One of the common complaints about HOA communities is that there are restrictions on changes homeowners can make to their homes. For instance, there may be rules regarding paint colors, fencing, mailboxes, swing sets, and additions. Keep in mind that these regulations are not in place to stifle your creativity or keep you from enjoying your home to the fullest – they’re to help maintain property value and aesthetic appeal in the community.
If you’re thinking about updating your home, here are a few approaches to consider:
Read your governing documents. Look into exactly what is and isn’t allowed. This can give you a better idea about the types of changes you can make and what some of your options are. It also lets you know how to go about requesting approval for certain changes. For example, before installing a fence, many HOAs require you to notify your neighbors and ask for permission – but just because someone disagrees does not necessarily mean you can’t install it. Familiarize yourself with the rules.
Scope out the neighborhood. Check out what other homes in your neighborhood look like. It could give you new ideas for decorating that you hadn’t considered. And most likely these changes are permissible if other homes have them, but double check just in case.
Unsure? Ask! If there are changes that you want to make but can’t find a definitive answer about – ask the board! It’s better to have approval in writing ahead of time than to make assumptions and later discover that what you’re doing is in violation of your CC&Rs. The board may also be able to help you come up with feasible adjustments to your ideas that are still within regulations.
Compare your options. It is unlikely that the HOA only allows one color for siding or shutters, or one type of fence. Look at what is available and think about how it would fit your property. You may not be in love with your choices, but at least you have options and can change things up.
Make simple changes. Perhaps you can’t paint your door purple like you’ve always wanted, but you can still express yourself through the flowers you plant or colorful pillows on outdoor rockers. Look into decorative flags or other décor that can add personality to your home without violating the rules. And don’t forget – you have the entire inside of your house to decorate and paint as you wish.
If there is a rule that you have a hard time accepting, talk to the board about the rationale behind it. You can always do some research and bring up the idea of change. Work with your HOA and property manager to make the community an even more enjoyable place for all to live.