Do you live in an Indianapolis neighborhood with an HOA? Many people do, approximately 1-4 Americans to be exact.  Living in a neighborhood that is part of a homeowner association has its perks. The associations help maintain the overall aesthetic of a neighborhood, increasing the profitability of the homes around it and most often have a swimming pool and other recreational activities to enjoy.

However, Indianapolis homeowners have to adhere to the sometimes strict regulations that are spelled out in HOA’s CC&Rs (covenants, conditions & restrictions). Therefore if you plan on moving to a home within an HOA, you need to be aware of not only the fees associated with the upkeep of the neighborhood but also the bylaws in which you will have to adhere to with maintaining your own home.

So, if you are planning to undertake a home renovation project such as house painting, you would need approval to ensure compliance with the community’s rules and regulations. HOA rules vary from one community to another, but there are basics every homeowner should get familiar with when undertaking a new home improvement project.

What is a HOA?

It is a governing body operated by an elected board of directors or volunteers to manage a residential community. Members make annual, quarterly, or monthly payments to the association to maintain the management neighborhood operations.

The primary objective of HOAs is to improve property value by holding homeowners to the same set of standards. It explains why you may be required to follow specific design, color or height restrictions when building a property.

Projects that Need Approval

You need to seek HOA approval for exterior renovations like painting the exterior of a home, building a fence, and even changing mailbox in front of your home. Also, the HOA requires homeowners should seek approval when completing interior repairs like replacing bathroom tiles. Of course minor projects like replacing a wallpaper may not need HOA approval as they don’t affect other homeowners. Other interior renovations that need HOA approval include:

  • Flooring, rewiring
  • Structural projects like adding or changing rooms, plumbing, removing exterior or interior walls, kitchen renovations
  • Exterior changes like landscaping, adding a new roof, front door trim, gutters, and exterior paint
  • Replacing the ceiling

Projects that Don’t Need HOA Approval

  • Light fixtures like electrical outlets and switches
  • Interior trim work
  • Bath fixtures like the shower and the sink
  • Landscaping a fenced backyard

The HOA may request you to stop the work or redo the project if you don’t seek approval even when you have complied with its rules. As such, it is important to seek approval before starting the project to avoid wasting time and resources.

Also, HOA communities require homeowners to hire a professional to perform all such renovations. You can find professional contractors on Google, Home Advisor and Angie’s List. Or even look around your neighborhood to see which companies your neighbors have used!

Be sure to review the HOA regulations to avoid putting your project on hold, or even cancelling it altogether. It is also a good idea to let your contractor know that you are living within an HOA sop that they know where and how to dispose of jobsite debris and where to park vehicles and equipment.

The HOA also inspects the project after completion to ensure such garbage has been disposed of properly, and the project complies with the community’s rules and standard of quality.

Getting HOA Approval for Renovation

The process varies from one association to another, but the standard procedure involves filling out an application that explains the home improvement plan. It would help if you had the help of an expert to assist filling out the form as it increases your chances of getting approval from the board.

Provide as much information about the project as the HOA will use it to approve or deny the proposal. Essential information to include:

  • The approximate timeline of the project
  • The type of work and its effect on the property
  • Common areas that will be used during the renovation
  • Sometimes the HOA approves the project based on conditions concerning:
  • Hours the project should take place
  • Types of materials to be used in the project
  • Licenses tradespeople and contractors should have
  • Separating the work area and the common area

The approval process takes 14-30 days once you submit the proposal. Factors such as the complexity of the project and the need to verify if the contractor is insured can prolong the approval time.

Once the proposal is approved, you can commence working on the project. Since renovations are noisy and disruptive, it is imperative to work during HOA-approved construction hours (usually 7 am-7 pm, and 9 am-9 pm during the weekends).

Consider alerting your neighbors via email or a letter explaining the length of the project. Be ready to answer questions they may have to prevent conflict and reduce the chances of getting complaints.

Before embarking on a renovation project in an HOA community, check its CC&Rs to find out the specific approvals required. Also, talk to the correct people to determine the renovations do’s and don’t’s in the neighborhood.