M.K. from Fairfield County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Is it permissible under Connecticut condo law to choose a window replacement vendor (Home Depot) rather than the board pre-approved vendors (Renewal by Andersen & Marvin)? Of course assuming that the Home Depot window has the same exterior appearance as all other units (frame size, palette -color, etc.).
Mister Condo replies:
M.K., the short answer is “yes and no”. Please allow me to explain. The concept of architectural compliance as it relates to condominiums is outlined in your condominium documents. I am not aware of any law that supersedes the condominium documents with regards to architectural compliance so you are at the discretion of the Board of Directors for the condominium when it comes to choosing replacement windows and/or the replacement window vendor. That being said, there is a process for petitioning the Board to consider alternate window models, styles, and vendors to perform he installation.
For the most part, architectural compliance means replacing visible exterior wear items with items of an exact style as to the original product. This is done to maintain uniformity throughout the condominium complex. You don’t want Unit 1 with a Blue door and Unit 2 with a Brown door. Neither do you want white framed, tinted windows on Unit 1 and brown-framed clear windows on Unit 2. For that reason, unit owners are required to submit, in writing, any exterior (and in some cases, interior) replacement plans for approval from the Board BEFORE the replacement project begins.
Mister Condo has taken far too many questions from unit owners who get this wrong and end up having to remove their replacement or upgraded doors, windows, and decks because they failed to grasp this simple concept. The building exterior is the domain of the Board. They are the only ones who can approve these replacements and upgrades. They also have the ability to have these projects removed, at the expense of the owner, if they fail to follow the proper procedure.
So, if you have found a suitable replacement product for your windows and feel that Home Depot or Lowes is the place to purchase the product, my advice is to get all of the information on the product and submit it to your Board for approval. Keep in mind; you will also need to provide them with insurance and licensing information for the installer which is a whole other issue. My experience has been that once a Board has approved one or more replacement window vendors, they are not all that excited about approving additional vendors. They do this to protect the community from having 5 or 6 different styles or finishes on their building exterior appearances. By all means follow the proper procedure, M.K.. You want to avoid the disappointment of having to remove your new windows because you didn’t! All the best!