What you need to know about renovating a sectional title unit

Renovating your home is a very exciting venture but it can also be quite stressful. In a sectional title complex, it is important to remember that there are rules – and neighbours – to be considered in the process of renovating your unit.

The body corporate

Firstly, the body corporate trustees have to be notified of your intention to renovate your unit via an application along with supporting documentation which should include the following:

  • Architectural plans of the apartment showing any intended changes, especially where walls may be removed.
  • If you are planning to remove walls, the application must include a letter from a structural engineer stating that the wall is not load bearing and will not have any impact on the structural integrity of the building.
  • Any electrical or water changes that will be done must be indicated.

The owner should check the scheme’s rules relating to renovations which may include set hours (between 8am and 4pm for instance) when contractors may make a noise and days when workers may not work (like Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays).

Rules that have been applied to deal with renovations will also have damages deposit requirements and penalties for late completion. Other rule requirements will also include a document that must be signed by the owner taking responsibility for the actions of their contractors.

Local municipality

Once the owner has received approval from the body corporate, the owner must ensure that their application is submitted to the local municipality for approval. The approval from the trustees will be subject to council approval.

Owners that do not obtain council approval may be prohibited by the body corporate from commencing with renovations which may cause delays and possibly add additional costs. Council will also require, as part of the application, a copy of the consent letter from the trustees indicating that they have approved the renovations.

Issues to consider when renovating

Some owners will do renovations for the purpose of making the apartment easier to let or easier to sell. The purpose of these types of renovations may be different from an owner doing renovations to improve their enjoyment of their living environment.

Older apartments can be renovated to create more open space with fewer rooms and walls which may pose problems such as old electrical installations and piping that will need to be replaced. For that reason, the costs of renovating older apartments may be higher than that of a more modern apartment.

Apartments that are being let or sold are easier to renovate and may only require a fresh coat of paint rather than renovations.


Renovations do not have to be stressful if the owner plans well and ensures that all the requirements from the body corporate and local council are complied with.

It is always advisable to consider the environment in which the renovations are done by being considerate to neighbours, and by ensuring that workers stick to time and date restrictions as per the agreement. Owners that are not considerate and do not comply with the rules of the scheme will have to put up with continuous complaints and even financial penalties which will be stressful and unpleasant for everyone involved. For that reason, it is best to plan well and ensure that you follow the rules of the body corporate diligently in the process of renovating your unit.