The idea of extending a property is often a very attractive one, whether the intention of expansion was there from the outset or whether the need for more space grew over time. And while expanding might be a good investment, when it comes to extending a sectional title unit, there are a number of factors to consider.
The process to approval
The first step is to have plans for the proposed alterations drawn up by a qualified architect in order to ensure that the building complies with the appropriate regulations.
Once this step is completed, there is the question of gaining the necessary approval and permission. On any property, building plans need to be submitted and approval received from the local authority in order to extend the property. However, unlike a freehold property, when an individual wishes to extend a sectional title unit, approval must also be obtained from the body corporate. This would involve each individual owner within the sectional scheme giving consent for the proposed building alterations – if any owner objects, the extension may not proceed.
In addition to this, all bondholders with interests in the sectional scheme must be contacted and their approval obtained. This is because an alteration to one unit may affect the security that they hold due to a change in the property value.
Once all necessary steps have been taken, and if the necessary approval is received, the building can commence. This change will then need to be registered in the Deeds Office to ensure the sectional diagrams is accurately captured and recorded in the Deeds Registry, for which the assistance of a conveyancing attorney is required.
It is worth noting that, once complete, the alterations might have an effect on the costs associated with the individual sectional title unit (such as the monthly levies) as the participation quota is likely to have increased. The participation quota is based on the floor space of the individual unit within the sectional scheme, and is used to calculate the levies due.
The price of unapproved plans
However, should alterations be carried out without obtaining the necessary approval of the building plans, or without an application even being submitted, there can be significant consequences.
It is possible to have the plans approved retrospectively, and if successful, the extension may remain as it is. It’s also important to note that, in addition to the costs involved in drawing up the plans, there may be additional costs such as payment of historic levies based on the updated participation quota. If approval cannot be obtained, there may be penalties incurred or the owner may be required to return the property to its original state.
In the context of a sectional title scheme, alterations often only affect the interior of a sectional title unit, and in these cases it may only come to light during the process of a property transfer.
If this is the case, the transfer can be delayed until the issue has been resolved which can be problematic for all parties concerned.
To ensure the extension of a sectional title is as successful an endeavor as intended, it is thus crucial that the necessary steps are followed and that the appropriate professionals are consulted at the outset.
Written by Wessel de Kock