A recent real estate commentary from The Australian says that there is a continuous change in the nation’s housing preferences. People still dream of living large—in a large home with three bedrooms in a big block—but more people are ready to move into smaller CBD apartments in pursuit of accessibility and a centralised lifestyle. This makes us go back to several good episodes of The BLOCK, where everyone sees the challenges of renovating smaller spaces like apartment building units.
There are undeniable difficulties in renovating an apartment in real life such as your neighbours, your accessibility, and the building's committee. It is not as easy as what you see on television. In fact, it is far from reality. Stunning apartment transformations are possible but you have to be ready to handle the work and avoid the potential problems. We're not previous contestants of The BLOCK, but here are our tips on how you can do your apartment renovation with less hassle:
There is nothing better than planning ahead
You can tweak the apartment space you bought to fit your lifestyle, but you have to seek the approval of the building committee. Ask them if it's allowed to change windows, add a balcony, or upgrade external features. You should also ask if you can change any external structures or awnings. Some will allow it, some won't because they need to maintain a consistent exterior design. Once you got answers, plan your new design with your preferred designer and submit complete structural drawings to the strata committee. You need their 'Yes' before you start doing work.
Make sure you're talking to commercial design and construction experts
The structure of a building apartment is different from a residential house. You don' just knock walls down—or else you'll weaken the integrity of the entire structure. It's best to speak with commercial design and construction experts, particularly to the building's structural engineer. This is the best way to safely renovate your apartment building without wrecking a structural wall and potentially putting the lives of other tenants in danger.
Be friends with your neighbours
This strategy works all the time! Being friends with your neighbours helps you communicate with them properly. If possible, talk to the tenants beside, above, under, and in front of your unit—they're the people who will be directly affected by the ongoing construction. Tell them that you're doing some work in your unit and it may produce disturbing construction noises in the morning. Help them establish expectations and keep them updated with your renovation's development.
Note: Maintain a friendly approach even if your neighbours come in angry during a discussion. Try to negotiate with them, so they'll feel better and compromise.
Schedule your construction properly
Most builders and tradespeople start working as early as 7AM. Drilling, hammering, and knocking down a wall at this time will badly wake your neighbours. Again, talk to them about how their regular day go. It's best to schedule your construction from 8AM onwards when everyone leaves their units to go to school or work.
Get help with identifying your water and power lines
You need the help of building staff in determining your unit's water and power sources. Your builders need to know how to turn these on and off, without affecting the other units. You don't want any trouble with your neighbours.
Ask or get parking permits for your builders
Not everyone has a right to park, even if they live in the premium in apartment blocks. Before your work begins, scope out the options (where can you place a rubbish skip if one is required?) and determine where the builders can park without taking up resident or visitor parking spaces.
Protect common assets
The common property must be considered at all times during an apartment renovation. You will pay all the damages to common areas. Responsible builders and tradesmen are aware of this so they're always careful in transporting in building materials from their vehicle to your unit. They should also clean the common areas after their work. You don't want to annoy your neighbours and the strata committee.
You can't change a bathroom easily
There are bathroom renovations that you can easily do such as using high-end or creative fixtures and finishes. However, some reconfiguration is not welcome. The strata committee may not allow you to do anything that changes your plumbing or drilling bathroom walls and floors. You might affect the apartment beside or below you. Get creative with the bathroom's interior design if the authorities won't allow you to make changes in the layout[