June 20th, 2019
When you own a home that’s not part of an HOA, you’re free to build a new fence, replace your siding, or landscape your yard however you like. But if you live in an HOA, doing repairs and renovations is a little more complicated. Not only do you have your own desires, budget and timeline to consider, you also have to make sure the finished project conforms to your HOA’s regulations. When you’re hiring a pro to complete the work, you want the project to be done right, to the satisfaction of both you and your HOA.
Whether you’re planning a simple painting job or a full kitchen remodel, it’s important to hire a contractor that’s up to the challenge of working within an HOA and avoid potential project pitfalls. To set your project up for success, keep these 5 things in mind:
- Don’t assume contractors understand HOAs
- Choose the right contractor
- Don’t underestimate project cost or time
- Do it once, do it right
- Be a good neighbor
1. Don’t assume contractors understand HOAs
Some pros have experience working with HOAs and know they need to review HOA regulations before work begins. Many pros don’t. This by no means speaks to the quality of the contractor’s work—just their experience with HOAs. When interviewing potential contractors, get them up to speed (and get a sense for their ability to comply with HOA guidelines) by asking questions like:
“My HOA has governing documents that outline the regulations for home improvements and repairs. Would you be willing to review these before you give me an estimate?”
You could also take matters into your own hands, and review the regulations that apply to your project before you speak to contractors. Inform them of the guideline(s) they’ll need to follow, and discuss any potential problems before work begins.
2. Choose the right contractor
A good place to start in your search for a great contractor is on a website that vets its vendors, like Home Advisor or Angie’s List. They only list top-rated, certified pros.
Find a Pro on Home Advisor
Search Angie’s List
3. Don’t underestimate project cost or time
Home improvement projects often cost more and take longer than planned. Contractors provide price and time estimates based on past projects, but no two jobs are the same. Unanticipated costs and delays can come up. Maybe the supplier just raised the price of materials, or some materials are out of stock and you need to wait for a new shipment to arrive. You can’t know ahead of time what these factors will be, but you can count on a couple of surprises. When you get an estimate from a contractor, pad the price and time a bit. That way, if small issues arise, you’ll be able to take them in stride.
In addition to collecting estimates from pros, use online tools to get a sense of potential costs. Try the free project cost estimator from Home Advisor. Enter your project type and ZIP code. With one click, you’ll see a ballpark price range, along with a detailed breakdown of costs.
4. Do it once, do it right
While you can’t anticipate every little issue that might come up, there are things you can do improve your chances of smooth sailing. Confirm that your contractor understands all the HOA guidelines before they crack open the paint cans or fire up the circular saw. Don’t try to fly under the radar with a non-compliant project. If your HOA finds out, you might require you to put the brakes on your renovation or even redo the work, which will cost extra time and money. Prevent delays by ensuring the project area is accessible to your contractors right when they arrive, so they can get to work and stick to the schedule.
5. Be a good neighbor
Home improvement projects can be noisy, with power tools running dawn to dusk. They can be disruptive, with contractor vans parked on the street, and an unsightly dumpster in your driveway. Your HOA rules might not include anything about getting neighbor approval for your project, but it’s considerate to let your neighbors know what’s in store. In a phone call, letter or conversation over the fence, let them know about the potential noise and activity levels that will be happening in and around your home.
Make it clear how long they can expect the disruption, and invite them to tell you if there are any problems—like a contractor hammering at 9:00 pm, when they agreed to stop at 5. Giving your neighbors a heads up helps you to stay on good terms. It also helps you prevent a neighbor from filing a complaint with the HOA, which could step in to delay or stop your project.
We know our stuff
JSP Properties has spent over 20 years managing HOAs, which includes helping HOA homeowners navigate the tricky territory of renovations and repairs. We’ve learned a lot along the way, and hope these 4 best practices help your project go smoothly.
Want to self-manage your HOA? We designed JSP Toolbox to make life easier for HOAs that want to run themselves. Give it a try—it’s free for the first 30 days.
Posted In: Home Improvements