution or just for the executive committee to minute its approval and give that you in writing or it might require a local council development approval as well.

    Lady PenelopeLady Penelope

    There is a bit of confusion about walls and what constitutes a ‘structural change’ and what constitutes a ‘non structural’ change or a ‘reconfiguration’. Knowing the difference between the two means that one is probably a Minor Renovation and the other is a Major Renovation. As we all know, approvals for both are quite different.

    Here is an extract from Partridge, (a multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy in St Leonards, Sydney), when asked the question about a servery window in a kitchen:

    Generally speaking, in multi-storey or strata situations, the engineer’s main focus is “Will the removal of this wall impact the structure and the neighbour above?”. If, in your example, the servery wall is non-loadbearing (i.e. it doesn’t support the floor above), then simply increasing the size of the servery window would be a non-structural change. Yes, the servery window might now need a new or larger lintel above it, but that’s a simple internal matter of just holding up the brickwork above the window. The sizing, configuration, and fire-rating of the lintel has no impact or influence on the floor and neighbour above, so we would deem it a non-structural change. 

    • This reply was modified 8 months, 4 weeks ago by .
    AvatarColonel Schultz

    LP that’s a great summary. I always wondered about what wall reconfiguration actually meant.

    I was also wondering if approval would be needed, at all this case whereby internal walls are not shown on the strata plan in a pre 74 strata. According to an article by Bannerman’s lawyers these walls are not deemed common property. What’s your take on that?

    Lady PenelopeLady Penelope

    In my opinion  …

    It is essential first to obtain a structural engineers report to ascertain whether the wall to be removed is structural or non structural, and whether waterproofing will be impacted.

    If there are no internal walls on the structural plan then the engineer should state this in the report.

    The structural engineer’s report should be included with any application to the Owner’s Corporation for renovation work.

    Check with your Council. A Council Development Application may still be required where you are changing the dimensions of any room. The Council Development Application requires approval by the Owners’ Corporation.

    An internal wall, although it is not located on common property will still impact common property as it touches the common property ceiling slab and the common property floor slab.

    The removal of an internal wall will be either a Minor Renovation or a Major Renovation, depending on the circumstances.

    If total removal of a non structural wall is desired then the project would probably be classified as a ‘reconfiguration’ and therefore be a Minor Renovation.

    If total removal of a non structural wall is desired AND it impacts on any waterproofing then this shifts the project into being a Major Renovation.

    If total removal of a structural wall is desired then it would be a Major Renovation.

    Minor Renovations require a different type of approval process than Major Renovations.




    • This reply was modified 8 months, 4 weeks ago by .
    AvatarColonel Schultz

    LP  I tend to agree with you on all of that where a wall is common property.

    I was not talking about a structual plan, I was talking about walls not shown on the actual strata plan.

    As per 110 <b>Minor renovations</b> by owners. (1) The owner of a lot in a <b>strata</b> scheme may carry out work for the purposes of <b>minor renovations</b> to common property….

    if Bannerman’s are correct that internal walls in a pre 74 strata scheme that are not shown on the strata plan are not deemed as common property, then could one argue that permission is not needed as 110 only relates to work to common property assuming the wall is not structural ?


    Lady PenelopeLady Penelope

    There are only 3 types of Renovations: Cosmetic, Minor, or Major.

    You may have missed my point about the the internal walls being attached to the common property slabs i.e. ceiling and floor.

    The wall itself may not be common property, and it may not be structural, however the wall being attached to common property is important.

    Therefore a wall removal will be at least a Minor Renovation. If not a Minor Renovation then it will be a Major Renovation.

    The only other type of renovation is a Cosmetic Renovation. Removal of a wall is not a Cosmetic Renovation as it is not a superficial ‘day to day’ renovation e.g.  hanging a painting.


    Lady Penelope, I agree very hard to argue that to add or remove even a non structural wall, if it is attached to a floor, ceiling or external wall, is not a major renovation requiring a by-law. If there is any doubt, go the by-law.


    Love the discussion on Cosmetic/Minor/Major renovations – This topic is crying out for detailed clarification, which NSW Fair Trading has so far avoided.

    But from a conveyancing perspective, because it is a possible defect in title, Lynnecg (and anyone else in her position purchasing a strata unit that has been renovated in this way) should impose an obligation on the vendor to obtain retrospective ‘as built’ approval to the renovation.

    What I suggest is to include a special condition in the Contract such as: “Prior to completion, the vendor will, at the vendor’s expense, obtain the necessary approval from the owners corporation and the Local Council (if appropriate) to these works: …..

    Completion is conditional upon this condition being satisfied to the purchaser’s reasonable satisfaction, and if required under the Strata Law, the registration of a strata by-law in respect of the works.”

    AvatarColonel Schultz

    TonyC, I think that would require the vendor to agree to any change in the terms of  contract for sale which they may not agree, but thats another topic.
    In my case I’m the other way around as it appears that at least 3 owners in my block have removed sections of internal walls.
    There is nothing on the records that i can find and no by law for the works. I was unaware of when we purchased our unit as nothing was noted on the strata report.
    I only have online photos and floor plans to rely on and some photos I took myself from a more recent reno.

    • This reply was modified 8 months, 4 weeks ago by .

    In my block of units (24) which an owner removed a wall with out notifying the owners corporation or the strata manager. This was done in a matter of months of the units originally being sold (new building).  8 years later prospective owners wanted to do exactly the same thing , same floor plan but on a different level of the building. The Strata manager made them get an engineer’s report, council approval and have a by-law drawn up which cost in excess of  $1500. The wall removed was not structural. My question is there any come back on the owner who did the renovation without approval. The units are an over 55 building.

    Sir HumphreySir Humphrey

    Lizzie, “is there any come back on the owner who did the renovation without approval”. Here is an option before getting heavy. If the unapproved work was the same as the approved work, you could propose to amend the by-law and approval for the approved work to cover the unapproved work as well (or perhaps anyone wanting to do the same) on condition that the owner who paid $1500 is reimbursed half their costs by the owner who proceeded without approval. You could put this suggestion verbally at first to see what their reaction is.

    You could suggest that the committee could put the proposal in writing if they are agreeable. Alternatively, the committee could write them a letter requesting that they do the whole process for retrospective approval, which would be on the owners corporation’s records and consequently could be found by any potential purchaser of the unit. Purchasers and their banks might be wary if they discover that the unit has unapproved alterations.

    So, play nicely and it costs $750. Be difficult and it costs $1500 or potential difficulties with any sale of the unit they might have in mind.


    Thanks Sir Humphrey,

    The renovations were identical, the only difference being one was on the ground floor and the unapproved one was on the second floor (top level). I am unaware if removing the wall on the top level affected the roof. The owner maintained he was an engineer (no proof ever provided) and had a copy of the plans from the Council, but as far as we know he didn’t get approval from them to remove the wall. As far as the prospective owner was concerned at the EGM  he was given approval to start the renovation on settlement of the purchase of the property which was only two weeks before Christmas even though the By-law had not been lodged. The lodgement of the By-law didn’t happen and at the next AGM it was decided not to lodge it as the work had been completed.

    Our Strata Manager told us at he time we couldn’t get retrospective approval for the unapproved renovation.

    Thanks again Lizzie


    It’s happening right now with us. If the loud banging means anything, a wall has been removed, probably separating the kitchen and lounge areas. One hopes that it’s not supporting the unit above.

    The owner has lied to Strata Committee members, saying “we are not doing any structural works we are replacing kitchen cupboards” and is unlikely to facilitate any inspection.

    Obviously, we don’t want to encourage this sort of thing. What should the committee do, noting that NCAT orders are not enforceable.


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