Apartment Layout Changes & Permission Requirements
Apartment living is becoming more and more popular in Ireland today especially with a growing population in more densely populated areas. Apartments are also a popular choice with first time buyers as they allow them to get on the market with a smaller property that fits their budget. Downsizers also love apartments due to their compact size and in general, their locations are in suburbs / convenient city locations and so on. So once in an apartment, dwellers might like to consider doing some apartment renovations or perhaps changes to the layout, so is that possible?
Do I need planning permission for work to an apartment I own?
In terms of any works proposed to the exterior of an apartment building, those would require planning permission. All apartments are managed by an owners management company (OMC). You can read more about buying an apartment in our guide.
Can you knock down internal walls in an apartment? / Can you change the layout of an apartment?
Non-structural works in an apartment are generally allowed as long as it doesn’t encompass intensifying the apartment’s use e.g. building on an additional bedroom. Adjusting the layout of an apartment is definitely something that you will need to inform your management company about in advance before proceeding as there could be repercussions for the rest of the apartment building that they would need to assess e.g. existence of load bearing walls or changing of fire doors and so on. Prior to that, you should read the terms and conditions in your lease as part of the title deeds that go with the property. This will have set out the covenants and conditions which you must abide by as an owner of one of the apartments in the development.
Can I change the windows or doors of my apartment?
Again, you will need to refer to the lease agreement within your apartment’s title deeds to see who is responsible for windows and doors. More often than not the window frames are actually owned by the individual apartment owners but any external changes to windows arecarried out in liaison with the management company. This is to ensure consistency in the external aesthetic of the apartment block. So in short, you can change the windows or doors in your apartment but first check your lease terms in the title deeds for clarity and then even if you are clear that they are owned by you, you should still inform the management company of your plans. This should be done in liaison with an experienced structural engineer who can guide you on the paperwork required also.
Apartment building walls are different to windows and doors in that for example, your front wall is also the wall to the apartments below you; your floor is someone else's ceiling; a wall can't be exclusively for your benefit. Whether your chosen windows require planning permission or not (separate to the permission sought from the management company) is something that would need to be clarified by the local planners. If the new windows are similar in terms of size and aesthetic and don’t require the opening for the window to be enlarged, then it’s unlikely new windows will require planning permission. Approach your local planning authority if you’re unsure about whether something requires planning permission or not.