Renovating your first condominium property? Here's what you need to know

PHOTO: I Interior

Renovating a condominium is different since the process is more complicated than a typical HDB renovation. Therefore, it is inevitable that a greater degree of planning and legwork is required. Nevertheless, to help you start, here are six quick tips!

1. Alterations that result in an increase in Gross Floor Area (GFA) will require planning permission

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Any renovation works that result in an increase in GFA will require planning permission approval. When the home improvement works cause an increase in GFA, you will require a letter signed by the Secretary or Chairperson of the estate’s Management Corporation (MC). The letter has to include that MC has 90 per cent resolution, to authorize you to proceed with the proposed works for the strata unit.

What this means to you

The authorization letter must be submitted together with the proposal as part of the planning application to the URA. Do note that conservation strata-titled residential properties need to adhere to different guidelines delineated here.

2. Changes to common property will require MC’s approval

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Generally, making any alterations to common property will require the permission of the MC. These changes usually include improvement works that affect the external façade of the property, such as the installation of additional awning in a common property wall and balcony screens.

What this means to you

Find out what constitutes common property. In addition, you should also be aware that the concept of majority rule in a strata development should not be taken to the extreme, when the safety of children is at stake.

3. Management Corporation (MC) rules might restrict the type of renovation activities

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Generally, the estate’s house rules might restrict the kind of renovations that can be carried out. For instance, the house rules  may stipulate the time and duration of renovation work that can be done during the weekdays and weekends.

Furthermore, types of permitted renovation works may differ from estate to estate too. For example, popular balcony enhancements such as installation of glass curtains, are only permitted in certain Condominiums.

What this means to you

Find out the rules that govern the renovations in your Condominium and make sure that these regulations are communicated to your Renovation Professional. You should also consider engaging Renovation Professionals who have experience in carrying out renovation in Condominiums. 

ALSO READ: My home renovation journey: How I transformed an old resale condominium with odd corners and made it pet friendly

4. Access to the estate is limited

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You have to arrange for your Renovation Professional’s access to the premises with the Management Agent (MA). If your Condominium was just granted the Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) status, chances are there are many other renovations going on at the same time. Hence, the availability and access to the elevator and the visitor parking lots are limited.

What this means to you

Remember to inform the appropriate MA staff, especially the security personnel, who and when your renovation workers require access well ahead of time. An experienced Renovation Professional would buffer in the expected delays due to the limited access to the buildings and come up with a contingency plan when that happens.

5. Ensure that arrangement for bulky renovation waste removal is made

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Unlike HDB flats where Town Council provides a free bulky item removal service for the HDB residents, your Renovation Professional need to make sure that the disposal of the waste generated from the renovation should be removed on a regular basis. Certain items, such as flammable items, wet cement and other adhesive materials are not to be thrown into the refuse chutes.

What this means to you

Find out from the MA if there are any guidelines that should be observed during the removal of the debris. Make sure that the MA is informed of the schedules for the removal of waste.

Do take note that you are  also liable for the cost of replacement or repairs for the damages to the refuse chute and/or Common Property. In addition, the waste removals workmen are to use only lifts and staircases stipulated by the MA, so as not to inconvenience the residents. 

6. Set aside a buffer budget

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No matter how well-planned the renovation is, something might go awry. Therefore, setting aside some buffer in the renovation budget helps, especially since renovating a Condominium will involve more overhead. For example, you might need to factor in the costs of renovation waste disposal.

What this means to you

The recommendation for a contingency budget is usually 5 per cent to 10 per cent of the total cost that you are prepared to spend. Remember to ask for a detailed breakdown of the renovation quotation.

ALSO READ: 5 no-reno updates to give your HDB or condo a new lease of life

This article was first published in Renonation.sg.