President’s Corner – May 2017 – Modifications

Almost without exception, the most frequently asked questions in HOA management have to do with modification requests. So, I thought it would be beneficial to spend some time on that subject for May’s President’s Corner.

Living in an HOA community comes with a lot of rules to live by. And, while some people may get a little rankled about the process and the hoops to jump through, the end result is a community that is well-maintained, attractive and holds (or increases) its property values. We all want to live in a beautiful community and getting modification approval is an important part of maintaining that high aesthetic standard that we want and expect in Viera.

How does an Association decide what is allowed and what is not allowed? Well, when a neighborhood is first planned and constructed, the developer/builder creates a set of design guidelines. These guidelines have some critical elements such as home/pool/driveway setbacks, but it also establishes specifications for fences, landscaping, construction materials, etc. Here in Viera, we have a Residential Design Review Manual that we use for all neighborhoods, then each neighborhood gets its own Supplemental Guidelines for design features that are specific to that particular neighborhood such as lamppost style, fence criteria, or possibly even a color palette. These design standards, the Declaration of Covenants (for both your neighborhood and the master association) and any standards adopted by your HOAs for your neighborhood or for all of Viera are used by the respective approval authority to determine the outcome of your request.

Now, I am sure the question everyone is thinking to themselves right about now is whether or not they need approval for that outside project they just saw on HGTV. The answer to that question will almost always be yes. Any modification to the exterior of your home requires modification approval. Installing a fountain or birdbath? Yes. Painting your home? Yes. Adding a deck/patio/pergola? Yes. Increasing or altering the footprint of your shrub/flower beds? Yes. (You can change out vegetation in existing beds without permission – just don’t change the shape/size of the bed). Remove/Install trees? Yes. Adding pavers? Yes. Changing the shape of your driveway? Yes. Replacing your roof? Yes. Installing a pool and/or a screen enclosure? Yes. So, basically, yes, yes and yes.

Also, don’t leave interpretation of the rules and the design standards up to your real estate/sales agent, friends or neighbors as to what you have to do and what is allowed. Always go directly to the source – the HOA manager. This will save you much grief (and money) in the long-run. For CVCA, which is the authority responsible for most modification approvals, the management company to contact is Fairway Management: (321) 777-7575.

Everyone also needs to be aware that the HOA may not be the only entity that has to approve homesite modifications. There may be other regulatory agencies involved – the most common is a permit through Brevard County. So, even if the HOA doesn’t object to a modification, the County might. The opposite also may be true; even if the County doesn’t have an objection to a modification, your HOA might have rules against it. Therefore, remember that this is not like going to get permission from your dad when mom says “no” – everyone has to give permission for your project to move forward.

I hope this has been helpful information to decipher the modification process. Just remember that all you have to do is call your HOA manager before you do any exterior modification and you should be just fine.

So, until next time, please remember … “We build too many walls and not enough bridges.” – Sir Isaac Newton

Eva M. Rey, President
Central Viera Community Association, Inc.