A lesson in Strata Committee approval!

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We’d worked so hard to get our plans completed, drawings changed, and our scope of works prepared.

Now all we need is to ensure our application is reviewed by the Strata Committee….and approved!

There are always horror stories about Strata Committees.

How dysfunctional they are, and what a nightmare it is to get approval. Everyone has an opinion…. right or wrong.

The owners manage the building, and there are so many personalities and types;

  • The ones that have lived there for years, and don’t want change,
  • The ones that have just down-sized to experience ‘city-living’ and aren’t used to getting approvals to do things to their ‘homes’,
  • The investors who turn up once a year, maybe, to have their say,
  • The power-hungry who love to be in control of meetings,
  • The penny-pinchers…. or,
  • The pet-owners…. the list goes on….

And then there is us…the property flippers!

Yes, for some we are the nemesis…only in it to ‘make a buck’. Well yes, we are.

And if we do our job well, we can set new sales records, provide higher comparative values, and increase the overall value of other owners’ properties. Not bad I figure…not everyone can see that!

20171102_194615.jpgCritiques blame us for not ‘caring about the community’ in the building. But, not everyone is there for the community, nor does everyone need it…we have our family for that!

So, here we are about to present two renovations at one time, …well that could be a problem. Either for the people who don’t want disturbance, for the people who don’t want change, or for the people who are envious of our commercial acumen and ability to ‘get ahead.’

So…here goes…. off to the meeting.

Our secret to this process is easy…prepare, prepare, prepare;

Applications graphic

  • Know the by-laws,
  • Comply with the approval process,
  • Provide all the detail….
  • Make what you plan to do clear…crystal clear….
  • Make it impossible for any reasonable person to object….and
  • Be super-reasonable, no matter what.

I am still learning that last one – patience is not my natural strength.

The meeting is due to start at 6.30pm, after work, but still a difficult time for us both. It’s at Potts Point and I head there from the Sydney CBD. Mitch is on the north-side of the bridge, at a symposium and must get across town in peak-hour traffic.

I get the train to Kings Cross station and walk through the Cross to the meeting, arriving just before it’s due to start.

Like so many of these meetings, there are only the committee members and a few owners who have applications for renovations. That’s it…no one else.

As I enter the meeting, Mitch sends a text…. he’s locked in traffic on the harbour bridge! Sydney traffic strikes again!

I usually rely on his marketing charm to win over the committees, while I provide the documents…we work as a team. Oh well, today I am going to have to try the charm!

The meeting starts, and I sit as an observer, with 3-4 other owners.

The formalities are done, and we get to the stuff that interest us…. the renovation approvals…

and Mitch arrives, whew…I don’t have to be the charming one! Yeeaahh.

BUT…

First, we have an owner with an ‘axe to grind’…they go on….and on….and on…. About the same thing. Even when they get an answer to their ‘gripe’ they keep going, until the committee shuts them down.

Then we have the first renovation application….

NOT OURS…

There’s an owner who wants to do some minor renovations, including changing some floor tiles. They’re told they need to pay a bond, to protect common property, and a fee for a by-law to be drafted. It’s normal process, nothing unusual.

From our experience this is standard, and the fees quoted are cheap! Amazingly reasonable…c’mon buddy, this is easy, just agree and let’s move on.

We’ve had lawyers draft by-laws before for us, and it costs us nearly triple the fees quoted.

But this owner doesn’t think so…and goes on, and on, and on, in circles, questioning why there must be a by-law, why a fee, why a bond…. He doesn’t realise how reasonable this committee is being. They’re getting annoyed with him. He needs to quite while he’s ahead.

While this is frustrating, it’s good for us. We have all our detail, we are familiar with these types of fees and happy to comply. It’s our chance to be ‘super-reasonable’ in comparison to this guy, and get our approval done….’nothing to see here’.

I took the opportunity to let this owner know that the Owners’ Corporation fees were extremely reasonable. I figure this will also help the committee be favourable to our application, remembering it’s a ‘double whammy’!

And it worked…I got approving nods and smiles…. they know from my comment that we’re experienced at this.

Finally, we get to our application.

The first comment…. there are lots of pages! …and then the Building Manager and Strata Manager both say the application is thorough, well presented, detailed and one of the best they’ve seen.

We’re on a winner. Remember the strategy…. make sure the details are clear and easy to understand.

It all seems good…. but there is one problem….

We’ve included a request to change the hinges of the balcony doors, enabling them to open and close flat against the external walls.

Maybe we’ve been over-confident….

The chairman turns to us……and says….

…he loves the idea,

He thinks it would save the owners corporation lots of money, as the doors frequently need repairing.

But…as its altering the external of the building the committee has no authority and we will need a General Meeting of owners to approve it. An AGM is not due for nearly 8 months.

Good to hear the idea was welcomed, but for us, we’re happy to delete this to get these renovations going.

We can always pay for a General Meeting if we want one sooner. We both agree to ditch this part of the reno and re-visit it later if we need.

We’re approved!

For both…ready to go.

We have the committee on side, and the building manager…who looks across at us and says she really enjoyed watching us on the renovation show…we have good PR! It helps.

All this reviewed and approved by the committee in about 5 minutes! Job done, strategy a winner….and now the work begins!

 

Mark

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