Love it or hate it, a Homeowners Association has a lot to say about what happens on your property. From telling you where to park your boat to weighing in on the color of your siding, it’s never pleasant to get a notice from the HOA expressing their displeasure about what’s going on at your place. You certainly don’t want to find yourself in conflict with the board of your HOA after you’ve finished construction on an awesome new steel building. Here’s a look at some of the issues you might encounter and how to increase the chances of getting what you want.
Some HOAs View Metal Buildings with Suspicion
Sad, but true. Homeowners Associations may be hung up on outdated notions of what makes a property attractive. Here’s an example: “Accessory buildings, including gazebos, should be constructed to complement the neighborhood and primary residence. Buildings should be located away from areas that are visible from the front of the home or the interior neighborhood roadways…Metal or aluminum buildings will NOT be approved.” Of course, this rule makes no sense, especially since they insist that the building must not be visible to passersby.
If the rules are explicit in prohibiting steel construction, it’s time to change the guidelines or get a written exception. That can be a long process. Fortunately, many HOAs don’t have any such restrictions. But that’s actually where things can get really tricky. Approval will be based on the personal aesthetic preferences of the board members. In that case, you’ll want to take plenty of example images with you to the board, showing what a well-made and attractive steel building looks like. That can help counter whatever image they may have in mind and clarify that the building will enhance the value and attractiveness of the property and the neighborhood.
Tips for Getting Approval from an HOA
One early step would be getting a permit from the city or county—even though they don’t have the final say. You could wait for HOA approval first, but moving forward with pulling a permit at least shows that your planned building will be up to code. It’s not a costly process, and having it done in advance will help you move forward without delay once the HOA signs off on your project. Here are the other steps:
- Read your HOA guidelines/rules thoroughly and identify all sections that could apply to your project. This includes restrictions on building sizes and materials.
- Talk to nearby property owners who have built accessory structures to discover whether rules are consistently enforced and get tips on the board’s inner workings. Gain support from other neighbors if you can.
- Find out who is in charge of approvals within the HOA. Ask their opinion informally and uncover any objections before submitting a request.
- Prepare your request with illustrative images (there are plenty available on our website). Include positive comments from neighbors, if possible.
- Follow up politely and consistently, documenting all correspondence.
- Get any decision in writing and ask for clarification and explanation if you receive an initial negative response.
Don’t give up if you get an initial “No.” Throughout the process, focus on the positive. Above all, please don’t make it personal! You have to make it OK for people to change their minds and come around to your side. And that only happens when you can keep the conversation friendly.
Isn’t It Better to Ask Forgiveness Than Permission?
Some HOAs are lax about enforcing the rules, but that can be an expensive gamble to take. One Jefferson County property owner reports that he spent about $13,000 for a slab and a steel building. But the total cost jumped to $65,000 with the legal fees for fighting his HOA in district court for two years! He won in court eventually since nothing in the covenant prohibited steel buildings, but the process must have been a nightmare.
Your steel building should be a dream come true. We are happy to work with you to design a building that meets the requirements of your HOA. Contact our team today for insights and assistance.