Points to examine when renovating a bathroom in an apartment
Renovating a bathroom in an apartment, unit or townhouse which is covered by strata or body corporate management presents a range of unique considerations which need to be examined to ensure your project runs smoothly and to plan.
Body Corporate Approval
When renovating an apartment bathroom it’s very important to notify your building manager or body corporate (often in writing), to get the approval for any works you’re wanting to do in the building. Your building’s Body Corporate bylaws may have special conditions that you have to work around including the use of common areas, site access, times work can be carried out, lift access, etc.
We recommend that you speak to your building manager or owners corporation well in advance of the renovation project beginning as sometimes body corp approvals can take months.
Often the body corp will often ask for details on things like:
- Project plans.
- Expected duration of work.
- Expected project start and finish dates.
- Assurance that work will be carried out during acceptable times of the day or week.
- When and what equipment and materials will need to be transported through common areas.
A renovation will definitely need to go through the strata management approval process if any work involves adjustments to the look of the building from the outside or any work affects common property.
Even if you think the renovation work you are planning doesn’t need to be approved by your building strata management, it’s still a good idea to let them know in case there are body corp factors you have not considered.
Keep your neighbours informed
It’s a great idea to personally notify surrounding residents to keep them informed of the project. Details such as the date works are starting and expected to finish, daily working times, as well as the type of work that will be carried out. This last point is especially important if very loud or dusty jobs need to be done such as cutting concrete or jackhammering.
Keeping your neighbours in the loop can also help reduce complaints.
When tiling floor areas in unit blocks and apartments, the floor needs to comply with body corporate regulations. Your body corp bylaws will usually specify the sound rating requirements and management may need to approve your chosen flooring product prior to installation.
We would recommend you check the specific strata bylaws for your building well ahead of the project start date to ensure you’ve covered off all necessary soundproofing guidelines.
Use licenced professional tradespeople
In a strata property, the effects of a DIY project gone wrong can be very expensive and far reaching. Something as simple as a tap replaced by an unlicenced person failing and causing a water leak could damage not only your apartment but the one underneath (and possibly the one underneath that if you’re really unlucky).
Using licenced, insured tradespeople for all and any renovations, repairs, or maintenance is essential to protect yourself, your project and neighbouring properties.
Check with the waterproofing requirements in your building or complex especially if you are planning a wet room style bathroom renovation. Most strata bylaws will state that all waterproofing needs to be carried out by a licenced waterproofer.
Due to the need to use lifts to access many apartments in multi-storey buildings, it’s essential to plan with the lift size in mind. Consider aspect such as:
- Source accurate lift dimensions to make sure all products, materials, and tools can easily be transported up to the apartment.
- Large cabinets and benchtops may need to be adjusted for transport to allow for the lift size.
Protective lift covers
To protect the walls and ceiling of the lift many buildings require tradespeople to use lift covers that are fitted to avoid damages.
Available parking & loading dock access
Depending on the location of the apartment you may face parking and building access issues, whether that be from the loading dock or the building entrance.
- Find out if there is a dedicated trade or service parking space available.
- If no onsite parking is accessible paid parking could be the only option. Include this expense in the budget.
- Building security could be another access factor that needs to be considered. A manager or security personnel may need to let you in & out or provide swipe cards/security codes for work and deliveries.
- The entrance driveway or loading dock must be able to accommodate the delivery vehicle/s.
- Trade waste disposal systems - most jobs will require a skip bin or other way to get rid of the trade waste. Find out what system is available to be used in or around the building.
The smoke alarm and fire management systems in large buildings are interconnected, whole building systems which are directly connected to the local fire service. This is great in an actual fire emergency but not so good when working with a lot of dust where a false activation of the smoke alarm can occur.
- Arrange for the smoke alarms or heat sensors to be turned off or isolated during the project and check this has been carried out each day.
- False alarms caused by the dust created during demolition work or the cutting of concrete, tiles or timber can lead to a substantial call out fee from the local fire service.
Fire sprinkler systems
Unlike smoke alarms, the fire sprinkler systems which are often linked to heat sensors are not as easy to trigger. However, that does not mean they are not going to affect your renovation.
- Sprinkler systems may need to be removed and refitted if the project involves replacing the apartment ceiling. This may need to be carried out by a licensed contractor who specialises in building fire systems.
Top Hat frame systems
Top Hat steel frames are commonly used in the building structure of multi-storey apartments to fix the wall and ceiling lining in place. The Top Hat frame style needs to be considered during the bathroom renovation planning and design process to ensure cabinets, fittings or new wall or ceiling lining can be installed easily.
Fire-rated walls & ceilings
To protect residents in apartments during a fire the Building Code of Australia requires that a specialist fire-rated plasterboard product must be used to line the walls and ceiling.
If the bathroom renovation project requires the removal or replacement of the plasterboard the fire-rating of the replacement product needs to be considered. Also when attaching fittings and fixtures to the fire-rated board the integrity needs to be maintained.
For expert advice on what needs to be considered when planning a bathroom renovation in an apartment in Brisbane contact the MasterCraft team at 0435 243 235 today.
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