What’s the difference between survey strata and built strata?


Strata titles are common in Western Australia, particularly for specific types of dwelling stock, such as villas and apartments. But what’s the difference between survey strata and built strata?

Strata titles allow buyers to gain ownership of part of a property but share ownership of other areas of that complex.

Property types that are often strata titled include duplexes, villas, townhouses and apartments, and you’ll often hear that they’re either survey strata or built strata.

Quite simply, survey strata is surveyed by a licensed land surveyor and the land boundaries are shown as survey marks on the survey-strata plan – this does not define any buildings.

Built strata is the original form of the strata scheme and typically comes in 2 forms – those established prior to June 30, 1985, and those established after.

Prior to this date, built strata lots could only be within a building (i.e. ownership was only for everything inside the dwelling). However after this date, part of the lot could also be the land outside the building and may also include the building structure. (i.e. the exterior of the building including external walls)

As an investor considering buying a strata-titled property, it’s crucial to read and understand the strata plan.

The strata plan provides lot ownership information and relevant by-laws that set out what you can and can’t do with the property, as well as what you technically own.

For example, when buying a built-strata unit, do you own the associated car park and/or courtyard? The answer to this will have implications on insurance, maintenance (i.e. who’s responsible for these areas) and permission to alter exterior surfaces of buildings etc.

By-laws will vary from complex to complex but could include:

  • Lot owners can’t amend the exterior of the property (e.g. solar panels, Foxtel dishes, roller shutters, tinting windows etc)
  • Floor tiling is not allowed
  • Pools and spas in common areas only allowed for those 16 years or older
  • Lot owners may not reallocate their car bays
  • No clotheslines on balconies

These are just a few of some of the possible by-laws set out in a strata plan.

Before buying a property it’s best to always refer to the strata plan yourself.

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