Do-it-yourself Home Improvements

So getting a permit for the work has to be a pain, right?

On the contrary, Sawyer explained. “There are applications that need to be filled out, which you can obtain either online or when you come into the office, but it’s a lot easier than people would think. I hear that all the time—people don’t think it’s this simple. I think most people are intimidated by the permit process and the inspection process.” But you shouldn’t be. As long as you have a very detailed outline of what you want to do, it’ll be a snap.

Working With Your HOA

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“An HOA is very important,” said Shannan Ogilvie, owner and broker at Apex Management Group, if you have one, that is. For the unaware, an HOA is a Home Owners Association, a governing body that oversees the development as well as the home owners that have agreed to the rules laid out in the agreement. “They help preserve property values and provide members with the opportunity to have certain home features that they might not be able to afford on their own,” she detailed. It helps preserve property values by limiting and restricting the types of changes you can make to your home and yard.

If you want to add on, modify your garage, add in a garden or pool, you really need to talk to your HOA board, Ogilvie added. “Anything that is going to change the physical appearance of the house will most likely require review by the board and architecture committee.”

Now, HOAs do vary around town—some are not as strict as others. “But usually when a developer is still involved and on the board, they want to uphold the original vision for the community. Planned developments are planned a certain way, and the board wants to keep them looking a certain way so that the value of the home and the neighborhood is upheld for future potential buyers.”

So what happens if you do build something that isn’t approved by your HOA? “Well, you can’t be evicted,” Ogilvie said with a chuckle, “but you can be forced to go through a hearing, be fined or sued by the board, and be forced to remove the addition or modification at your own expense.”

Ultimately, Ogilvie explained that HOAs are positive things. People can enjoy a community that is held to a high standard.

So ask yourself this question the next time you want to do something not okayed by your HOA: is it worth it?

Keeping An Eye on the Bottom Line

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It’s inevitable; a part of the process. You know you have to spend money to get your home looking the way you want it. But just like when you run to the store to buy a few new clothes or some groceries, it’s hard to stay on budget—there’s always something you forgot to put on your list that you have to pay for. But Ghina Itani, designer and owner of Itani Designs, said there are a few ways to make sure you’re as close to your budget as you can be.

“Budget has the most impact on construction projects,” she said. “When the budget is limited, eliminating the need to hire a professional appears to be an easy solution. Though that may work sometimes, for very small, easy projects, in some cases it can result in higher bottom line than originally anticipated.” Itani recommends that people finalize the design with all the small details necessary before they start the work—this is the key to staying on time and on budget.

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