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Purchase of common property wholly contained within a lot

Discussion in 'Renovation & Home Improvement' started by TFE, 12th Sep, 2016.

  1. TFE

    TFE Member

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    Hi everyone,

    My wife and I currently live in a 2 level 2 bedroom apartment. We recently discovered a rather large void above the kitchen. Our living room ceiling is very high, and it appears as though this area has been built in to lower the ceiling over the kitchen. I have attached a photo to make it easier to understand.

    We are interested in converting this area to either storage, or more ideally, a 3rd bedroom. We approached strata, and they said that the void is common property (which is weird as it is wholly contained within our unit and isn't accessible from any other unit).

    I was wondering what our options were? If it is just storage I figure we can just ask for sole use of the space, however if we want to go down the extra bedroom route, we would need to purchase the space from strata, and on top of that get permission to convert it? It would need to have a window installed in the roof to make it legal, which would also require strata approval.

    The block is only small, and we are on the owners corporation, so we know everyone we would have to ask and they know us. The strata committee is pretty good as well, so I'm confident we could get a plan through as long as it doesn't impact the external look.

    Has anyone done this type of thing before? I'm interested, as converting a 2 bedroom apartment into a 3 bedroom apartment would add some serious value.

    I have added a photo to give more context, the void is behind the large blank plaster area behind the fan and above the kitchen
     

    Attached Files:

  2. vtt

    vtt Well-Known Member

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    The strata own the space within the void, you own the paint on the ceiling in the kitchen but they own the ceiling and the roof and everything in between.

    So if you want to do anything with that space then you need their permission, and you may even need to pay for the right to do it, which may include registering a by-law or "buying" the space from them. Depending what you want to do with the space you may also need council permission, I'd say if you want to put an extra bedroom and/or window in then you will definitely need council permission as there may be limits on the number of bedrooms for that particular development.

    Even if strata give you approval you may have to reinforce the ceiling (as it would now be a floor), think about where you're going to put a door (meaning potentially more approvals), insulation, window/s, ventilation etc.

    May want to consider whether the cost and time is even worth it.
     
    Scott No Mates likes this.
  3. Gockie

    Gockie I'm an ISTP-A female, so I might be a bit quirky! Premium Member

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    Going off that image I would think the roof height wouldnt be legal for a bedroom.

    Looks to be only over 1m on average?
     
  4. TFE

    TFE Member

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    Roof height is 2.8 meters at the tallest sloping down to 1.2 meters. We wouldn't be submitting it as an official bedroom, it would be classed as a storeroom. The other dimensions are 3.2 X 3.4.

    As I see it we will need to:

    Get a sole use by law passed at next agm, get strata approval to modify the common area (the void) then submit a complying development DA (attic conversion company will do this) the quote came back at 30k. Regardless of the value, for us having an extra 10sqm of space in our apartment would make a huge difference. Much cheaper than taking out a 1 million loan to by a terrace (especially when we have no mortgage.)
     
    Susan likes this.
  5. vtt

    vtt Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure it's as easy as you're making it out to be. Have you looked into registering a by-law and how that is created? You will need to get a strata lawyer to draw that up for you. Have you spoken with your strata manager about all of this yet? You'll need to give them full plans and diagrams on exactly what areas of common property are being modified, and then you (and any future owner) will likely have to accept responsibility and liability for any maintenance and repair of that area and any part of common property relating to this work wholly within your lot.

    Given that now your lot floor plan will be affected, your unit entitlement may also change which means your strata levies may increase. I'm not sure on that point though, your strata manager or lawyer may be able to better advise you on that.

    I'm not trying to be difficult, I had a strata property previously for 12 years and whilst I didn't go through the exact same thing as what you are doing, I did go through something similar and it was way more complicated than the way you are describing.
     
  6. dabbler

    dabbler Well-Known Member

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    Your a nice person.....I have seen a lot of units where people have just removed walls and done as they like, one I remember, but did not see myself, a guy bought adjoining unit and knocked down the wall between !

    No bedroom, but a storeroom/study may work IMO.
     
  7. TFE

    TFE Member

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    Thanks for your reply, I am aware it isn't an easy task. We have already been in contact with a strata lawyer and we are in the process of getting the by-law drafted. We held a meeting with the executive committee on the weekend and explained exactly what we want to do and they agreed to unanimously support the by-law and all agreed it was wasted space that should be used. They suggested that we draft the by-Law to include the following points

    1. Sole use of the space by our unit
    2. We take responsibility of maintainence of the common area
    3. Prior to any works commencing to modifying the area we will give the executive committee an engineering report detailing the exact modifications

    As far as council goes, the attic conversion company will do it under a complying deevelopment as a storage room.

    With regards to the increased levies, we are happy to pay them.

    Anything we haven't considered yet?

    Cheers
     
  8. dabbler

    dabbler Well-Known Member

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    I can't think of any right now, you have the go ahead it seems.

    Strata fees wont change, there is no need for that and seems you do not have a petty bunch to deal with, which is good.

    Well done, a sensible good outcome.

    If it is written anywhere that it is common area, get that removed, but I doubt it is written or on the plan, someone just said that too you.

    Cheers
     
  9. TFE

    TFE Member

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    I don't even think it appears anywhere on the strata plan hah... We were just told by the strata managers that it is common area. If we went to sell, we would include a copy of the by law as a special condition on the contract.
     
  10. dabbler

    dabbler Well-Known Member

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    PS you do not need each bedroom or living room in a unit to be written as sole use for that lot, it is within the lot, and with this space there is no external access. The legal person you are hiring should be able to word things properly.

    If it was me, just having it recorded and passed/adopted would be all I would want.

    Make sure anyone who does the work is insured etc in case they damage anything or cause some structural problem.