J.J. from Fairfield County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I had new windows installed two years ago. The ones I replaced were original to the building and they looked really bad with hazing and water in between the panes. The new windows look great but I just got a letter from my Board informing me that they never approved my new windows and that the trim that the installer used isn’t a match to the rest of the complex. They want me to submit the plans for the new windows so they can approve them and they want me to have the contractor come back and replace the new trim with trim that matches what used to be there. This is going to cost me a fortune! Can they make me do this? What are my rights?
Mister Condo replies:
J.J., congratulations on the new windows! It sounds like you are about to get a lesson in architectural compliance and it might be a fairly expensive one at that. Unlike individual homes, condo units are required to be of certain conformity forever from the time they are built. What’s more is that you agreed to this when you purchased into your condo. Check it out. It’s in your condo documents.
So now you are getting notice from the Board that you didn’t play by the rules. In the worst case scenario, the Board can compel you to remove the unapproved windows and replace them with approved windows. That could be quite costly. It sounds like they are trying to work with you and review the windows you did install so that they might consider approving them. The issue with the trim is on you. You must replace the existing trim with an approved style and material as what was previously there.
You can fight this if you wish but you would likely just prolong the inevitable and rack up additional legal bills along the way. My advice is to get the Board what they need and hope that they approve your new windows. Offer to have the trim replaced as soon as they make a ruling on the new windows. And, for future consideration, do not even think about altering any element of your condo without first seeking Board approval. Once they approve your project, you are free to proceed. Begging for forgiveness will not work. You need to get permission first. Good luck!