When it comes to remodeling a home in an HOA, there are some popular misconceptions. People often assume that if the work is inside the home, the homeowner pays for it. If it’s on the exterior, the presumption is that the homeowner association (HOA) will cover the costs.
But it isn’t that simple.
Every HOA home has what are called “common area elements.” Multiple HOA homes share these communal services, which include the waterline, sewage pipes and electrical line.
- If your remodeling project impacts common area elements, the HOA will cover renovations or repairs to these services. This is true even if the work is inside your home.
- If the remodeling project only impacts your home (and no common area elements), you’ll likely pay for all of it.
Common remodel scenarios & who pays
Below are examples of remodeling projects and who is responsible for picking up the bill. Remember that every HOA has its own set of CC&Rs (covenants, conditions & restrictions), and rules vary across HOAs. So be sure to check your HOA’s unique CC&Rs for rules about who pays, as well as other project requirements.
- Minor Kitchen Remodel (cabinets, floors, paint, appliances): Homeowner
- Major Kitchen Remodel (involving plumbing and electrical): Potentially both. An HOA pays for plumbing & electrical work that affects outdoor areas. The homeowner pays for everything else.
- Additions (adding livable square footage):
Homeowner. If the addition requires an update to the CC&Rs, the HOA will hire a lawyer to do so. They may cover this expense or pass it along to the homeowner.
- Minor Bathroom Remodel (tile, vanity, toilet, hardware): Homeowner
- Major Bathroom Remodel (walk-in shower, tub, adding sinks, lighting or heated floors): Potentially Both. The HOA pays for plumbing & electrical work that impacts areas outside the home. The homeowner pays for everything else.
- Fireplace (adding a new fireplace with exterior vent):
Potentially Both. The homeowner pays for the fireplace hearth. The HOA likely pays for the exterior venting if the roof is covered by the HOA.
- Cabinet Refacing: Homeowner
- Outdoor deck: Homeowner. If building the new deck requires that the CC&Rs be updated, the HOA will hire a lawyer to make the changes. They may cover this expense or pass the cost on to the homeowner.
- Installing a Roof: HOA or Homeowner. If it’s a single-family home, the homeowner usually pays. If it’s a common area element (as in a condo), the HOA pays.
- Basement: Potentially Both. The homeowner pays all expenses except if plumbing or electrical work would impact areas outside of the home or require work on those areas. Then, the HOA pays.
- Windows: Potentially Both. The HOA pays for windows in a shared space (like in an HOA building hallway). If the window only serves the homeowner’s property, the homeowner pays.
- Doors: Potentially Both. Homeowners pay for interior doors that only serve the individual home (i.e. not a shared hallway). Homeowners living in single-family homes and townhomes pay for exterior doors, which are subject to the color and style standards of the HOA. In condos and co-ops, the HOA usually pays for exterior doors.
- Removing Walls: Homeowner. Whether removing an interior or exterior wall, the homeowner pays. HOAs need to approve project plans for exterior walls. If wall removal requires that the CC&Rs be updated, the HOA will hire a lawyer to make the changes. They may cover this expense or pass the cost to the homeowner.
- Building a Garage: Potentially Both. For detached garages, many HOAs cover the cost on non-mechanical structure items, since detached garages are often shared spaces. The HOA might pay for walls, siding, and windows. Homeowners pay for mechanical components like the garage door opener. For garages attached to single-family homes, the homeowner pays for the entire build.
When you learn that your HOA might cover a chunk of the costs, that kitchen or bathroom remodel you’ve been dreaming of can feel more within reach.
Read your HOA’s CC&Rs
To know for certain who will pay for what on your remodeling project, read the CC&Rs for your HOA. HOAs have the authority to enforce payment guidelines outlined in the CC&Rs, and any additional HOA Rules & Regulations documents.
Avoid expensive surprises down the road by finding out upfront what your financial responsibilities will be. If you have questions about anything in your CC&Rs, ask a member of your HOA board.
Even if you’re paying, you still have to follow HOA renovation guidelines
If you live in an HOA, many home renovations and repairs need to be pre-approved by the HOA board. Learn which projects require board approval.
Hire qualified professionals
If the HOA is paying for part of the remodel, they’ll want to make sure the work will be completed to meet the standards of the HOA. They may require you to hire contractors with specific qualifications or licensing, and you’ll need to provide documentation of these credentials. Even if your HOA doesn’t require this in the CC&Rs, it’s always a good idea to choose highly-skilled, experienced contractors to work on your home.