Many homeowners belong to homeowners associations (HOAs) that charge fees and set standards and rules for the community. They provide group amenities, keep the neighborhood or complex uniform looking and attractive, and help maintain property values.
You still own your home, but belonging to an HOA involves a tradeoff — sacrificing some rights to enjoy the community’s benefits. That means before you change your home’s exterior, you need to check the HOA’s rules.
Below, we’ll discuss four home improvements that often require an HOA’s approval.
1. Updating Your Siding
Replacing or updating your home’s siding is crucial to maintaining its appearance and structural integrity. Severe weather may damage the siding on your home, leaving it vulnerable to the elements. If your siding is damaged, you’ll need to replace it right away to prevent additional harm to insulation and waterproof layers.
While you might want to take the opportunity to change the siding to stone or brick if you’re replacing it, your HOA must approve the change. Usually, the HOA board will direct you to a preapproved material and color. For example, some HOAs won’t let you use the same color and style as your next-door neighbor. Before starting any siding replacement project, read through your HOA guidelines to understand the approved materials, colors, and any other important rules.
Read more about the basics of siding here.
2. Building an Addition
Building an extra room is a great idea if you need more space but don’t want to move. If you’ve outgrown your house or condo, you may want to add a sunroom, bathroom, or bedroom. But you need the HOA’s permission before you can think of adding on.
Even if your HOA approves the change, always check local building codes for any site review or permits that may be required. Failing to get proper permits or follow regulations can lead to fines, delays, and other headaches.
3. Replacing Your Roof
Every few decades you need to replace the roof on your home due to its age or severe storm damage. Many roofing material options are available — from asphalt shingles to metal and rubber.
Do you want attractive metal roofing on your home or condo? Check first with your HOA to understand what’s allowed and what isn’t when it comes to roof replacements. You may have to use certain materials, colors, or designs to avoid an HOA violation. While metal is more durable than other roofing materials, the HOA may still want you to use asphalt shingles to match the community’s other homes.
By understanding the guidelines, you can confidently replace the roof without having to worry about tearing it down and starting over again if the HOA disapproves.
4. Installing a Swimming Pool
Pools provide enjoyment and relaxation — especially on extremely hot summer days. They can also also improve your health, both mentally and physically, through water therapy. These reasons might lead you to want to install a private hot tub or swimming pool on your property.
Despite the health benefits, your HOA may not allow you to install a pool, or it might have guidelines you must follow. Failing to follow the rules can lead to fines or even eviction.
So, before making plans, carefully review your HOA guidelines regarding pools, hot tubs, and similar installations. Determining what’s allowed, prohibited, or requires special approval prevents problems down the road and allows you to enjoy your home within the regulations of the HOA.
Get the Book
If you don’t have a copy of your homeowners association’s guidelines, visit its website to print a copy or stop by the office to pick one up.
Read it carefully so you know the rules, and if you don’t understand something, get clarification from the HOA’s management. Better yet, attend your HOA’s quarterly or annual board meetings to stay informed about the latest changes in fees and rules. That way, you’ll always be in the loop.
So, Is Checking with Your HOA Before Doing Home Improvements Worth It?
Checking with your HOA before doing exterior home improvements is absolutely worth it. The HOA guidelines exist to maintain community standards. Failing to follow them can lead to fines, delays, and other costly issues.
While rules may sometimes feel restrictive, they help ensure homes are uniform, property values remain strong, and residents can enjoy shared amenities. By understanding and following HOA rules from the start of any project, you avoid headaches later.
Attending HOA meetings and reading the latest guidelines keep you informed. Knowing the rules ahead of major home projects gives you confidence to move forward. So even if the process feels tedious, always check with your HOA first. Avoiding problems down the line is worth the extra effort.
FAQs About HOA Rules and Home Improvements
Do I need HOA approval to paint my home’s exterior?
Yes. In most cases, exterior paint colors and schemes need HOA approval, even if you’re repainting in the same color. Check your guidelines to understand the process and any preferred color palettes.
Read more about painting techniques and tools here.
What if my roof is damaged — can I replace it without HOA permission?
Typically not. Even for emergency repairs, you still need HOA approval on the roofing material type, color, contractor, and other aspects of the work. Review your guidelines for the exact process. Time is critical for emergency repairs, so act fast once damage occurs.
What are common HOA violation fines?
Fines vary widely by HOA but often start around $25 for a first violation and rise from there. Some HOAs charge a daily fine until you address a violation. Severe or repeat issues may even pose the risk of eviction.
Some states have laws against excessive fines. For example, an HOA can’t charge a fine of more than $100 in North Carolina.
Can an HOA deny my improvement plans?
Yes, HOAs can deny plans that don’t meet guidelines. But you can appeal or modify plans to gain approval. Talk to your HOA board if a request is denied.
How long does HOA approval take?
Timeframes vary based on project complexity but often take two to eight weeks. Check your HOA guidelines so you can plan accordingly. Communicate early if you’re on a tight timeline.