Updating an older strata building

It makes sense to upgrade an older building to improve the value for residents. These five tips will have a complex looking more 2020 than 1990.

With so many new developments being flung up around our capital cities (and beyond), it can be difficult for older strata complexes to compete when it comes to attracting buyers and tenants.

Modern apartments have the internal laundries, clever storage solutions and communal areas older buildings tend to lack. However, if you are in charge of a more dated complex, there are upgrades you can make which will have the premises looking more fresh and inviting.

1 Paint

Practical and inexpensive (relatively speaking), an external coat of paint can bring a building up to date. Getting rid of the tell-tale pastel highlights of the 80s and 90s and replacing them with more contemporary tones will instantly make a building appear more modern.

The problem with contemporary tones is they date as well! However, a regular plan to upgrade paint colours which is agreed on by the Owners Corporation will give the building an affordable upgrade every few years.

2 Landscaping / Planting

The outdoor areas of your building can age more quickly than interiors because of exposure to the elements.

Crumbling walls, flaky fence paint and shabby parking areas are a giveaway of a building in need of a refresh. Fortunately this can be another cost effective area to refresh.

New hedges or fencing which match those of newer developments in the area demonstrate a block is up with the times. Fresh paint and brand new signs to replace the faded ones in parking areas provide a good impression for first time visitors, particularly if they are arriving to inspect an apartment. Another factor to consider is paths around the building. Replace worn walkways and uneven brick or stonework with smooth surfaces to make access easier for residents and their guests.

Plant trends change with the times as well. Take a look at what is popular on other properties and talk to a landscaper about what will suit your complex before making changes to greenery around common areas.

3 Cladding and balconies

Cladding can be an expensive upgrade but will instantly transform an old-fashioned block into a more modern facility. This can have environmental and safety benefits by improving the insulation and fire-resistance of a building.

A balcony update can also deliver a new lease of life. Stripping back old concrete balconies and replacing them with modern glass provides more natural light for residents and gives a block an instant and hugely impressive facelift.

4 Fittings and security

Dated light covers in communal stairwells make a building look tired and old. Fortunately, this is a small expense to rectify. Upgrading door handles, light switches and even common doors themselves are another cost-effective way to improve a building’s looks.

Security is another factor people are seeking when looking for a place to rent or buy. Fitting an older building with better security and intercoms has the potential to make a difference to the overall value of the apartments inside.

5 Add modern features

Common areas like picnic areas, vegetable patches and even Men's Sheds are increasingly popular in new developments.

Upgrading your apartment block depends on the space you have available but there may be areas which can be repurposed. An area of green space, for example, can have a pergola and bbq added for residents to enjoy.

Managing costs and approvals

If you had free range and limited funds there is no end to the ways you can upgrade a strata building. Unfortunately, the decisions and the budget aren’t completely up to you.

It is in your interests as strata manager to improve the value of a building. To get owner buy-in and approval from the strata committee, you must prove the changes are worth it. Do some research into the return on investment of spending strata money and come up with a five to ten year plan which will see regular upgrades made around the building.

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