Cheryl Phelan's Blog
For a homeowner who wants to make green improvements and renovations to their personal property, the Conditions, Covenants & Restrictions, or CC&Rs, of the local homeowner association can pose problems that cost time, money and freedom of choice. This is especially true for homeowners who wish to make structural or aesthetic changes to existing homes. Here are only a few of the battles you might face when the local HOA discovers your plans for going green in a traditional or historic neighborhood.
Your Planned Solar Panels Aren't Warming Anyone's Hearts
While some HOAs may interfere with your choice of color of solar panels, others may not permit them at all. It's an aesthetic dilemma. Allowing solar panels on one home differentiates it from the others. In a community that's built upon history or tradition, individuality is rarely a good thing. If you're thinking of adding solar panels to a home that's governed by an HOA, you may be forced to buy certain-colored panels, or you may be banned from adding them at all. Consider this before buying a home, if you plan to make green upgrades in an area that features a homeowner association.
Your Energy Efficient Windows Are Getting a Cold Reception
Windows that feature double-paned glass or visible solar tints may get you in hot water with your HOA. Changing out historic windows and doors for more energy-efficient versions should be advantageous, right? Not if doing so sets your home apart from your neighbors or your condo unit apart from the rest of the building. If you want those new, modern windows that lower the cost of your energy bill over time, and you live in a home regulated by an HOA, prepare to fight for your right for window replacement.
Your New Cool Metal Roof Is Being Hotly Debated
Cool metal roofing is all the rage for homeowners who live in dramatic climates. Cooler in summer and warmer in winter, they'd be a big improvement over those old cedar shakes your home is currently rocking. But you'll probably never experience the convenience of cool metal if you live in an historic area where cedar shakes abound. While your HOA can't prevent you from repairing or replacing a failing roof, they can legally limit the materials you use to do it.
While homeowner associations do a lot for the communities they serve, they can cause consternation to those homeowners who place value on energy efficiency above historic appeal. If you're planning to buy or renovate a home that's regulated by the CC&Rs of the local HOA, make sure you completely understand the limitations they impose before you buy. Once in, you're bound by the rules you agreed to follow, even if it means sacrificing energy efficiency in lieu of tradition.