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What does a homeowners' association control?

When you buy a home that is controlled by a homeowners' association, you have to agree to follow the rules that the HOA sets up. In your contract, you legally give them the right to tell you what you can do with your property. You'll also likely need to pay HOA fees.

There are upsides to being in an HOA. Often, the money from those fees will be used for things like property clean-up efforts and other things to keep the neighborhood beautiful and the property values high. You know that your neighbors aren't going to drag down the value of your home.

However, whenever you're hiring a construction company to build a new home, add on to your existing home or do renovations and upkeep, remember that the HOA may also control a variety of factors. These could include things like:

-- How high your fences can be and what types of fences you can build-- What color you paint your home-- What recreational amenities you can build, like a basketball court or a tennis court.-- What type of shingles you use and what color they are-- The size of your driveway and parking area-- What swing sets and treehouses you have built-- What type of deck or porch you construct-- The size and location of a pool and all related buildings, like a pool house-- The type of landscaping that you do

When you hire the company to start working, first look at the HOA guidelines. Make sure that the job you ask the company to do is actually allowed before it begins. Remember that the HOA agreement is legally binding.

Source: Angie's List, "How Much Power Do HOAs Have?," Jason Michael White, accessed Nov. 23, 2016

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