HOAs and Over the Hedge
If your eye just twitched a bit, then you know what I am talking about. HOAs or Homeowners Associations were made famous (in my opinion) by that classic Dreamworks movie, Over the Hedge. In the movie, the HOA was a villainous force bent on, well, nothing that really applies to us here, but I think that was my first run-in with the idea of HOAs.
Full disclaimer: Hammy the Squirrel may be my spirit animal.
I did research for this article to confirm my life experiences and found various articles about HOAs suing or being sued, so I think it is safe to assume they are a contentious bunch if ignored.
So what do you need to know about HOAs and swing sets?
A big disclaimer: you MUST research your own HOA. I read over a few HOA guidelines, and while most are very similar, your HOA may have its own unique regulations. What I do know from my years of selling swing sets is that doing your research and playing by their rules saves everyone many headaches.
Because each HOA may be different, the goal of this post is not to be an exhaustive guide but rather preparatory. Let’s get arm you with a bit of foreknowledge, so you know what you are getting into and sound like you know what you are doing when you contact your HOA.
HOA Common Requirements
Most of the requirements that an HOA places on a homeowner looking to get a swing set has to do with the visual effect it has on the surrounding properties. The HOA doesn’t want a bunch of cheap, gaudy swing sets lowering the curb appeal around their neighborhood. Below are some of the most common requirements HOAs enforce to meet that goal.
Most HOAs require the playset to have a muted color scheme. No bright, flashy colors can be used in the construction of the set, and any colorful accessories need to be kept at a minimum.
Most HOAs have a list of acceptable materials for swing set construction. Some HOAs ban all but wood swing sets and only allow certain types of wood. Some HOAs are pretty lenient on what material is used, but all HOAs don’t want a cheap, ugly-looking playset.
Virtually all HOAs guidelines I have read or worked with have required the playset to be in the backyard. Not the front, not even the sideyard, but the further in the back, the better.
HOAs tend to have strict guidelines on how close to a fence or property line you can place a swing set. That will need to be taken into consideration when designing a custom set.
Size and Heights Restrictions
Most HOAs have guidelines on how big the playset can be or how tall it stretches. Most of our swing sets can fit into the guidelines, but if you are looking for a 7’ tall tower, you MUST check with your HOA’s height restrictions. It’s not like they will ignore that tall tower that just showed up one day.
HOAs have an application process that you will have to play nice with. Most require photographs with your yard marked showing the swing set’s location and a spec sheet or drawing of the swing set to scale. We can provide you with the drawing of your swing set with your color choice. Just ask.
The application process can take a bit, so if your thinking about getting a swing set this spring, don’t let your HOA hold up the fun. Get started on it early. I know, I know, I hate paperwork, too.
If you are planning on putting any vegetation to help screen the set and give you some privacy, most HOAs will want to know about that as well.
What we have learned through the years is that trying to sneak something by an HOA is never a good idea. They are an alert bunch. Comply with their requests, deal with the annoyances, and avoid drama. It is your responsibility to ensure your swing set meets your HOA’s requirements; we are here to help you with drawings and spec sheets as needed.