W.L. from New Haven County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our condo unit faces West. We have no trees or plants at the rear of our condo to provide shade. The sun generates so much heat, that our wood floors and furniture and fading in color. We had to buy black out curtains to keep the intense sun rays blocked. The association refuses to let us buy a sun setter awning, and an offside umbrella is not tall enough to block the sun from our slider. What can we do? The patio area is completely useless in the summer months and we don’t want to live in a cave.
Mister Condo replies:
W.L., I am sure that the glorious sun flooding your unit made it very appealing when you purchased. I have a similar situation in my own unit and I know how enthralled I was when I saw how much natural light enters my unit. Flash forward to a few electric bills later and I see how much air conditioning is needed to combat that glorious sun. And my blue leather sofa faded after one year and has been replaced with beige as it seems to handle the sun ray’s deterioration better. Like you, my association also has rules against awnings and I find my blinds drawn quite often during the daylight hours in summer when the sun does its most damage.
At issue for the association is architectural conformity. If the developer had installed awnings or Sunsetter-style shades when the units were first built, there would be no problem. However, as you know, they are not inexpensive and developers aren’t generally concerned with how you will live in the unit after it is sold. The only way you can get your awnings is to ask the Board to consider allowing awnings for all units. The awnings would have to be of a standard type (Sunsetter, for instance) and of an approved color (Unit 1 can’t have white, when Unit 2 has blue, etc.) and would need to have a maintenance standard applied (unless you want to allow faded or torn awnings around the complex). For all of these reasons, it is very unlikely that the Board will approve awnings for you or any other unit owner. It is certainly worth asking and also getting as much support from other unit owners. In my complex, only 1/3 of unit owners face the West and desire awnings. Is it any surprise the measure to add awnings was defeated by a margin of 2 “No” votes to every 1 “Yes” vote? You may have a similar issue where you live.
If you cannot get the awnings you desire approved by the Board, you may have a few hard choices to make. It sounds to me like you are already doing all that you can do. I have resigned myself to using my front balcony patio only during the cool hours of the evening. I am fortunate enough to have a back deck as well so I can always get some fresh air and keep one set of sliders open to the natural light and the other side shut down to keep out the heat and the furniture and rug damaging rays of the sun at bay. Your only other choice is to move and make sure that your next unit has better protection from the sun. All the best!