Reclad or rebuild

Question from Meredith updated on 15th February 2015:

Hello, I own a stand alone townhouse, with three others in the block. Under the new body corporate rules we have set up the basics in regards to having an annual meeting and paying levies to cover the common areas, so as to have an operating body corporate. My house is in a bad state of repair and the options are to reclad or rebuild. The other houses aren't as bad as mine however will need some work done in the future. There are no written rules with my neighbours of what I can and can't do. How can I find this out without talking to the other owners? I am guessing there must be default rules of some sort? One owner is the self-appointed boss and will block anything, so I wanted to find out the facts before approaching the other owners. If I was to reclad would I be allowed to use a different type of recladding than the other houses? Thanks for any advice offered.

Our expert Krister Samuel responded:

The plan to fix up your property is definitely worth pursuing before deterioration leads to further cost. Once the work has been done you will enjoy a significant increase in the market value of your property.  Buyers will pay a premium for property which is in a good state of repair. Sounds obvious I know. Unfortunately, you can’t do major structural works without consulting the other members of the body corporate. Your body corporate is on the right track by implementing maintenance plans and defining rules etc, so while you are on a role now is probably the best time to suggest the adoption of rules that help with your plans to renovate. There are template body corporate rules available on the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment's website. Check them out. If your neighbours refuse to allow the work after discussing with them, I would initiate mediation through your lawyer. Given the townhouses are freestanding and in the absence of any rules (I suspect there were original body corporate rules so you may have to go looking for them) you may be able to reclad using different materials. But in the interests of aesthetics I would advise against it. If you have any further queries feel free to contact me directly. 

Krister is ranked in the top 1% of all real estate agents nationwide and specialises in the high yielding Auckland apartment market. He is happy to share insights and information on any aspect from an extensive knowledge base built up over a decade.

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