Ways to Make Home Construction in Your HOA Less Stressful

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Ways to Make Home Construction in Your HOA Less Stressful

Completing a home construction project is logistically challenging and expensive. It can become an even larger headache when you also have to answer to the rules and regulations established by your homeowners’ association. Nearly every aspect of a building project from aesthetics and landscaping to architecture and structural changes need to be reviewed and approved, or you run the risk of steep fines. Read more about how homeowners’ associations function and learn how to plan ahead as you prepare for your HOA remodelling project.

What is a Homeowners’ Association?

Homeowners’ associations, also known as property owner associations (HOAs and POAs) are private nonprofit groups. Governed by homeowners in a specific housing subdivision, building, or other areas that oversee various aspects of management and construction. In an area overseen by an HOA, property owners are required to pay yearly dues to the association. In exchange, owners receive benefits like maintenance and management services. Access to communal amenities like pools, fitness centres and or private parks. They’re also provided insurance coverage and community aesthetic and guideline enforcement.

First established in the mid-19th century, HOAs did not come into prominence in America until the 1980s. Associations hold yearly elections to populate different positions which govern a wide variety of aspects of community standards and rules known as covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&R’s). HOAs answer to state laws, which vary from areas of great oversight like Florida and California to those of very little oversight like Massachusetts.

HOA Rules Apply Inside and Outside Your Home

Homeowners’ associations enjoy a great amount of rulemaking power over the communities they govern, and their CC&R’s can apply to the front yard and facade, backyard and/or the interior of your home. Regulations could include; what colours you can paint your house, how tall your grass can grow, whether you can add or remove trees and other landscaping, fence height and much more.

Aesthetic, landscaping and architectural rules vary greatly between different HOAs. Depending on the building/community size, how engaged the association is with the community it governs and many other factors. It is of great import to learn about the different rules and ongoing debates at HOA meetings to know if the CC&R will impact whatever part of your home you hope to remodel.

Start Your Construction Project on the Right Foot

Maintaining a constant line of communication between homeowners, HOAs and construction contractors will ensure a smooth transition from planning to completion. An important first step of the approval process is to submit any required paperwork specific to your HOA. Like a Request for Proposals (RFP). The HOA is responsible for paying city or county permit fees.  Construction contractors will need however to apply for those permits individually.

You can prevent conflict or confusion around your home construction project before you begin. By creating and submitting detailed plans to your HOA. Most associations include an architectural or construction committee charged with reviewing and approving private projects in the community. Always err on the side of including more information as opposed to less. Take whatever feedback you receive to heart. Including restrictions on when construction can be done (most often between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm on weekdays). The timeline of your project, how to dispose of waste and other related issues.

What Happens If You Ignore the Rules?

Everyone has heard horror stories about homeowners’ associations and individuals battling over all kinds of trivial housing details. It does not have to be that way. Be proactive and avoid conflict by clearly communicating your goals instead of charging head first into a project.

Ask questions when things are not clear, and don’t be afraid to push back in reasonable ways. Most homeowners’ associations have a formal process of requesting an exception to different rules. Doing so will always pan out better than flouting them.

HOAs can and will levy expensive fines, place a lien on your home, or even sue you if you decide not to abide by their CC&R’s. Small claims courts do not often rule favourably for homeowners in such cases. Contrary to other situations in life, home construction projects overseen by an HOA are absolutely a time to ask for permission, not forgiveness.

Change the Rules from the Inside: Become Involved in Your HOA

Your homeowner’s association maintains community standards with the goal of resolving conflicts between neighbours. By setting clear expectations and offering an objective oversight board to resolve them if they should arise. In turn, the uniformity and cleanliness of the community will increase property values and community satisfaction.

But, like any other governing body, HOAs run the risk of becoming overzealous and passing too many rules. Or becoming disaffected and not holding community members up to a reasonable standard. It is up to the community members in each HOA to maintain their version of the perfect balance between rules and freedoms to make their community function in harmony.

The most direct way to shape your HOA into a governing body that reflects your wants and needs is to become an active member. Show up to meetings, run for office and petition to change rules within the confines of the system. If you make your concerns known and engage in the process. You’ll find that you won’t have to worry about your HOA coming between you and any construction or remodelling projects you hope to complete.

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