STP-15 Structural Alteration of Lots
Version 1 – 04/01/2019
1 Requirements for Building Additions in Strata Schemes (formerly section 19.1 of the practice manual)
On registration of a Strata Plan, any buildings and services that are in place are part of the scheme. If at any time after registration, a proprietor of a lot in the scheme wishes to make improvements, additions or structural alterations to his lot or to construct a new building on his lot, various consents and approvals are required.
A lot proprietor may erect an extension to or make structural alteration to a lot with the prior written approval of the other lot proprietors in the scheme, subject to local government approvals. Where all of these consents cannot be obtained, or it is difficult to contact all proprietors, the proposal can be submitted to the strata company for consideration at a General Meeting.
Except in the case of a two (2) lot scheme where a unanimous resolution is required, an approval by a resolution without dissent is required. A proprietor who objects to the proposal may only vote against the proposal on certain grounds (see section 7(5) of the STA).
Objections to such proposals can only be made where the carrying out of the proposal:
- will breach open space and plot ratio requirements
- will result in a structure visible from outside the lot which is not in keeping with the rest of the development
- may affect the structural soundness of a building
- may interfere with any implied easements created by sections 11 and 12 of the STA
- will contravene a by-law of the strata company.
If the proposal relates to a “vacant lot”, objections can only be made where:
- the proposal will breach open space and plot ratio requirements
- will contravene a by-law of the strata company.
The type of improvements that need this form of approval are any dwelling, shop, factory, commercial premises, garage, carport or any or other building whether free standing or annexed, where the construction needs approval by the local government or other authority. The area of the improvement is taken into account for determining plot ratio requirements.
2 Requirements for Building Additions in Survey-Strata Schemes (formerly section 19.2 of the practice manual)
Unlike Strata Plans, Survey-Strata Plans do not show any buildings so that boundaries are not linked to buildings and unless there are prescribed grounds (limits or restrictions in specific by-laws of the strata company) there is no restriction as to dimensions, style, colours and materials, except as may be specified by local government or other authority.
However, any improvement to an existing structure or any new building in a survey-strata scheme must conform to the open space or plot ratio requirements for the lot.
The by-laws of the strata company may contain specific by-laws that confine building development to certain designs, colours and size. If the building or addition does contravene these requirements, approval for the purposes of the STA, must be obtained from the other proprietor in the case of a two (2) lot scheme or, in a larger scheme by a resolution without dissent from the strata company.
3 Procedures to Obtain Consent (formerly section 19.3 of the practice manual)
There are certain procedures and time frames that need to be followed by a proprietor seeking approval for the erection of, alteration to, or extension of a structure. These are the requirement to serve an application setting out details of the proposal on either the strata company or, in the case of a two (2) lot scheme the other proprietor. The council of the strata company must then submit the application to a General Meeting of the strata company within 35 days of receipt of the application. If the council does not call a meeting within 14 days of receiving the application the proprietor seeking the approval may convene a General Meeting.
- The notice of the meeting must contain a statement in the terms of regulation 30 of the STGR.
- At the meeting, the application should be tabled and debated. The chairperson must read to the meeting the statement as shown in regulation 30.
- A notice in writing of the decision must be given by the strata company to the applicant within 77 days after service of the application but, in the case of a two lot scheme a reply must be given by the other proprietor within 42 days.
- If notice of a decision (and the grounds for the decision) is not given to the applicant within the time frame or the other proprietor in a two lot scheme refuses approval and the grounds for refusal are not given, the approval applied for is deemed to have been given (see section 7B(7) of the STA).
4 Local Government (Permit Authority) Approval (formerly section 19.4 of the practice manual)
The STA does not override normal practices and procedures with respect to building permits. An application for a building permit can be made by the lot proprietor or, in certain circumstances where the structure is on common property, by the strata company.
There is no requirement under the STA for applications for building permits to indicate that the proper consents have been obtained from either the other lot owner or the strata company. The local government may wish to ensure these consents are in place before issuing a permit.
It is the responsibility of the person obtaining the permit to arrange the necessary consents. Failure to do so could result in the lot owner having to reinstate the premises to its former condition.
Other considerations for applications of this nature that need to be verified are:
- By-laws or management statements that may be in place for architectural styles and landscaping.
- Restrictive covenants encumbering the parcel which may contain building and design limitations.
- Restrictive covenants or covenants in gross that may benefit or restrict the building size, style and number of dwellings on the parcel forming the scheme.
This type of information is recorded on the Strata/Survey-Strata Plan’s encumbrance schedule by document number and a brief description of the document type. It is recommended that a copy of the information contained in these registered documents accompany the building permit application so that the building surveyor is aware of the conflict with such by-laws or covenants.
5 Actual Building Construction (formerly section 19.5 of the practice manual)
During the construction stage of the improvement, every effort should be made to ensure common property driveways and foot access is not restricted by building materials or builders’ vehicles, plant or equipment. Details of this type of inconvenience should be detailed in the application to the strata company as well as an approximate time frame for the construction period. In some cases, strata companies may restrict the hours of work as a condition of approval.
Details of any work affecting other land must be included in the application for a building permit and must comply with sections 76 & 77 of the Building Act 2011.