Architectural Compliance Board Condominium Governance

Condo Exterior Modification Sought

J.A. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I serve on the Board of our Condo Association. Recently, an owner has requested approval for exterior remodeling. Our condos are townhouses that are attached. The request entails adding a window to a basement that must provide legal egress. We, as an association, desire to approve the remodel but do not want the resulting remodel to create expenses, now or future, for the Association. We desire a generic form that provides ease of defining who is responsible for what. We desire as well to be able to provide documentation of the definition of who is responsible for what to a future owner. Does such a form exist? Thank you for your assistance.

Mister Condo replies:

J.A., I do not know of any such form in my library but I have seen some at Property Management companies that deal with such issues. Have you asked your own property manager? I found one you might wish to look at here: I commend your Board for trying to accommodate the request but you are also correct in stating the concern about future expenses being passed to the association because of this modification. Even if the Board likes the proposal from the homeowner and there are no concerns from neighbors, the future impact on the association must be considered and is a valid reason to deny the request. For the most part, condo buyers know what they are getting when they purchase. In fact, the uniformity of exterior appearance is usually a strong selling point for condo buyers. They are buying a good-looking unit within a community of similar, if not identical, units. When the Board starts approving exterior changes, that uniformity can be compromised. If new materials are introduced (fiberglass instead of wood, stone instead of brick, etc.) that uniformity can be lost. Also, new building materials may not age the same as previous materials, creating an issue when future maintenance is needed. I am not saying that the modification cannot occur or that it should be denied because of these issues, I am only saying that the Board needs to fully understand that it has an important role in maintaining architectural compliance standards. If it approved any exterior building changes, it should do so judiciously. All the best!

2 thoughts on “Condo Exterior Modification Sought”

  1. Plan & scheme intended by the developers architect is an important consideration. It appears to me the Board shouid respond back to the homeowner asking what is the intent of providing this window? Is the homeowner plan on using it fir living space?
    If yes what codes or permits may be required by local authorities. Has this homeowner hired a architect or engineer to review this opening that he proposes. I would be carefull here as the Board may expose the community & Board to a liability beyond just the look of the unit.

  2. I noted that the original question also stated that a basement window is required the provide legal egress. That is only true if the space is being used as a bedroom. If the original design and construction did not intend for the basements to be used as bedrooms, then a window is not needed and the request could be denied. Some CC&Rs make if clear, as does the Civil Code in California, that maintenance doors and windows are the responsibility of the homeowner, not the association. Check for that as well.

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