If your neighborhood is part of an HOA, making any changes to your home can be a confusing process. If your HOA is strict, there can be a lot of red tape involved in making those changes. Even something as simple as a paint job can be subject to the HOA’s approval process. To get anything new approved, you need to be familiar with how to follow the rules of the HOA. If you don’t understand the HOA’s approval process, it is easy to become frustrated quickly.
While every Homeowners’ Association is different, there are usually some property changes that are pre-approved in the association’s rules. Pre-approved property improvements are generally much simpler to implement than those that aren’t. However, it’s not impossible to make property changes that aren’t specifically outlined in existing HOA rules. Sometimes, it is even possible to make changes that are prohibited in the rules. You just have to understand the process for proposing changes to your property, and you also have to make your case to the board. If you’re proposing changes outside the rules, be prepared for a possibly long and involved approval process. Also, depending on how strict the board is, there’s no guarantee you’ll win approval to make the improvements you’re seeking. However, working within approved channels will give you a much better chance at success.
Propose Changes Within HOA Rules
If you want to make changes to your home, start by reading your Homeowner Association’s existing rules. Many HOAs have rules about home improvements outlined in the bylaws. The specific changes, along with any necessary approvals required will be detailed there. Some changes, such as planting a tree to replace a damaged one, might not require any approvals. Other changes, such as painting your home’s exterior, might only require approval if you are going outside a pre-authorized list. If you are going from one approved color to another approved color, you might not require any board involvement.
Even if a proposed change is allowed within the rules, you might have to submit to the board for approval. When submitting projects for approval, it’s important to follow the procedure outlined in your HOA rules. Respecting the HOA’s process will ensure goodwill and could speed the approval of your request. If the project is already allowed under the rules, getting approval to proceed should be straightforward. You’ll usually need to demonstrate that you understand the rules and your project fits within them. Once that has been established, you’ll be free to complete your project with no further issues.
Propose Changes Outside HOA Rules
If you want to make changes to your home that are against HOA rules, you’re in for a tougher process. In some cases, HOA boards can approve exceptions to existing rules. If you want to try for an exception, you’ll need to carefully review your HOA’s review process. Exceptions can take months or even years to move through the approval process.
Instead of requesting an exception to the rules, you could also try changing the rules. Changing HOA regulations can be difficult, though. The process of modifying an HOA rule depends on the type of rule that you want to change. Some rules can be changed by the HOA board. Other modifications require approval by a majority of homeowners.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to make a persuasive case. It can be costly and time consuming to update HOA rules. Be sure to clearly outline how the proposed change will benefit the community, not just yourself. Talk to your neighbors about it and gather as much support as you can on your own. Showing how the change will improve home values or the community will give you a better chance of success.
Depending on the change you want to make, the decision might not be solely up to the HOA. You might also have to deal with city or county building codes or regulations.
Making changes to your property through an HOA isn’t always easy. You’ll have to be committed and patient throughout the process. If you know the rules and follow the proper course of action, you are more likely to succeed. Even then, the proposal and approval process can take weeks or months.
The mission of an HOA is to protect the property values of the homeowners. Enforcing regulations for the homes in the HOA is one of the main ways that is done. HOAs are not dictatorships, though. They are subject to the will of the members in the HOA, as well as state and local law. So, approval can be easier if you are able to get other members on your side. Using logical arguments about property values and neighborhood appearance will be big benefits to your cause.
When considering proposed changes, the concern of the HOA should be how the changes will affect the area’s property values. The cost associated with making and enforcing the changes will also be relevant. HOAs are businesses, so the bottom line is always important. If you can show how a property change will benefit the HOA, it should be easier to get approval.