HOA permit and approval – process, acquiring and site plans

HOA approval

If you are required to obtain a HOA permit, which includes filling out the application form, getting a site plan, along with samples and details of your design, you have probably asked yourself, “Why do I need HOA approval?”. Let’s explain everything.

Key Takeaways

  1. HOA permit is an approval given to you by the HOA board
  2. HOA approval process consists of 4 easy-to-follow steps
  3. Different HOAs will require approval for different projects, but there are some that are common for almost all HOAs

What is a HOA community?

HOA stands for a homeowners’ association and their main purpose is to help run, manage, and maintain a neighborhood. Each HOA has a different set of rules and regulations.

First HOAs in the United States were formed during the 19th century. They became important during the 1960s because of the fast development and rapid growth of suburban areas. In this graph you can see the growth in the number of HOAs in the U.S. (source: The Foundation for Community Association Research). Click the image to enlarge.

Growth in the number of HOAs in the U.S. thru time
Number of homeowners’ associations across U.S. from the 1970s

Naturally, this has led to the growing number of people that live in HOA communities. You can see it in the graph below (source: The Foundation for Community Association Research). Click the image to enlarge.

Number of U.S. residents in HOA communities
U.S. residents living in homeowners’ association communities

If you are interested to see the number of people that live in HOA communities by states, click on the graph below to see the full picture (source: The Foundation for Community Association Research). You’d be amazed at the number of HOA residents in some states.

The number of people that are HOA residents by states
Number of HOA residents by states

What is HOA approval?

What is HOA permit?
 The definition of HOA approval

HOA permit is an approval given to you by the HOA board. HOAs require approval before you make any changes to the exterior of your property. These changes are governed by the association’s architectural standards defined in the CC&R. Different homeowners associations require approval for different types of changes.

The main function of HOAs is to preserve the property values of homes within the community and to keep the overall aesthetics.

Let’s see what the HOA approval process looks like.

HOA approval process

Getting your HOA permit is a process that consists of 4 steps:

  1. Get familiar with your HOA rules and regulations – Before starting with your project, check your homeowners association rules and regulations. You will find them in the copy of your development’s Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs). You received that copy when you bought your house.
  2. Make a formal application – Fill out the form, most HOAs have them available online. Your application should include all the details of your design. It is best to include site plan in your application, in this way you can better explain planned changes and you have better chances to be approved.
  3. Wait for the feedback – This is a relatively quick process, so you can expect the reply from your HOA board in 30 days (but keep in mind that sometimes it can take longer).
  4. Get your HOA approval letter – Now you are ready to make the changes that you want, but always check if the building permit, zoning permit, or demolition permit is required as well.

We have some tips for you in order to get approved.

How to get HOA approval?

In order to make this entire process easier, we have 5 tips for you:

  1. If you can’t find the appropriate form online, you can download this HOA approval form, and fill it out
  2. Always ask for HOA permission before you start with your project or renovations. You don’t want to invest your time and money in something that you will have to redo, or demolish altogether.
  3. Be prepared. Often the best way to get a permit is to help the members of the HOA board to visualize your design. You should include photos, samples, and drawings in your project forms. Depending on your intended work, you may have to include an elevation plan.
  4. Have a detailed site plan. The site plan can help them with visualization of your project. And also with relaying how it will correlate with other parts and structures of your property.
  5. Be patient. These types of approvals can take between a few weeks up to a few months.

Now that you know how to get HOA approval, let’s check if you even need it for your intended project.

When do you need a HOA permit?

Before we get started, we need to emphasize that each HOA has a different set of rules and regulations. Typically, you will need a HOA permit if you are planning to:

  • Build any additional structures
  • Build a pool or a hot tube
  • Make any changes/renovations in your garden
  • Paint the exterior walls of your house
  • Replace roof or windows
  • Install a fence

Some of the most common questions regarding HOA permit are:

  1. Do you need HOA approval for a patio?
  2. Do you need HOA approval for the backyard?
  3. Do you need HOA approval for landscaping?
  4. Do you need HOA approval for a gazebo?
  5. Do you need HOA approval for a pergola?

So, let’s answer them.

1. Do you need HOA approval for a patio?

Do I need a HOA permit for my patio?
HOA approval for patio

Yes, in most cases you will need a HOA permit for a patio. Most HOAs will require a site plan and an elevation plan with your application. The reason for this is that they know and see the final layout and location of your patio.

Some HOAs may require owners to submit color and material samples that they are planning to use to build the patio.

In some cases, HOAs will ask for signed affidavits from your neighbors that may be impacted with your patio. For example, your patio may impact other homeowners view, or they are very close, so you need to inform them about the construction noise.

2. Do you need HOA approval for the backyard?

Do I need a HOA permit for my backyard?
HOA approval for backyard

Yes, you will need a HOA permit for various types of work that you are planning to do in your backyard. Those types of work include:

  1. Landscaping
  2. Storage structures
  3. Keeping things outside
  4. Decoration

If you are planning to build a shed in your backyard, check with your HOA first. Some HOAs have rules regarding the size and position of your shed. Some HOAs don’t allow them altogether.

Some HOAs have regulations regarding what can be visibly displayed in your backyard. So perhaps you are not allowed to have a trash can or a parked bicycle in your backyard.

HOAs have rules about the aesthetic appeal of the community as a whole. So some decorations may not be allowed. This also goes for lawn furniture and sculptures.

3. Do you need HOA approval for landscaping?

Do I need a HOA permit for landscaping?
HOA approval for landscaping

Yes, for many things related to landscaping, you will need permission from your HOA. These types of regulations refer to:

  1. Personal gardens
  2. Types of plants
  3. Tree removal and/or planting
  4. Fencing

Generally there are restrictions against having a large backyard garden. In some HOAs you will be able to have few herbs or tomato plants, but there will be limitations to having your own garden.

Some HOAs don’t allow all types of plants. The main reason for this is not to interfere with your neighbor’s garden and to keep the same aesthetics in all yards.

In most cases, you will need permission from the HOA board if you want to remove or plant a tree. Trees add value to the community, so you will have to have a good reason for wanting to remove one. Also, your HOA may have a set of regulations that allow only certain types of trees.

Having a nice fence can improve the look of your property, but it can also be a huge eyesore. Because of that you should always ask for permission before installing a fence and have your plan approved by the HOA board.

4. Do you need HOA approval for a gazebo?

Do I need a HOA permit gazebo?
HOA approval for a gazebo

Again, the answer is yes, you will need a permit for your gazebo. These types of structures can interfere with your neighbor’s view and can change the aesthetics of the community. Before you start planning your project, check with your HOA if having a gazebo is even allowed.

5. Do you need HOA approval for a pergola?

Do I need a HOA permit for a pergola?
HOA approval for a pergola

Just like with a gazebo, you will need a HOA permit for building a pergola. Before making any exterior home improvements, you should become familiar with your HOA’s guidelines. Some HOAs even have regulations in regards to windowsills.

HOA permit and approval FAQs

How long does HOA approval take?

It generally takes between 30 and 60 days, but the time varies based on the HOA’s governing documents.

How many HOAs are there in the US?

Today there are over 370,000 homeowner associations in the United States. As you saw in the graphs above, the number of HOAs is rising and with that, naturally the number of people living in HOAs is rising as well.

What happens if you don’t get HOA approval?

It is very important that you seek approval before starting your project, otherwise the HOA board will make you redo your work and you could be fined. If you ask for a permit before you start the project, they will be able to see the changes that you are planning to make in your site plan. This way you can make easy changes, if necessary, and proceed with your home renovations.

How much are HOA fines?

HOA fines are between $25 and $50 per violation. If you don’t pay it on time, or continue to violate the rules, the amount will increase.

How to ask for HOA approval?

When it comes to asking your HOA board for approval, the best strategy is to:

1. Know the HOA rules and regulations.
2. Be friendly with the members of the board, they are your neighbors and just want the best for your community.
3. Ask for a permit on time. We understand that the renovation process can be stressful on its own. But having HOA approval before you start making any changes can save you time and money in the future. There is no need to worry about redoing or paying fines.

Site plan for HOA permit

Site plans for HOA application
HOA permitting process is easy with our site plans

Make your application process easier and stress-free and get your project approved with our site plans for permits. Our team of experts has over 20 years of experience and more than 7500 site plans for permits approved. Having a detailed site plan will help you get approved from your HOA board, so you can start with your project as soon as possible. If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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