Reforms to the New South Wales Strata Scheme

New south wales strata scheme

Buying a property can be stressful and place a financial burden on families. Buying a strata unit in need of renovation requires even further consideration and costs, in particular where renovations are of a kind that permission must be sought from the Strata Title Management and Owners Corporation.

The reforms made to the NSW Strata Scheme have introduced a new framework for renovations within a strata unit.

The NSW legislation now categorises renovation works in a strata unit into 3 categories:

  1. Cosmetic Work
  2. Minor Renovations
  3. Major Renovations
Cosmetic Works

S109 of the Strata Scheme Management Act 2015 (NSW) stipulates that cosmetic works includes but not limited to works such as:

  1. installing or replacing hooks, nails or screws for hanging paintings and other thingson walls;
  2. installing or replacing handrails;
  3. painting;
  4. filling minor holes and cracks in internal walls;
  5. laying carpet,
  6. installing or replacing built-in wardrobes;
  7. installing or replacing internal blinds and curtains;
  8. any other work prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this subsection.

The by-laws of a strata scheme may nominate additional work that may be included under the category of Cosmetic Works.

The owner may carry out the renovation works under the above category without the approval of the Owners Corporation.

S109 however does not apply to the following work:

  • work that consists of minor renovations for the purposes of section 110;
  • work involving structural changes;
  • work that changes the external appearance of a lot, including the installation of an external access ramp;
  • work that detrimentally affects the safety of a lot or common property, including fire safety systems;
  • work involving waterproofing or the plumbing or exhaust system of a building in a strata scheme;
  • work involving reconfiguring walls;
  • work for which consent or another approval is required under any other Act; or
  • any other work prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this subsection.
Minor Renovations

S110 of the Act specifies the following works as minor renovations:

  • renovating a kitchen,
  • changing recessed light fittings;
  • installing or replacing wood or other hard floors;
  • installing or replacing wiring or cabling or power or access points;
  • work involving reconfiguring walls;
  • any other work prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this subsection.

In order to carry out minor renovation work in a strata unit, the owner requires the approval of the Owners Corporation, given by way of resolution at a general meeting. However, a special resolution to authorise minor renovations is not required.

The owner of the strata unit must provide written notice of the proposed minor renovations to the Owners Corporation including details of the work, copies of any plans, duration and time of the work, details of the persons carrying out the work, including qualifications to carry out the work and arrangements to dispose of any debris.

The Owners Corporation may impose reasonable conditions in relation to minor renovations requested by the owner of the strata unit and cannot unreasonably withhold such approval.

Major Renovations

Any renovation work in the strata unit that affects the common property such as removing common walls, waterproofing, adding or extending structures or enclosing balconies is specified in the Act as a major renovation.

Unlike minor renovations, which typically require only require a written notice from the Owners Corporation providing consent to the work, major renovations will have a more complicated process for approval.

The approval for major renovation works require a new by-law to be passed at the Owners Corporation general meeting.


In carrying out renovations in a strata unit of a strata scheme, the owner should consider whether the approval of the Owners Corporations is required and if so what are the conditions and by-laws.

Irrespective of the above, the owner needs to review the strata by-laws to ascertain there are no further requirements stipulated by the Owners Corporation for any type of renovation work in the strata unit. Some by-laws require the renovations to be limited to certain days or certain times of the day, or they may require prior notice from the owner and the list of the tradesmen who will be authorised to enter the building. Generally the Owners Corporation require that the owner pay for any upkeep or maintenance of the renovated areas.

It is therefore crucial that the owner obtains the written approval of the Owners Corporation to avoid any future fines or, alternatively, be ordered to undo the work done in the strata unit.

If you have any queries in relation to your strata by-laws, or any works you wish to commence in your strata unit, or alternatively, if you require assistance with drafting by-laws please contact one of the experienced Sydney Corporate Lawyers at Pavuk Legal.


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