Saturday, July 31, 2021

HOAs, ups and downs

It occurred to me after reading Ellen's comment, which I really appreciated, that since all you ever hear from me about the HOA is whining, that I perhaps should right the balance a bit. 

The idea is that everything inside the property including inside the back gate to the patio, is personally owned. As long as I don't affect the whole building structure, I can do what I want.

Here's my back way, gate open to welcome you, part of the deck missing because of the fence work. It's going to be put back when they finish

Left is Aditha's corn, growing how huge, right is the fence between my house and Gary's. The front on the left, is the section I cleaned up yesterday, right of the gate some of what's still to do. Same inside the fence. They need one foot clear on both sides of the fence to install the new one.

Patios have all kinds of things, sofa swing things, dog runs, gardens, trees, toolsheds, whatever pleases the owners and doesn't go against townships zoning. You can't erect a tiny house for living in. Anywhere in town, in fact.  That sort of thing.

As long as I don't remove a load bearing wall indoors, I can renovate, overhaul, anything I can afford. Same as in a single family home.

Which brings us to cost. A townhouse, with joint responsibility for exterior maintenance, roofs, snow removal, grass cutting, garbage, parking lot upkeep, fence replacement, etc,is the only way I can live alone independently.  

An old single woman on a very modest income could never afford even a small single family place and hire all the help she'd need for exterior upkeep. Let alone replacing the roof and siding.

We had a total renovation a few years ago, completely rebuilt roofs, wood siding replaced. My own cost was only a few thousand dollars over the normal monthly dues.  

So now the wood fences, largely rotted and chewed by squirrels, have had their day. So they're all being replaced in one giant operation.

Here are some views of the fences, some with a lot of foliage to deal with




As you see, a lovely place to look out on in all weathers. A bit hot right now.

An upside of this situation, probably unknown to my neighbors, is that this is the only way you can have a fence on your property line. Aside from this situation, fences in town must be four feet inside the property line. I know this from many years of owning a property on an acre and wanting a fence. Noooo. 

This bylaw, passed many years ago, had the effect the township governance wanted, of banning fences without saying so. Because nobody would willingly part with that much territory by fencing within it. It's assumed that fences delineate property lines and you'd be functionally donating  big slices of land to your surrounding neighbors. Anyway back from this enthralling tangent.

Alone, I could never afford snow removal, garbage pickup, grass cutting, pruning, exterior painting, all that.  That's beyond luxury. 

So I get to live in a nice community of good neighbors at a price I can afford. At about one third the cost of renting. Admittedly every development is not friendly, but that's true of any neighborhood. This one, because of the handy third floor finished room with a skylight has attracted a lot of artists, and self employed people, generally kindred spirits. More expensive developments, not so much.

Nowadays there are more children, largely Indian parents attracted by housing they can afford, while helping family in India, in the best school district in the state. 

About 65% of our exorbitant real estate taxes, we're number one in the US on this tax level, yay us!  go to the school district. I remind myself of that when the township direct debits most of what's in the bank, as it will next week, quarter's up. But that's a town wide complaint, the taxes. And I don't mind financing education.

Anyway, there are upsides as well as downsides, and badmouthing the board is a neighborhood pleasure!  I do make a point also of letting them know when I'm happy with something they've done. It's a refreshing change for them.

I'll get on to more interesting themes after this. You'll be glad to know, after politely patting a yawn over this post..

15 comments:

  1. Thoughtful post. Being around people in a condo setting is ideal for aging folks as long as there is some level of access to a personal outdoor space. Your HOA sound a reasonable, but the township not so much on the within 4 feet fence rule.

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    1. That was passed back when the township was hundreds of acres of farms, including the famous Walker Gordon and Elsie the cow, and 700 households. The township committee was four farmers determined not to let the town become suburban, I expect. Different world.

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  2. I wish I could put a fence up and have some private space!

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    1. I wish you could too. I treasure my little patio.

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  3. I enjoyed this post very much. I have never lived in a condo and it's nice to hear how it works. It does sound like an excellent situation for retirement. We own a small house and we managed to pay off the mortgage before we retired so it is affordable for us since we live primarily on SS retirement. But I do wonder about the future as we will have to hire more people to help with the upkeep. I usually cut the lawn myself but this is the first summer that I cannot manage it in the heat. I mowed in the cooler months but when we got the heavy heat in June I hired someone to do it for the first time.

    The pictures of your condo are lovely and you are blessed with good neighbors. It sounds like you have discovered the perfect situation!

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    1. Quite a few people who want to downsize but not live only in their own age group, choose condo style living. It suits me.

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  4. Not boring! I think you live with one of the sanest HOA's I've ever heard of. Sounds rather perfect for people in many different situations and I'm glad you've found it. I'm sure your neighbors are glad you've found it too!

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    1. It's not without effort, trust me! I've had throwdowns with management who forgot we were the boss. You can't just let it unfold. You do need to be ready to speak up. Exactly as you do with the local government when you don't have an HOA.

      I'm an original owner and I don't hesitate to play that card if the board or mgt falls down on the job! Sign me old, small, talks funny, but powerful!!

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  5. I think your situation is perfect. Here, many families that own free-standing houses have HOA's that dictate what you can plant in the front yard, what color you're allowed to paint your house, if you can leave a car in the driveway (rather than garage). And, they don't include lawn care, trash service, or anything else!

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    1. There are a couple of them in this town, too. The worst of worlds. I can't imagine the silly rules they have. But it means the owners haven't taken a stand and opposed them.

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  6. I didn't realize you lived in a townhouse. and your living situation makes perfect sense for you. the thing I dislike most about townhouses though is no windows unless you are on an end. well, except for the end walls. one of the big selling points for us when we bought this house was all the big windows. windows in every room except for the kitchen, no window in the kitchen. the window it used to have over the sink looks out to the room they added on later.

    so do people not have dogs there, no fenced yard for the dog unless you want to give up a four foot perimeter?

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    1. I think I'm not following you. I have windows in every room -- it's the law!-- including the kitchen.

      For many years I lived in a house with windows on all sides, light all day, no privacy unless you covered the windows and not a single damn unpierced wall to put a sofa or any big piece of furniture. You couldn't get comfortable. Always had your back to a window. I prefer my present home really.

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  7. Different world. We all had dogs. No leash laws!

    People don't let dogs run free now though. Leash walks. That's why dog walking is a business.

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  8. Now I understand the four foot rule on fences. Canny, but effective, since our brains register fence=boundary, and it's awfully hard to fathom having eight feet of space between your fence and your neighbor's except as a kind of no man's land.

    I'd say for you this is the ideal solution.

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    1. Those old farmers were no dopes! Where I live is great for as long as I can do stairs. Which still looks pretty long, judging from my recent bursts of activity.

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