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You can’t take out structural walls or ducts as this affects others in the building and is also common property.

When renovating your apartment, you can’t add extra rooms. You also can’t affect the structure of the building as they are there for safety areas and support the whole building. You also can’t remove ducts as

Aesthetically from the outside you can’t change the look of the building by painting the deck, changing the decking and so on.

You may be able to make changes if there is a lot of room but resource consent and owners committee approval is required prior to the change being made.

If changes are being made – the building manager must know and hours of work must be completed from Monday to Friday so as not to disturb others.


Good day, Andrew May here from the Apartment Specialists. You want to renovate your apartment. What can’t you do?

Now, very quickly, you cannot add extra rooms. For example, you cannot add rooms and what I mean by that is what people are going to sleep in. Adding more people to the apartment. You cannot take a one bedroom and turn it into a two bedroom.

Number two, you cannot affect the structure of the building. For example, affect others’ safety and that an obvious one. Taking out concrete walls and pillars. These structural elements, especially the pillars are actually common areas. You don’t own them and It might be in the middle of your apartment, but it doesn’t belong to you. You can’t touch that because it’s actually supporting the whole building.

Number three, you cannot take out ducts. These are columns which have wiring going through or airflow. Why? Because it affects others and you don’t actually own it, even though, it’s in the space of your apartment.

Number four, you cannot aesthetically affect the appearance of the building. You cannot paint your deck pink if your building is grey. Basically,  you can’t affect others negatively in any way. If you think you are or could be, that means you need the owner’s committee approval. Which means you take the plans of what you want to do to the owner’s committee and ask for their approval first.

You could be able to take out that structural wall, but you will need a structural engineer to prove that you want to renovate is not structural. You may be able to turn your one bedroom into a two bedroom because it’s very large, but you will need the owner’s committee approval. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it. It just means you need approval and there’s a possibility you can’t.

If you are going to buy an apartment, or where you have intentions to do modifications that are along these lines, make sure you get the owners committee’s approval before going unconditional.

Now, the last one, is when you are doing any renovations. Always make sure you alert the building manager so they know what’s happening in their own building.

Also, make sure you are doing any work between work hours. That is generally 8:00 in the morning to 5:00-5:30 at night and Monday to Friday. Why? Because, if you are going outside those hours, you will be affecting others and generally that is why Saturdays and Sundays are days, you probably would want to avoid. Obviously, you can ask your neighbours in your complex if that is okay if you need to change that.

I hope that helps. Andrew Murray, Apartment Specialists.


Apartment Specialists Podcast No: 113


In this podcast, Andrew Murray will discuss the administration of body corporate. What are the responsibilities of the companies that run them? He will also share his insights on why an owner’s committee often employs a company to administer the body corporate. All these and more from this video.


Running of a body corporate or what’s often called the administration of the body corporate. As an owner of an apartment, you automatically become part of body corporate. The body corporate then employs a company to run the administration of the body corporate. Basically, they do everything the owners decide or the owner’s committee with the chairman decide on  what’s best for the complex or building or the apartments, then put that into action. This is where you hear about your Body Corporate Admin, your Crockers, your Strata and your First Street; those kinds of things. As you are looking at apartments, or looking for apartments, you will come across more of these different types of companies.

In basic terms, if you put it in a sentence, they are in charge of taking care of the administrative functions on behalf on the body corporate, the chairperson and the owner’s committee. Okay, I’m just going to talk about some of the key responsibilities.

They maintain a register of owners.  That means you have got all those little details on file so you can be contacted. Because you often have many of the owners live in different apartment complex. This is very important as well as is distributing information about what’s happening in the building. Taking the minutes at each general meeting, so annual general meeting which happens every 12 months or 15 months by law.

Keeping financial accounts. That’s where your balance sheets come in and all that kind of thing. This is where owners can look at their body corporate and see how healthy they are. If they have got enough money in the to pay for X, Y, Z expenses and it’s going to happen next year, or things like that.

Now, it is the same thing on committee reports to owners. These reports on what’s happening in the building, what decisions have been made, and all that kind of thing. Also, for appearing and sending out resolutions for agreement by mail and notifying unit owners or partners of results. This is when decisions are made and you may have a decision that needs to be made that is, “Okay, should we make this decision on this term of action when it comes to repairing something.”

They may decide for some reason to go to postal vote, so they get sent out to all the owners. Big information, I vote. This will give option A, B, and C, I vote C, send it back and things like that. They are also in charge of,  basically the original insurance evaluations, quotations, basing insurance in the system claims of apartment owners or complexes as a whole. This is very important because insurance is probably the biggest ticket item. I mean, it’s the biggest expense of the body corporate and of all the owners. So, that’s insurance for, required for fire, and all things like that.

They also need to tend to the, basically, general correspondence or communication with owners. Often, owners will deal with body corporate when they are selling. Obviously, when someone’s buying and becoming a new owner. General queries or questions they may have or any complaints if there are any, things like that. And also are expected to give general advice, expert advice to the committee and to the owners on the management, on how to manage a body corporate, which is down to things like maintenance plan, what’s called your LTMP and how to best address that.

What a body corporate does is, they are again in charge of the administration of the body corporate, which is doing all the bidding. I suppose, of all the owners, and they will charge a fee for that. And generally it’s a fee per unit. It ranges across the board from around about $150 to around $300 per unit. But that all changes because every complex is different, every demographic of complex is different, depending if it’s a lease on building or a rent on building, that kind of thing.

I won’t go into too much depth there, but hopefully it helps you understand firstly, because i.e. as an owner, you are the body corporate. What are these companies involved, we see these logos on the minutes and to just hit home that these companies aren’t your body corporate. The owners are and these companies do what the owners tell them and maintain and provide all the services. I just mentioned this. I hope that really helps you understand a little bit more about departments, unit and body corporate. I will talk next about as an owner and what’s expected from you?

Okay, thank you. Cheers!


The earthquake rating is based around an IEP assessment by the council which are done off the plans, not looking at the actual building. This means they are often not accurate.

As a Body Corporate you can potentially change your rating which will therefore raise the value of your property.

This can be done by employing a private party to conduct an IEP. This does come at a cost of around $2000 but it means the engineer comes and physically looks at the building and makes a far more accurate assessment. In some cases, it does come out higher, this works in your favour in terms of values of the property.

The final step you can take, does come at a considerable cost but it is where an engineer takes a further look and looks at the materials of the building by drilling and a number of other procedures to see how strong the building is. This is not usually necessary but may be in certain situations.


Good day!  Andrew Murray from the Apartment Specialists, on raising your earthquake rating. Now you’ve probably seen in the papers, quite a bit of publicity around character apartments and how the earthquake ratings are affecting their values, and a lot of owners are scared around this.

There’s a number of buildings around the CBD – I don’t really want to mention them – that are going below that 33 per cent threshold, where they have to be restrengthened. That’s a very expensive exercise. One example is obviously St James. It is at 28 percent. It is a stunning building, and to get those earthquake ratings up means a knock to the values. Currently, they’re being sold below their value because of this. So I wanted to talk to you today about what I did in my own building, and how I raised the earthquake rating in my own building.

Now I’m a chairman of the Regency Apartments. Obviously, I work with the owners’ committee here, and I meet with the Body Corporate secretary here, so that’s Paula Beaton from BCA, so I can’t take the credit myself.

But basically what we did is, earthquake ratings are based around what’s called an IEP, which is a Initial Evaluation Procedure, and that’s a brushstroke approach done by the council, where they don’t actually inspect the buildings individually. They look at the original plans. And these are often incorrect.

So what they do is they look at these plans and give a bit of an idea. And they put a rating on it. These ratings are done in a longitude and latitude way. So they’ll have a rating, let’s say we got the Regency for example. It was around about 66 percent longitude. So if there’s an earthquake, going up and down, it had a 66 per cent strength, which is great.

But then the latitude, because it’s old, and it’s where these character apartments often fall – so as in not fall, but fall down. So the earthquake rating was only 35 per cent. Now so that means the IEP rating, or earthquake rating, falls on the lower of two. So it came out as 35.

Now yes, that just scraped through past that 34 per cent mark, which is, you know, the pass mark. But that’s still quite close so it does affect a purchaser’s opinions on what they’ll pay for the apartment .So what we did, is we looked at getting another IEP rating. That’s when you get an engineer in. It will costs you a couple of thousand dollars. They’ll come in and actually assess your building, and actually find out what the IEP rating really is.

So what we did is, we got another engineer in, an independent engineer, to do an inspection of the building. An inspection of  how it was constructed, and actually really really look into closely the strength of that building. And we had a very positive report that came out, showing that the plans that were in the council did not actually reflect how strong the building was. And that came out at 55 per cent, which is fantastic, because that lifts the ratings. And it lifts the value of the building. Being an owner, it was fantastic.

So when you’re dealing with a building, and if you are looking at purchasing a building or you own in a building which has an IEP rating or earthquake rating which is low, talk to your body corporate. Talk to your owner’s committee. Talk to your body corporate secretary and have a chat about getting another IEP opinion.

So get another engineer, to do an independent report, and yes it could come back at the same amount, but it also could come back a lot higher. So before you start thinking, Oh I’m stuck with an apartment with a bad earthquake rating, make sure you go down that avenue.

Now, if that fails, then you can go into– and you still believe that it could be stronger, you then go into a DEE, which’s is a detailed evaluation. That is done by an engineer and that’s very expensive. So that’s when they actually go into, they actually drill holes and look at what kind of steel was involved and all that kind of thing.

A recent one was done in the Wiltshire, which it came in where the earthquake rating was very very low, so, I think by memory, don’t quote me on this, about 23 per cent, and then they got a DEE, so a detailed evaluation, and that came in, by memory, at around 83 per cent. So it shows you that these earthquake ratings aren’t set in stone, and the initial ones that are given by the council are just a brushstroke approach. There are options here to see if you can lift that, and just lift the values of your apartments, with the apartment you own, and the value of the whole building, basically.

So feel free to give me a ring on 021 424892. 021 424892, or andrew@apartmentspecialists.co.nz, if this concerns you and you’d like to have a conversation about it, because yeah, it’s all not lost and there’s some hope out there.

So anyway, hope that helps.

Cheers, thank you.


The owner’s committee is more important than the Body Corporate, it is one of the most important aspects of an apartment building.

The owner’s committee is comparative to a board or group of directors who direct the future of the building and keep the Body Corporate honest.

Within a committee there is a chairman, this person’s role is more like a facilitator rather than a director.

There is a nominated secretary who deals with all the income and expenditure.

Then there is the building manager, who may or may not be in the committee but we think it is important they are due to being in the building and in know of what is happening all the time.

Someone has the responsibility of keeping the minutes and then communicating these to everyone in the correct manner.

The owner’s committee deals with all concerned in your building and it not a small task. It is job that needs to be done to high standard with efficiently and sound communication.


Good day, Andrew Murray from the Apartment Specialists.  Today I’m talking about Owners’ Committees and how important they are.

Now, an Owners Committee is more important than the body corporate company. It’s one of the most important parts of a building. It’s like having a board on a company or a C.E.O. It’s what actually directs the building into the future and it’s what keeps the body corporate honest.

Now the known key aspects to do with an Owners’ Committee that needs to be occurring very efficiently and to be covered to be able to run a building very well. It’s very, very important.

Obviously, first of all, is the obvious one, you have a Chairman. The Chairman isn’t like the boss. He’s the facilitator. They run the meetings. They are making sure that everybody’s gelling and that there’s, basically everybody has their say. They are making sure you get through your agenda and everything is communicated properly, and everybody’s doing – He’s overseeing the whole process.

Number two, you obviously have your body corporate secretary. Now that’s whoever your body corporate is, whether it’s body corporate admin, whether it’s Australia, whether it Crocker’s, whoever it is, the point of the company is actually an administrative role. So they’re dealing with the income and the expenditure.

Then you have the Building Manager. Now a lot of Owner’s Committees don’t have the Building Manager there and I think that is incorrect. I think a Building Manager should always be at the Owners’ Committee meeting. Why? Because they’re the ground floor. They can tell you what’s happening.

A lot of people in the Owners Committee’s who don’t live in the building or if it’s an investor building, how do they know actually what’s happening day to day? It’s very important the Building Manager is there so they can give their feedback and actually talk about what’s happening. What contract is coming in, what contract is coming out, what problem’s they’re having.

The next is having a person in charge of the accounts. This is where you’ve got to choose from your Owners’ Committee members, who is best suited for certain roles. In a perfect world it would be great to have an accountant on your Owners Committee but we can’t all have accountants on Owners’ Committees or accountants living in our buildings who are willing to give up the time. It’s really important that someone is in charge of accounts and is looking over the whole administration of their current expenditure. What’s going in and out and making sure everybody’s on the same path.

The next is somebody who is keeping the minutes, if they’re body corporate’s, but more importantly checking them and making sure that what is being said, is communicated properly in those minutes. It’s very easy for words to come across in the wrong way and come across, I suppose, giving a different message. It’s like we’re sending a text message. Sometimes you get a text message and if you think your friend’s angry with you when they didn’t mean that at all.

It’s just like that with body corporate minutes. They’re really, really important because they communicate a message. If you get that wrong that can lead to all kinds of things. For example someone thinking there’s a big issue with the building, when really there isn’t, and that kind of thing. It also means you’ve got a reference to go back to and say “This is the decision that was made. We all agreed on this and this is the terms of that decision.”

Okay the next one is operations. Because you’re going to have things that are happening within the building. You’re going to have– it’s basically a project management role. This is to say for example, if the lift needs to be refurbished, you’re going to have somebody in your Owners’ Committee who you’re going “Okay, you’re acting as a Project Manager, you’re in charge of that project and you run it and use other members to be able to do that kind of thing.” That’s also making sure the quotes are coming in, making sure the decisions are made if they happen by email. That’s where obviously your Building Manager– your Building Manager is actually in charge of the quotation process and should be doing all of that. Why? Because they’re on site and they can meet the contractors.

The next is communication. Now communication is very important. How are you supposed to know when your next meeting is? How are you communicating what the agenda is? Are the agendas coming out on time so everybody can actually read them before the Owners’ Committee meeting. What’s going to happen at the A.G.M? Who’s supposed to be doing what? Is everybody keeping to the deadlines? Communication of this is very important and generally now this is done via email, which is great. Occasionally phone calls need to be made and things like that.

You also need somebody who is in charge of the long term maintenance plan. It’s great if you have enough members so you can have one person who’s just in charge of that and give feedback to the committee and report on that because we’re looking at looking after the building, not for that year, not for two years, but for ten, 20 years in advance. That is directly related to the babies because you’re building it to be well looked after. And a long term maintenance plan that’s really working, it makes a huge difference to the building and any projects you want to do it to enhance the values.

The final one is building management. Now that’s an interesting one when I say that because you’ve got to build a manager but you need someone that oversees the overall bulk building management. Is actually reviewing the Building Manager, and looking at how the whole building management is done. This is down to, how good is the cleaners? How good is this contractor doing? How good is such and such?

That gives you an idea of what’s actually involved in an Owners’ Committee. It’s a lot more than just sitting around and talking about issues. It’s about working where everybody has an area that they are specialized in, so that the responsibilities are, I suppose, given out to the people that are skilled for them. Then everybody comes together where the Chair actually facilitates the whole meeting so this can all be brought together and the result is a building, that when it’s done well, that is run properly and very efficiently and keeps everybody happy.

Anyway I hope that helps. Cheers.