Sunday, September 30, 2012

Those Pesky Rules

A home is your castle, right? It's your very own real estate and private property in these United States is sacred. You can paint it, remodel it, and drape the ceiling a different color... pretty much anything, right? Usually. If you live on acreage out in the country somewhere you can put in a ferries wheel in your backyard and choose to paint your entire home a bright orange if you so choose. But most neighborhoods have rules.

Depending upon where you live those rules may be implemented by a city ordinance or written and enforced by the homeowners association in which you live. A city ordinance will typically define setback and impervious cover restrictions. A setback requirement means how close to your property lines your structures may be. Impervious cover means how much of your property can be permanently covered by your home, sidewalks or driveways.

In a homeowners association, or HOA, those rules can be whatever the HOA and its members agree upon. Those rules can be rather lazy or they can be rather strict. It depends upon your interoperation.

Such rules are put in place in order to maintain a consistent neighborhood look and feel and help to maintain property values. For example, you spend a lot of time on your favorite hobby, maintaining your meticulously cared-for lawn. It's beautiful and you even won "yard of the month" last year. But your neighbor has just pulled a pickup truck and a tow-truck and parked them both on their front lawn. Just a few feet away from your begonias. Would you be happy about that? Of course not.

But HOA guidelines will typically ban such a parking travesty and say so in the HOA rules. Other HOA guidelines can require your lawn to be a certain height or restrict the type of fa├žade that decorates your home. Do you want to color your door a fluorescent pink? Check with your HOA as many associations limit colors to a certain few.

And while your home may indeed be your castle, you'll still need to follow some basic rules. Before you remodel, paint or build... check to make sure you're in the right.

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