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Subject: Architectural Changes
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11/06/2005 7:18 PM  
What can I do if I believe the Board has acted wrongly?

I am in a 53 unit HOA, built beginning 1987. I am an original owner, having bought 14 years ago. These are attached two-story townhouses, four to a group.

My Board refused my request to enlarge a second story balcony/deck by 3 feet to match the width of the my full-size deck below. I requested this as part of the entire complex upgrading their decks.

Owners with original decks who wished to enlarge them were asked by the Board to put in requests. I did all that, informing the Board by letter a year in advance. I am one of two owners who have small balcony-like decks. My house is in a line of three four-unit groups and I am the only one with a second story deck. The other owner with a balcony deck is in a lower part of the complex. This deck is original to my house, put in by the builder at my request.

More than half of the units in the complex have second story decks, mostly for the view facing the river.

In June I spoke to the Board President about my desire to enlarge the width of the deck. I was told by him that I needed to give them architectural plans that followed local building codes and the materials used on all the decks.

In mid-July I notified the Board in writing of my intent to contract with an architect for the plans they required. I asked them to let me know of any concerns, which they did not. At the end of August I proceeded with the architect at a cost of $600 and got on the village calendar to get approval for a building permit. I gave the Board the set of plans at the beginning of September. The village approved the plans in late September.

The Board contacted my neighbors who said they wanted me to add privacy panels. In late September they presented me with this and I agreed to that condition.

in October the Board then refused my request on the basis that it would negatively impact the appearance of the entire complex. The deck is in the back, invisible from any road, and in line sight of only 4 other houses. They say now I shouldn't have gone ahead and spent any money on plans without consulting them, too bad about the $600.

This is Catch-22. I feel very led on by the Board. Do I have any viable options? Can i sue them in small claims for the $600? I followed every rule, gave plenty of notice, both verbal and written. I just want 3 more feet on my deck!



11/08/2005 4:20 PM  
Unfortunately, Boards can do this. And I agree, it was not a decent way to act.I am not sure what recourse you have, but many attorneys offer free consultation so I would make a few calls. Sometimes a letter or a call from an attorney will change the attitude of your Board.

Also, do your covenants allow for appeal? Could you call a special meeting? I fidn it odd that you own this type of property, yet your deck is your responsibility. In most states where I have worked (I am a Realtor) the association is responsible.

Good Luck,


11/10/2005 11:26 AM  
Thank you for your answer. I really appreciate your suggestions.

The Association IS responsible for all exterior maintenance. Originally homeowners were responsible for decks but about 1995 the then Board took on the decks as part of the exterior maintenance.

In 2004, there was a plan to resurface the decks in Trex. A notice from the Board went out inviting owners with smaller original decks to speak to the contractor about expanding them at owners expense.

I gave the Board written and verbal notice about my intentions and plans in a timely fashion at all intervals along the way. However, at the end of this saga, the plain truth is that this Board simply does not want to make any changes that are too different from what was done originally.

I believe adding 3 feet to the width of my deck was not a major change, they believe it is a major change and adverse impact on the entire complex. This is despite the deck being invisible from the road and only in line sight of 4 neighbors who basically are OK with the change. However, as the Board, their belief trumps mine.

There is nothing in the policies about appeals or arbitration other than for common walls. It may be good to find an attorney to talk to but I believe the CCR policy regarding architectural changes leaves a lot of room for Board discretion. Two lawyers sit on the Board. I have a nuclear option which would only lead to litigation and there would be a lot of bad karma created.

I feel it is unrealistic of the Board to think that the overall property has to stay the way the developer first created it. Life and needs change over time.

Rather than go the legal/litigation route I am thinking of the following:
Step 1) Write an open letter to all homeowners. This is to take the temperature of homeowners regarding the issue of how to handle architectural changes as our association property ages and owners change.

If enough homeowners have the same feelings about the current policy, I can bring it up at the annual homeowners meeting as part of New Business. Then there may be enough impetus to amend the CCR or write a procedure into the rules and regulations manual.

Step 2) Wait for a new Board.

If you have any thoughts, I would really appreciate hearing them. I am trying to be as reasonable as possible despite feeling I have been treated unfairly.
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Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > Architectural Changes

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