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Extension of a Section in a Sectional Title Scheme

Considerations before authorising the extension of a section

There are various considerations that a body corporate should make before authorising the extension of a section. Trustees are required to consider each application or proposal made by owners for alterations, additions, extensions, renovations or improvements, based on the merits of each request, before allowing or denying the request.

However, before consenting to the alterations, the body corporate requires proof that the local authority will approve of the building plans.

Trustees may also declare the extension as aesthetically displeasing or undesirable when viewed from the outside in terms of the Prescribed Conduct Rules (PCR).

Additionally, trustees need to consider whether the proposed alterations will complement the harmonious appearance of the building, in terms of the Prescribed Management Rules (PMR).

The section owner may not make any alterations that could impair the stability of the building in terms of the PMR. The trustees may require the owner to give full details of the proposed structural alterations, and obtain a certificate from a structural engineer stating that the alterations will not damage the stability of the building, or the free-flow of services through pipes, wires, cables or ducts.

Any alterations that involves the enclosure of an unenclosed area will affect the floor area ratio. Owners have to consider the effect approving a particular application for an extension will have on the other owners in the scheme who would want similar extensions or enclosures, as their rights to extend their section (as well as the rights of the body corporate to extend the scheme) will be negatively affected.

If the extension requires a change of use (for example: if an existing office block is now being used as a residential complex) the owner will have to obtain written consent from all the other owners in the scheme, in order to change the purpose for which the section is intended to be used. It is important that this consideration be done first, as the plans to renovate can be stopped by one owners refusal to consent.

Trustees need to consider that the alterations will result in additional section material and additional common property material. It is very important that it be made clear what areas will be the responsibility of the section owner and successors in title to the section, and what areas the body corporate will be responsible to repair and maintain.

Trustees may also place conditions on the approval for the alteration, and should require the applicant owner to agree to these conditions in writing. Such conditions may serve to ensure that:

  • The building works start within a specified period, that they are completed before a specified date, failing which penalties may be payable.
  • Work is limited to days and times that will not unduly disturb other residents.
  • Power tools only be used during specified periods of the day.
  • Rubble be removed regularly.
  • Toilet facilities be provided for workers.
  • The scheme infrastructure is not overused or unduly abused.
  • The body corporate’s inspector oversees the work to ensure that its interests are protected at the applicant owner’s cost.

It is not uncommon for applicants to be required to pay a deposit in order to secure compliance with these obligations, and to agree to pay additional contributions from a specified date, notwithstanding that the sectional plan of extension has not yet been registered.

Van Deventer and Van Deventer Incorporated

If you are need us to assist in drafting a special resolution authorising the extension of a section, contact Van Deventer and Van Deventer Incorporated.