If You Belong to a Homeowners Association, Get Approval Before You Renovate Your House
If you’re a member of a homeowners association (HOA), you have to adhere to a set of rules, known as covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs), that govern what you may and may not do with your property. If you’re thinking about renovating your home, make sure that you submit your plans to the HOA and get approval before any work begins.
Read the HOA’s Rules Carefully You should have received a copy of the CC&Rs before you moved in, but you should request the most recent version. Review it carefully and note any sections that pertain to renovations.
Make sure that you understand what is and is not allowed. If you have any doubts about whether your planned renovations are permissible, contact the HOA board directly and ask specific questions.
The HOA will likely require you to submit one or more forms detailing your proposed project. The rules may state that the contractor must secure permits or they may say that is the homeowner’s responsibility.
The HOA will review the documentation you provide and decide whether to approve or reject your proposed renovations. It may approve some aspects of your plans but require you to make some changes to adhere to the guidelines.
Make Sure Your Contractor Understands the HOA’s Rules Some contractors have completed numerous projects in homes that belong to HOAs and understand the importance of carefully reviewing and following the rules. Others have little or no experience working on HOA properties or don’t always take the restrictions as seriously as they should.
When you’re interviewing contractors and getting estimates, ask about their experience working with HOAs. Give your contractor a copy of the most up-to-date version of the CC&Rs and discuss specific restrictions that apply to your planned project and how you can adhere to them. For instance, the HOA rules may limit the types of changes you’re allowed to make to your home’s interior and exterior, which materials and colors may be used, the hours when work may be performed, where trash may be disposed of and other issues.
Verify that the contractor you hire is licensed and insured. The HOA may reject your proposal if the contractor doesn’t meet those requirements.
What Can Happen if You Don’t Get Approval First? Don’t skip the approval process, go ahead with renovations and assume that things will be fine. If you make that assumption and turn out to be wrong, you may face a steep financial penalty.
If the HOA doesn’t approve your plans, your contractor may make changes that violate the rules. You may have to pay a fine or you be forced to stop the project completely and pay the contractor to change the property back to the way it was before the renovations began.
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