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Construction Projects and Associations- Beware!

One of the first things new homeowners do when they walk around their new place is to start imagining all the things they want to do to make it their own. They might think about a construction project such as opening up walls, putting in a deck, or putting in new landscaping.

Unfortunately, homeowners who wish to start a construction project can be confronted with some pushback if they are part of an association. In these cases, what someone does to a property can be limited or denied by the homeowner's association.  This is why it is important to check your convenants before you make any changes.  Your attorney can review your covenants and guide you before you make any changes that could result in the association assessing a fine or other penalty.

For instance, a man in another state recently learned that the sizable tree house he has been building in his yard for his grandchildren and godchildren might not be allowed.

According to reports, the man started building the tree house last year. At the time construction began, there were informal bylaws created by an informally appointed HOA president that prohibited the erection of such a structure. The man was asked to provide plans for the tree house, which he did. The HOA denied them and ordered that construction be stopped.

However, there is a legal dispute over whether the HOA has the power to stop the construction due to the fact that it was formally dissolved at the time construction began. Between 1997 and 2016, there was no formally registered HOA corporation; just a group of people who were enforcing rules they may not have been entitled to enforce.

Now the man and the HOA are locked in a battle over what is and is not permitted in terms of building a tree house. 

While this may not seem like a very complicated or troubling matter in the scheme of things, it is a good reminder that disputes over construction projects can seem to arise out of nowhere. More parties can be involved than you expect, and projects you assumed would go off without a hitch could come to a screeching halt when someone raises concerns about building permissions.

Whether you are locked in a battle over a tree house or a multi-million dollar commercial building, it can be crucial that you consult an attorney to examine your rights as a property owner, builder or other party with a vested interest in a property should the completion of a project be put in jeopardy.

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